Grower Champagne Club – February 2020

José Michel et Fils, Clos Saint Jean, 2011, Blanc de Blancs, $64
José Michel comes from one of the oldest winegrowing families in the small village of Moussy, just south of Epernay. The family has owned vineyards in the area since 1847 and they produced their first vintage in 1955. Today they have about 11 hectares of vineyards in several villages, mostly in the Côtes d’Epernay, planted to 45% Pinot Meunier, 45% Chardonnay, and 10% Pinot Noir, with an average vine age of 30 years. In 1958 José became the first in his family to plant Chardonnay, in vineyards situated on lower slopes with their more clacareous soil. His 100% Pinot Meunier has long been a shop favorite, but we were delighted to discover this vintage Blanc de Blancs. It is 100% Chardonnay sourced from Clos Saint Jean, a single vineyard parcel (or lieu-dit) of Chardonnay that José replanted in 2004 through 2006, next to the village of Château Thierry in the Marne Valley. The historical name of this site implies its former ownership by the church. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, preserving its freshness and acidity, then aged in 600-liter foudres for eight months. After secondary fermentation it was cellared on the lees for six years, developing further texture and depth. It gets eight grams dosage, which adds just the right touch of softness to the natural acidity of the wine. The Clos Saint Jean Champagne is fresh and elegant, with complex aromas and flavors of stone fruit, creamy texture, and a subtle hint of nuttiness. It would be great on its own, or paired with rich fish or white meat dishes or with appetizers.