Grape: 100% Chardonnay
Localization: Moussy, L'Aube, Champagne, France
Tasting Notes: Ample and exuberant, Champagne José Michel Clos Saint Jean Blanc de Blancs 2011 opens with an intensely fruity bouquet, tinged with notes of juicy peaches, ripe apricots, and fresh citrus fruits as well as a subtle touch of gourmet buttercream.
On the palate, the 2011 Clos Saint Jean offers a beautiful balance. Lively, acidic fruit aromas are supported by a velvety, frothy texture and elegant notes of meringues, almonds and toast emerging from the blend as the long, lingering finish approaches.
Food pairing: Aperitif; Rich fish (salmon, tuna, etc.); Various cheeses; White meat; Appetizers
The Domain: José Michel made his first vintage in 1955 and thanks in part to his cellar of very old bottles of Pinot Meunier, he developed a cult following for his Champagnes. José passed away in 2019 and this “Maison de Tradition” which began in 1847 is now, seven generations later, run by José and Nicole’s grandson, Antonin. Antonin is brilliantly refining the work that José accomplished over six decades and developing his own ideas. As he says, “José and I agreed on practically everything”.
The Champagne house is located in Moussy, a small village just south of Epernay. The 7 hectares of vineyards are spread throughout a number of villages, both in the Cotes D’Epernay and in the Vallée de la Marne. The vineyard sights with a richer clay soil are planted to Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The slopes which have a calcareous soil are planted to Chardonnay. José Michel was the first in his family to plant Chardonnay which he did beginning in 1958. Fermentations are carried out in old oak casks or enameled steel vats and the wines go through a malolactic fermentation. José Michel is certified “Level 3” the top level of certification in Haute Valeur Environmentale. The Michels are a founding member of the group, “Tresors de Champagne” known as the “Special Club”.
The non-vintage Brut is a blend in which the 70% Pinot Meunier forms the base and 30% Chardonnay adds complexity and finesse. In addition to the base vintage (typically 2 years old), the NV Brut benefits from being blended with reserve wines that are often 4 or 5 years old. The champagne is typically 2+ years “sur lattes” and carries a dosage of 9 grams.
The Blanc de Blancs is produced in the best vintages. It is made from Chardonnay grown in several of Michel’s best plots that are in and around Moussy. The wine is fermented in stainless steel with an extended period “sur lie”. After the secondary fermentation it rests “sur lattes” for 5 years allowing the Chardonnay qualities to broaden and mature. Dosage is 9 grams. It is a wine of impeccable character, showing both nobility and restraint. It is worthy of cellaring for at least a year after disgorgement.