March, May and June 2013 at Spruce in San Francisco, The NoMad in New York, and the Publican in Chicago
If you frequently explore the world’s greatest wines, you’ll undoubtedly encounter one of his legendary Champagnes.
And if you’ve been really lucky, you’ve had more than one Selosse epiphany. You can speak knowledgeably about the differences between Initial and V.O., and you know just how transcendent his rosé is. But there are Selosse experiences that have eluded most of us. This includes the privilege of drinking old disgorgements, witnessing the further magic that occurs in bottle. And it most certainly will include drinking Anselme’s six revolutionary lieu-dit bottlings that he inaugurated last year and are made in minute quantities. In fact, so little is made of three of the six, they can only be bought as a six-bottle set, of which a mere 24 were allocated to the United States. The going price for these sets, if you could lay your hands on one, is over $3000, and climbing.
As Anselme’s U.S. importer for the past six years, we have long struggled with the challenge of satisfying a market whose demand for Selosse far outstrips our allocations. And the creation of the lieux-dits makes the situation even more difficult. So, how could we maximize the number of American wine lovers who get to experience the magic of some of the greatest wines (not just Champagnes) made in recent decades? The answer came to us: a series of spectacular dinners this spring to be held in three different cities—San Francisco, New York, and Chicago.
The first dinner in the series took place in Spruce Restaurant in San Francisco where attendees were treated by host Peter Liem, whose champagneguide.net is today’s richest web-based U.S. source of Champagne knowledge. Peter also joined us for a dinner at The NoMad in New York before we wrapped up in Chicago in June at the Publican.
The line-up was be the same in each city, with four aspects of Anselme’s genius examined in spectacular fashion:
The Six Lieux-Dits
Ideas of terroir and vintage proliferate in Champagne, but Anselme breaks them down into their pure essence. The six lieux-dits, each from a different climat in a different village of Champagne, are the purest essence of terroir.
Substance is also the essence of terroir, in which vintage variations are removed. He accomplished this in 1986 by creating a solera of pure Avize Champagne, from which he has drawn a few thousand bottles each year since. The 2001 disgorgement was the 16th from the solera, while the 2012 was the 27th.
In his vintage wines, the year means everything, and terroir ceases to define the wine’s character. Anselme’s 1999 is, of course, one of his most acclaimed and sought-after vintage cuvées to date.
Anselme’s flagship wine is his Brut Initial (called “Tradition” until 2002). It is one of the great wines of Champagne, deserving not only of decanting for aeration when young, but for long aging after disgorgement. Either act is capable of producing thrilling complexity. We will put this to a test with three different disgorgements, from 2001, 2003, and 2012.
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