Champagne Moussé Fils
Moussé Fils Les Vignes De Mon Village, Blanc de Meuniers +
A perpetual reserve begun in 2014; most recent vintage 2020, deg. April 5, 2022, tirage under cork, and……zero dosage.
It has never had dosage, actually. It’s 100% Meunier from Cuisles, and is (you’ll recall) a tribute to Cédric’s father, who was a great believer in the potential of Meunier many years before that belief was trendy.
The fragrance is expressive and pure and inviting. The color is shallot-skin. The palate is sensational.
This will be the third zero-dosage I’ve been blown away with in the past few months – Gimonnet’s were the first two. You could suppose that the softer Meunier would better accommodate this regimen, but my experience has said otherwise. All the more reason to admire this remarkable wine.
The Juhlin 2.0 reveals both a mineral backdrop to the firm fruit, and also the grassy element of the ’20 vintage. The 1st edition Juhlin is less stark but also less transparent. The wine is crusty and vinous now, appealingly salty, and reminds me of those big trumpet mushrooms sautéed in ghee or duck fat. But it’s worth asking about the grassy element the smaller glass exposes. What will become of it? It’s certainly been a stubborn companion of the 2015s, and it isn’t encouraging to see it show up again. Yet again, one might complain.
Nor is this confined to growers. The big houses, with all their know-how, have not escaped it. And let me repeat, we understand there are “small” vintages and we accept them comfortably. But these are different.
Given the nature of the perpetual reserve, it intrudes subtly with this laudable wine. It’s a striking achievement, and the best bottling of this wine I have tasted. The “green” note could even be a pleasing nuance, as it is from the more capacious original Juhlin. (The glass, not the guy. I have no idea what his capacity may be, though I imagine it is formidable.)
Moussé Fils “Anecdote” 2018 , Extra Brut ++
The subtitle is “Les Deux Lieux-dits.” It’s 100% Chardonnay, picked September 4th2018 and disgorged Feb. 3rd 2022
Woo hoo, a fabulous fragrance. And it leads to an equally fabulous wine. I can’t imagine there are more than a small few Chardonnays outside of the Côte des Blancs this superb, this original, this revelatory.
What does it reveal? It shows a profile of Chardonnay that has little to do with overt chalk or even general minerality. What stands in for those things is acidity, an essential crispness, which makes its stunning fruit even more alluring. It is a masterpiece of fruit and lees in a dynamic interchange of contained power.
You know the cognates: jasmine, brioche, langoustine sashimi, baby powder, basmati. And I am aware the ’18 vintage was rampantly fruity. But that can’t account for the exquisitely and warmly salty finish. Can you even talk about its “finish?” It never seems to end. This is addictive Champagne.
I know I’ve said this before, but it is so moving to see a vintner whom I’ve known since he was a young pup, pass through all the learning stages and arrive at such serene mastery. Sure I know this happens all the time, but call me sentimental, I’m still moved. I look at a wine like this, which is only barely in earth-orbit, and all I can feel is Look what my friend has achieved!
And by the way, the dosage, which is extremely low, is perfect.
Moussé Fils Terres D’Illite 2018 Blanc de Noirs +++
Extra-Brut on the back label, picked September 4th (must have been a busy day at Moussé), disgorged January 2nd 2022, 80% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir.
The Illite is a rare soil, and this is its only outcrop in Champagne. You can google it, or look back at my last Moussé report. I have always liked this wine.
The lovely aromas mingle the earthiness of the green clay with the bread and caramel of Meunier. The palate is nearly explosive, with a quantum concentration and implacable grip, but all of this is in service of staggering concentration of fruit. The Juhlin 2.0 shows every crumb and crag, and will have you shaking your head in disbelief. Because yet again, great wine is a paradox, always; how can these things coexist? It makes no sense. How do you attain this intensity with this detail? How do you even begin to apprehend it?
In this case it is a great wine that isn’t at all “exquisite.” It’s not ethereal, and it doesn’t summon the spirits. It simply has a calm command backed up by an easy intricacy, and each of these things is serenely overwhelming. If you think you can withstand it all, the pealing echo of finish will light up a kind of eventide of afterglow that has the power to undo you.
I am banishing associations of flavor, because they don’t matter here. If you’re fortunate enough to land a bottle of this, you’ll have your own imaginings. What blows me away here isn’t this “thing” or that but instead this glorious ensemble of virtuosic expression. Have fun, and be ready.
Moussé Fils L’Or D’Eugene, Perpetuelle Blanc de Noirs
In effect the “N.V. Brut” of the domain, a perpetual reserve started in 2003 and ending (uh-oh) with 2020; disgorged Sept. 6th 2022, 80-20 Meunier/PN, and Extra-Brut
It starts by smelling lovely, but the palate then starts getting, let’s say, significantly grassy.
Please understand I distinguish between “grassy” (which isn’t always unpleasant) and “vegetal” (which is). I don’t think grassy has a place in Champagne, but it seems we’re stuck with it for now.
What’s galling is it’s easy to see how excellent this wine ought to have been. And I repeat, the green flavor is a segment of this wine, one which you might very well enjoy.
Some of the growers think I’m crazy for kvetching about this. I am not alone, however, and this is an issue the Champenoise will have to confront going forward. Two such vintages in six years ought to be a wake-up call. Three in the last ten years should be a five-alarm fire.
Moussé Fils Special Club Meunier 2017 Les Fortes Terres ++
Disg March 1 2022, essentially zero dosage.
A rugged, “dark” fragrance; it was a botrytis vintage but I don’t insist this is a botrytis aroma. It grows sweeter with air, more glow, more resonance.
Moussé has established a formidable track record with this, the first Meunier Club ever made, and a consistent high-water mark for the variety in all of Champagne. It does not elide the basic charm of Meunier. It refuses to run from it. What it does is to add three layers of reverberation, which confers on it a sort of glory. It’s a wine of Big-Moments.
I mean, you two aren’t like any other pair, right? Your love is unique! You are heroes, you travelled far to get here, yours is a singular destiny, and now here you are, celebrating. Doesn’t matter what. She said yes. It’s your first anniversary. It’s your 50th anniversary. Are you really going to spend a small fortune on a young “luxury” cuvée from a big house? It won’t register!
Drink this instead. It’s rapturous; it’s less expensive; it’s gorgeous and ravishingly delicious, and it will rock the singular world the two of you built alone, and that nobody knows but you. Plus it comes from an actual person, not from a Company, not from an “it.”
It’s always been a ne plus ultra of Meunier, this wine. It’s more hedonic than the Terres D’Illite, and this is an overwhelmingly convincing vintage of it. In effect – if you don’t know the wine – it is a vibrating, shining moment of the “sweetness” of Meunier without being remotely actually sweet. It says This is what the grape can do. (It also asks “Are you really sure you can tolerate this much pleasure?” But maybe we’ll step away from this particular question….)
Moussé Fils L’Or D’Eugene Rosé Perpetuelle De Blanc Et De Rouge
Perpetual reserve blend of white and red from 2003/2020, disg September 6, 2022, 82/18 Meunier/PN
The fridge-cold sample was inconveniently foamy upon opening, so be careful. The grassiness of ’20 gives the wine the tartness of sloe-berries or rose hips. Otherwise it’s a typical Moussé Rosé; assertive, resolutely un-charming (but still tasty), with a dense yet fluffy body, and for all its sternness it remains generous in its definitely uncompromising way. It could be compared to a less burly Bouzy Rosé, and yet….
There’s a note here that overlaps with the Special Club, and we shouldn’t ignore it. The sheer weight of vinosity suppresses the ’20 grassiness almost completely, and the wine is a “statement” Rosé. I can’t quite grok the combination of massively dense fruit (quetsch) and underripe blackberries astride this kind of verbena grassiness, but there you go. The downside of the perpetual reserve practice is the admission of vintages that ought to have been excluded, but perhaps we only know this in retrospect. Still, by the third time I tasted it the grassiness had become obtrusive.
Moussé Fils 2018 Special Club Les Bouts De La Ville, Infusion De Meunier ++
An Extra-Brut saignée (168 hours), disg March 1, 2022, 100% Meunier
Moussé is driving me quite bonkers today. Alongside the “compromised” wines containing the ’20 vintage, there are at least three serious masterpieces – of which this is yet another.
This isn’t one of those truffley Rosés that affects to despise the possibilities of fruit in these wines. I like those, but forget them here. This is a hedonic examination of how deeply one can dive into the essential fruit of Meunier. The effect is – fathomless.
Clarity, detail, mass, profundity…but without affects of solemnity but instead a celebration of the outer limits of fruit, or rather, both the outer and the inner limits, because otherwise you can’t make sense of it.
Put it this way. You visit a renowned rose garden and as you’re walking among the hundred heirloom roses you notice the garden is ringed with blackberry bushes, and the berries are ripe and almost stinky, and in between the roses are little plots of herbs, and their resinous fragrance rises in the rising air on this warm sunny day, and when you’ve reached the end they hand you a little urn, in which, they tell you, they have distilled the aromatic essence of the garden, so that when you get it home and lift the lid, you will inhale an essence of everything you smelled that day, among the roses and the berries and the herbs.
That’s something like what awaits you here.