Champagne Sélèque uit Pierry
door Michael Edwards
Just six kilometres west of Epernay, you enter the Cubry valley, a fascinating transitional land that lies between the Côte des Blancs and the Marne Valley. Here, as you drive past pretty vineyards crowned by the handsome 12th century Romanesque church of Chavot, look at the soil as the chalk of the Côte cedes gently to fine silt and clay. This is ideal Meunier country, home to richer flavours that still keep the finesse of residual chalk. When blended with Chardonnay, you have some of the friendliest wine in Champagne. Pierry – a premier cru – is the Cubry’s best village; in French the name means stony.
Certainly, the pebbles on silex give sturdy mineral flavours and a sense of place. The best- known Pierry wine is Taittinger’s La Marqueterie, named for the family’s fine chequer-roofed chateau high above the village, once the haunt of Voltaire and Beaumarchais. Marqueterie is an enchantingly one-off champagne, not a blend like the rest of the Taittinger range – a single vineyard monocru that is as much an echo of a particular terrain as any grower’s wine. But that’s a story for another day. For the main purpose of my Pierry visit last month was to taste with a young grower whose wines had deeply impressed me at Terroirs & Talents the previous April.
Jean-Marc Sélèque is the third generation of his family to work the soils of the village. His family name is Polish – Selecki , after a grandfather who came to Champagne and in1969 married a Mlle Bagnold, of a prominent Pierry family of growers. The Bagnolds sold their grapes to the Pierry cooperative as did the Sélèques until 1976, when they made their own first pressings. Then in 1981, they started to produce their own champagnes, supplementing their income from dairy farming of milk and butter – Grandma Sélèque selling a commercial brand of ‘Beurre d’Or’.Today Jean-Marc, a graduate of the Lycée Agricole in Avize, now does everything for vine to glass.The family owns 7.5 hectares in the Cubry’s Pierry and Moussy and rents further vineyards in Mont Bernon and Vertus for Chardonnay and Dizy for Pinot Noir. A final plot of Meunier on silex soils of low pH at Boursault gives a powerful wine that stablilises his blends.
Jean-Marc’s winemaking, like most of the best growers, is one of evolved tradition, respectful of the past but watchful for new ideas and improvements. Tasting here the first of the mighty impressive 2012 vins clairs, a pipette drawn ****Chardonnay from Pierry and Chavot had beautiful mineral fruit and a spine of fine acidity, made in 20 hl oak foudres (11.3 abv, pH). Tiny quantities, though. A meunier ***La Loge (Pierry) yielded more grapes. Buxomly fine, non-malo for both these. Lastly, a brilliant Pierry Blanc de Noirs, more Meunier than Pinot Noir – a riot of wild raspberries ****
Champagne of the day –Cuvée Comédie 2007 70:15:15 Chard/PN/Meunier. Dosage 4g/l).
Energy, tension, evolving vinosity –elegance from Chardonnay lees. Points: 17.5 on scale 20