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Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2008, 2007, 2006, 1998 & 1996

November 24, 2018

Champagne Philipponnat, the crown jewel of Ay, has a proud history that may be traced back to 1522. At one time, it had supplied to the court of Louis XIV as well. Today, the maison is run by Charles Philipponnat, the 16th generation direct descendent. Of the 17 hectares owned by Philipponnat, the 5.5 ha walled monopole of Clos des Goisses must surely rank as one of the most unique sites of all Champagne. Sited on a very steep slope with a 45-degree incline facing south, not unlike the steep terraces of Rhone, it is planted with both chardonnay and pinot noir in a ratio of about 40:60, subdivided into 14 lots. That’s how its name came about, as goisses means “a steep slope”. These vines are now aged about 35-40 years. Nobody really knows what prompted Philipponnat to grow pinot noir at this place, but I guess the cool northerly climate and altitude are probably important considerations. Philipponnat is truly one estate that likes to do things against the grain. Aside from fashioning its champagne with a predominance of pinot noir, the maison extracts only the very first press from ripe grapes. No new oak is used and the wine is left on lees in bottle longer than usual to enhance depth and complexity. Annual production of Clos des Goisses ranges between 6000-40,000 bottles, depending on the extent of frost damage, if any, during the growing season. Tasting a generous vertical with Philipponnat’s export director Antoine de Boysson organised by FICOFI at the Four Seasons, Singapore, on 22 November 2018, the Philipponnat Clos des Goisses is highly consistent in its display of power, delicate fine detail, structure, precision and elegance with the pinot component being so subtly integrated within the depths. This is why Philipponnat has always been my favourite champagne. The 2008 is a must-buy, while I can tell you in advance as well that the forthcoming 2010 release in a couple of years will be the lowest yield ever.

Vignoble-de-Champagne

Clos des Goisses (picture from ilovechampagne.fr)

2008 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Extra Brut. Poured from magnum. In this stellar vintage where chardonnay has been absolutely stunning, Philipponnat has wisely fashioned its 2008 Clos des Goisses with a predominance of chardonnay rather than pinot noir. The outcome is a great success. This wine opens with a fabulous bouquet, effusive in dense aromas of delicate lime, white and yellow citrus that carried seamlessly onto a palate richly layered with very fine complex flinty minerals, displaying great vigour, concentration, acidity and structure that oozed with seductive sweetness on a bed of soft gentle minerals that conferred glorious texture, linearity, stunning inner precision and detail, finishing with great persistence and dry intensity. Wonderful stuff, absolutely enthralling. Outstanding.

2007 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut. Slightly more reserved though showing good lift on the palate with classic tones of champagne underscored by darker deeper notes of cool ripe pinot amidst gentle yeasty undertones. Medium-full, displaying dry minerally textures with some dry intensity, finishing with good linearity along with gentle traces of pomelo and bitter lemon, very well balanced with fine presence.

2006 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses Brut. Wonderful lift, noticeably more deft and agile, proffering very finely-grained honeysuckle and fig with a deeper note of currants. Rounded on the palate with lovely presence and concentration, very fresh, displaying a broad expanse of dryish fullness with delicate tones. Possesses great verve, depth and balance within a compact structure. Excellent.

1996 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses. Lifted deep aromas with a slight earthy note of aged minerals. Displays great expanse and depth on the palate with a distinct old recessed chalkiness with flavours leaning towards darker fruits, still imbued with excellent freshness, acidity and concentration, superbly integrated with superb presence and wonderful complexity, imparting exquisite intensity throughout its lasting length. Outstanding.

1998 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses. Rich bouquet of honeyed toast, exuding excellent depth with a lifted tone of apricots that led to a full palate layered with ripe dark berries and aged chalky tones underscored by a deep vein of stern minerals, finishing with superb dry intensity. Not as exuberant as the 1996 and it definitely feels older than it is.

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