Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wine of the Week: Jacques Selosse V.O. Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs

The reason my Wine of the Week is on Sunday this week instead of Friday is because on Friday I was drunk and disoriented, not to mention on a different continent, and I simply forgot that it was Friday. (The reason it's on Sunday, two days later, instead of Saturday is pretty much the same one.) Since it’s a decadent sort of week, I’ve picked a wine that’s a little more decadent than usual.

I had brought a bottle of Jacques Selosse Version Originale with me from Paris to share with friends, as this wine can be somewhat difficult to procure here in the United States. The V.O. comes from Avize, Cramant and Oger, and is a blend of three different vintages (in this case 2002, 2001 and 2000), aged for three and a half to four years on its lees and released without dosage. It's been a while since I've drunk a bottle of this, and it was extremely satisfying to spend several hours watching it evolve: I considered decanting it, but instead we just opened it and drank a bunch of other wines while monitoring its progress.

There’s a deep core of richness that persists on the palate throughout the long, sleek finish, its body and breadth amplified by its vinification in wood. Like all of Selosse’s wines, this possesses a distinct personality and a confident, self-assured character, but the most striking element about it is the way that it seamlessly balances its complexity and richness. There are other champagnes that can be rich — weight, after all, is easy to acquire if that's all you're looking for, even in a northerly region like Champagne — but none do it as stylishly or as harmoniously as Selosse, and most attempts to emulate him are doomed to failure.

My friend Pete, upon seeing this bottle, generously went downstairs to his cellar and brought up a bottle of Selosse's 1988 vintage, and while it was a terrifically thrilling wine, it was still severely intense and wound up. It made the V.O. look downright gentle, although comparing the two eras of winemaking, I did feel that the V.O. showed more fine-ness and elegance, especially in the way that it harmoniously fit all of its parts together.

Jacques Selosse is imported into the United States by The Rare Wine Co., Sonoma, CA, and the suggested retail price for the Version Originale is $130.