Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Champagne Jean Josselin in Gyé-sur-Seine: Tour and Tasting with Jean Pierre Josselin - Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
The first stop of the Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) was not in the Bourgogne Region, but in the Champagne Region. The tour – all by coach - started and ended in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It was organized for a special group, the Wine Brotherhood of Hochheim, Germany (Weinfreundeskreis Hochheim).
The first stop of the Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) was a Champage tasting with cellar tour at Champagne Jean Josselin in Gyé-sur-Seine, in the southern part of the Champagne Region, close to the Chablis Region of the Bourgogne.
We were hosted by Veronique and Jean Pierre Josselin and their son Jean-Félix Josselin and Sharona Tsubota, the Champagne Jean Josselin export manager.
Prowein 2015 in Düsseldorf, Germany – Schiller’s Impressions
Champagne Jean Josselin
The Josselin family has been winegrowers since 1854 in Gyé-sur-Seine in the Côte des Bar, located 150km from Epernay and 200km from Reims and crossed by two rivers: the Seine and the Aube. The Côte des Bar became part of the official Champagne region in the early 1900s.
In 1957, Jean Josselin decided to create his own brand, Champagne Jean Josselin.
Jean Pierre Josselin: Our region is characterized by its hills, steeper than those of our neighbors in the Marne. Their climate is oceanic, while ours is continental, our soil type is clay and limestone, while the soil of the Marne is quite chalky. Our vineyard consists of 14 parcels, for the most part in the communal territory of Gyé sur Seine and the neighboring commune of Neuville sur Seine.
The Process of Making Champagne
Jean-Félix Josselin took us through the various steps of making Champagne.
Pressing: After the delicate stage of the harvest comes the pressing, always respecting the traditions and rules of the champagne appellation. The grapes are pressed as soon as possible after collection, in order to avoid coloration of the juice from the skins. The choice of a traditional "cock" style winepress allows for a gentle and slow press. It treats the different areas of the grape berries with respect, and enables us to get more than one press: the "cuvée," fine and balanced, and the first "taille," fruitier and more supple.
The First Two Fermentations: The first fermentation is called alcoholic fermentation, which converts the wort (juice) into wine. It takes about one week.The wine is then racked several times to obtain complete clarification. The second is called malolactic fermentation, and takes a month and a half or more, depending on the year, until after the end of the harvest. This fermentation changes the harsh malic acid in the wine to softer lactic acid.
The Blending: It is an art of finesse, which requires know-how and talent, to marry together wines which have not yet matured, of different varietals and different years, in order to obtain a balanced and harmonious wine. This is because there is no single "champagne," but rather, many champagnes made according to each house's preferred style. After blending, the wines are filtered. Then comes the time of bottling called "tirage". At this point, we add a "liqueur de tirage" composed of sweet wine and yeast. Closed with a simple stainless steel cap, the bottle is laid on laths or in a pallet box, and placed in temperature-controlled storage or in our cool, dark caves.
Bottle Fermentation: The slow transformation of sugar under the effects of the yeast gives rise to bottle fermentation (sometimes referred to as "secondary fermentation"), which creates fine, persistent bubbles and light foam, the defining features of champagne. This fermentation causes the yeast to settle.
A Long Rest: When the fermentation is complete, the bottles stay in the cellar until the wine reaches its full maturity. Time plays an important role in the quality of the wine.
The Extraction: Champagne methods used to eliminate the deposits in the wine bottle include riddling and disgorging. Riddling consists of rotating the bottle a quarter turn every day for 3 to 5 weeks. We used to use traditional slanted boards. Today, these boards and the hand of the winemaker are replaced by gyropaletts. The disgorgement expels the deposits which have accumulated in the neck of the bottle. These are perhaps the most delicate steps of all.
Doasage: The last step is to integrate the "liqueur de dosage," made from cane sugar which the cellarman dissolves in a liter of older wine. The proportion of liquor added determines the final type of wine (brut, dry, semi-dry). The bottle finally receives the traditional cork, firmly held in place by the muzzle. The champagne has in fact a pressure of 5 atmospheres.
The web site of Champagne Josselin contains an interview with Jean-Pierre Josselin. I am copying part of the interview. For the full interview, go here.
The world of champagne is dominated by large groups, is this a danger to you? What is your position in relation to them? There are two ways to look at these things: On the one hand, we have our identity as winemaker, the authenticity of the product, good relation between quality and price, many assets which more and more consumers are looking to find. On the other hand, these houses push to make things better. Especially in conveying the image of champagne worldwide as a wine for grand occasions, and by developing the best techniques of cultivation and winemaking.
Do you think you work differently from the large groups of high reputation, and so is that two different approaches to a common passion for champagne? More specifically, what is the real difference in level to the final consumer? The work is certainly no different, but the means, yes. When the same man works from start to finish - from preparing the land, to planting, winemaking and marketing - then passion becomes an indispensable criterion.
We talk so much of sustainable agriculture, of the environment and organic farming, what is your position on this question? What are the concrete measures that you have set up? What do they bring to you? The philosophy of sustainable agriculture is opposed to systematic practices in the market and has abolished a number of products (weed killers, pesticides, insecticides). We have applied this philosophy to our vineyards now for several years. We work in partnership with Jean Marie Balland, founder of the company ACTIVITUS, whose extensive experience with other French vineyards will help us in the choice of these new techniques. He follows the evolution of our parcels with fortnightly visits. His experience, his passion and knowledge within our group are very valuable and provide sound advice.
The objective in the more or less long term is to become closer to "organic" viticulture, and above all to treat the land with care.
We are engaged in a great adventure which will bear fruit only after a few years. A return to simple methods (such as those employed by "Interceps") and a greater respect of nature and plants must lead us to regain some typicity in our wines. The success of such an undertaking will require a lot of work and questioning of our practices. It is all above a team effort that requires thought and patience.
What are the European standards or other standards with which you must comply? More than European standards, Champagne has implemented its own standards and regulations for a long time. These include: AOC boundaries, spacing of vines, planting density, varietals, use of pressing centers, weight of the grapes in the wine press, pressing rules, inspection and certification of wines, legislation on trademark filing, label notations....
This operation was passed onto you by your father, and you will certainly transmit it to your son; what is the difference between the champagnes of yesterday and the ones of today and tomorrow? In the past, the Josselin champagnes were mostly made from Pinot Noir. We opened up our champagne range with the traditional blend of three varietals and the Blanc de Blancs, thus using varietials other than Pinot Noir.
In addition, our son Jean-Félix Josselin has recently completed his training and joined the family operation.
Nature changes, the climate changes, the years are different and yet the champagne seems always of equal quality; how do you manage this delicate equation? If our wines seem to you to be of equal quality, it is because Champagne has established a qualitative reserve system (blockage of wine stock) which, by blending the wines of different years, maintains the same style relatively easily.
But the job of winemaker does not stop there. Each year is a new challenge. The perfect wine does not exist; we must always seek excellence in meeting the basic principles of winemaking, combined with new techniques and the passion of the winemaker. We also strive for regularity of our cuvées.
The drinking habits and tastes of your customers, do they evolve over time? Do you try to adapt, and if so, how? The wine world is constantly evolving. The consideration of our techiques is perpetual. While respecting the traditions of champagne, we are interested in new techniques for the sole purpose of producing champagne that shows the image of our house, reflecting our family traditions. Then it is true that we must listen to our customers, the consumers, and respond if needed to their expectations.
This is actually what happened to our rosé champagne.
The popularity of this wine over several years has led us to produce more, but we have failed to satisfy all its fans, as we sadly sell out of it each year.
What future do you want for the region and especially for the champagnes? Globalization, the production of wines labeled "champagne" abroad, does it bring a dangerous competition or on the contrary is it driving innovation? With a production of 320 million bottles, the Champagne region covers a relatively small vineyard area (34,045 hectares). The originality and the specificity of this wine do not make this region an Eden. More and more winemakers around the world sparkle with imagination in the development of new wines. Champagne is not a closed region and the "family" of winemakers is a large family. There can be no competition for those persons who consider winemaking a true art and passion that drives us still further, in all humility.
The Champagnes we Tasted
Here are the Champagnes we tasted, including the comments of Champagne Jean Josselin. All Champagnes poured were around Euro 20 ex- winery.
Blanc de Blanc
A secret cuvee, issued from one sole vintage, it expresses the finesse and vivacity of this Chardonnay, an exceptional varietalVintage 2010.
A xhampagne for any moment, a marriage of Pinot Noir (70%) and Chardonnay (30%), of fruit and freshness..
Cuvee des Jean
Generosity and strenght characterize this cuvee. 100% Pinot Noir.
A complex and mature champagne. Good to pair with rich and full-flavored food.
100% Pinot Noir.
Our rose Champagne, rich and fruity, astonishing and pleasurable. Its color and red fruit aromas evolve from the maceration of juice and skins of the Pinot Noir, for a few days.
Douceur de L'Aube
A demi-sec champagne. The sweetness and effervescence are united in this champagne, reserved for the end of the meal and perfect with dessert.
Thanks to all for an outstandingtasting and tour at Champagne Jean Josselin.
Postings on the Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France (Posted and Forthcoming)
Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015), France
Champagne Jean Josselin in Gyé-sur-Seine: Cellar Tour and Champagne Tasting in the Garden with Veronique, Jean Pierre and Jean Felix Josselin as well as Sharona Tsubota - Bourgogne Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)
The Wines of Tonnerre (Bourgogne)
Visit: Domaine Séguinot-Bordet in Maligny, Chablis: Cellar Tour and Chablis Tasting with Owner and Winemaker Jean-François Bordet
Domaine Brocard in Chablis: Lunch, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Odile Van Der Moere, Responsable de Cave
Dinner at Hostellerie Chateau de la Barge in Creches-sur-Saone
Domaine Ferret in Fuissé, Poully-Fuissé, Mâconnais: Vineyard Walk, Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Cyril Laumain, Chef de Cave
Lunch at Hostellerie d'Heloise in Cluny
Domaine Theulot Juillot in Mercurey, Côte Chalonnaise: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Nathalie and Jean-Claude Theulot
Maison Olivier Leflaive in Puligny-Montrachet: Vineyard Walk Cellar Tour and Lunch with Wine Tasting at Restaurant La Table d’Olivier Leflaive with Patrick Leflaive
Wine Tasting at Domaine Mestre Père & Fils in Santenay with Jonathan Maestre
Visit: Domaine Bouchard Père & Fils in Beaune
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Beaune, Bourgogne
Visit: Musée de l’Hospice de Beaune with Karoline Knoth, M.A.
Domaine A-F Gros in Beaune: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Owner and Winemaker Mathias Parent
Visit: Maison Joseph Drouhin in Beaune
Domaine Faiveley in Nuits-Saint-George: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Mathilde Nicolas (Brand Ambassador)
Wine Tasting at Domaine du Château de Prémeaux in Nuits Saint Georges with Owner and Winemaker Arnaud Pelletier
Domaine Armelle et Bernard Rion in Vosne-Romanée: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Bernard Rion and Alice Rion
Domaine Guillon & Fils in Gevrey Chambertin: Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting with Jean-Michel Guillon
Visit: Château du Clos de Vougeot
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