CHAMPAGNE

Philipponnat

Represented exclusively in California by The Rare Wine Co.
  • Champagne en remuage in the frigid subterranean cellars at Philipponnat

  • Harvest time in the Clos des Goisses cir. 1900

  • A view of the canal from just above the iconic Clos des Goisses vineyard

The corporate changes that have swept through Champagne in recent years seem sure to rob many old houses of their connection to the past. But one small jewel of a house is moving ever closer to its roots: Philipponnat.

It is one of the last houses to be run by a member of its founding family. And Charles Philipponnat is a true Champenois, descended from winemakers, cellarmasters and growers dating back nearly 600 years.

Champagne is in Charles blood, and this helps to explain Philipponnats recent resurgence. Twenty years ago, the house was known largely for its iconic Clos des Goisses—the majestic tête de cuvée made from Champagnes single greatest vineyard.

But under Charles, Philipponnat is gaining reverence for its entire portfolio of richly expressive Champagnes.

A Philosophical Rebirth

Charles was born to make Champagne. His family grew grapes here as early as 1522, and his father René was chef de caves at Moët from 1949 to 1977—responsible for 1961 Dom Pérignon among other legends.

Since taking over in 1999, Charles has returned Philipponnat to its last Golden Age, 1913-1962, when Louis Boland was chef de caves. Bolands wines were the essence of Pinot Noir from the houses vineyards in the Montagne de Reims. Charles Champagnes also fully exploit these prized vineyards, and the resulting wines revel in their Pinot-infused glory.

Under Charles, Philipponnats wines arent just more intense, theyre also fresher (due to using only first-pressing Chardonnay). And to the traditional tank and foudre fermentation, Charles has added smaller neutral barrels for more depth and complexity. To maximize their character, the non-vintage wines age for 3 years en tirage, while the vintage cuvées spend from 5 to 10 years on the lees.

Through great vision, technical skill and perfectionist attention to detail–and the pride of five centuries of tradition–Charles has created a range of Champagnes with few peers for quality and character. This ranges from the towering Clos des Goisses to the superb Royale Réserve and Reserve Rosé, two of the finest non-vintage brut Champagnes on the market today.

Clos des Goisses

Until Krugs Clos des Mesnil was first made in 1979, Clos des Goisses was the regions only great single-vineyard wine. From its first vintage in 1935, it was not only unchallenged as the beacon of terroir in Champagne. It was the sole argument that great Champagne could be made from a single site, rather than a blend of vineyards has had been done for centuries in the region.

Even today, the respected American Champagne writer Peter Liem calls Clos des Goisses “arguably the greatest vineyard site in all of Champagne.” British Champagne expert Tom Stevenson says that “there can be no doubt that Clos des Goisses boasts the most climatically distinct, naturally occurring and expressive terroir in Champagne.” No other Champagne vineyard can match its gifts: an unbroken 30 to 45 degree, fully south facing slope of pure chalk backed by a small plateau directly above the Marne River. In warm years the plateau assures balance; in cool years the steep southern slope guarantees ripeness.


Technical Information

OVERVIEW

Established: 1910
President & CEO: Charles Philipponnat
Chef de Cave: Thierry Garnier Philipponnat was founded in 1910 by Pierre Philipponnat, who also acquired Champagne’s single oldest vineyard, the Clos des Goisses monopole, in 1935. Best known for the prestige cuvée from this unique site, and their rich, complex Pinot Noir based blends; Philipponnat has risen to even greater heights since the appointment of direct descendant Charles Philipponnat as director in 1999.

VINEYARD INFORMATION

Philipponnat owns 18 hectares of predominantly Pinot Noir vines on the steep chalk slopes in the southern Montagne de Reims villages of Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Aÿ, Avenay and Mutigny. The estate augments this with fruit purchased from long-term grower relationships in the best terroirs of the Côte des Blancs, Montagne de Reims, Vallée de la Marne, and Riceys.

Additional Notes

  • The Philipponnat style relies on a balance between the intensity of fully-ripe fruit (Aÿ-region Pinot Noir and Côtes de Blancs Chardonnay), and a freshness derived from balanced usage of malolactic fermentations, moderate aging in wood, and low dosages.
  • Yields are quite low by Champagne standards to encourage full ripeness of the fruit and minimalize chaptalization.
  • Fermentation occurs primarily in stainless steel tank and neutral foudre, with a small portion fermented and matured in 228 liter oak barrels; with none of the barrel-fermented wines seeing malolactic fermentation.
  • Each bottle bears a back label stating varietal breakdown, disgorgement date, and dosage.

THE CHAMPAGNES

  Fruit Source Bottle Aging Dosage Avg Prod

NV Brut “Royale Reserve”

First pressing of 65% Pinot Noir primarily from Philipponat’s own vineyards with 30% Chardonnay, and 5% Pinot Meunier from the heart of Champagne region.

3 years before disgorgement.

~8g/l

30,000 cases

NV “Royale Reserve” Rosé

Same as Royale Réserve Brut, but with the addition of 5-7% still red Pinot Noir, usually from the Clos des Goisses.

3 years before disgorgement.

~9g/l

2,000 cases

VTG Blanc de Blancs “Grand Blanc”

Made from the first Chardonnay pressings from the Côte de Blancs and Montagne de Reims, including Clos des Goisses.

>5 years before disgorgement.

~5g/l

1,700 cases

VTG Blanc de Noirs

Made 100% from estate Premiers and Grands Crus Pinot Noir vineyards.

>5 years before disgorgement.

~5g/l

1,500 cases

VTG “Cuvée 1522”

Selected from the estate’s Grands Cru Pinot Noir (70%) and Chardonnay (30%) sites, the tête de cuvée “Cuvée 1522” bears testimony to 500 years of family ownership in Aÿ. A small amount of rosé is also made.

7 years before disgorgement.

~5g/l

1,000 cases

VTG “Clos des Goisses”

First pressing of the best fruit from the Clos de Goisses in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. Typically, 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay, Clos des Goisses does not undergo malolactic fermentation. A small amount of rosé is also made.

8-10 years before disgorgement.

~5g/l

1,250 cases

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