Champagne Jacques Selosse is located in the village of Avize, situated in the Côtes des Blancs. A family run property which encompasses close to 8 hectares of vines in the crus of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Ambonnay.
Anselme Selosse’s ancestors have been growing grapes in Avize for centuries, but it was not until 1959 that his father, Jacques, became the first in the family to produce and sell his own Champagne. That first vintage yielded just 2,500 bottles because Jacques Selosse hedged his bets by continuing to sell virtually all of his grapes. After obtaining a BTS degree in viticulture and enology at Beaune, Anselme Selosse took over from his father (1974), who was by then producing 12,000 bottles per year but was still selling the majority of the crop. Anselme continued to make Champagne like his father, but confesses, “I did not consume my wines.
“Then in 1976, my third year of winemaking, I was confronted with a great drought. I said to myself that the grapes were so ripe, I must produce less foam — just a half-mousse. So I put in less sugar, and by doing this I realized I had changed my approach. I discovered freedom.”
Selosse took over the reins at his family domaine and decided to elevate the specific qualities of the plots that he controlled. He quickly transitioned to an organic regimen of farming, slashing yields to sometimes less than half of what his neighbors were producing and often waiting much longer to pick. He also began fermenting all of his wines with indigenous yeasts in oak barrels, as well as preventing them from going through their secondary malolactic fermentations. Selosse keeps sulfur additions to a minimum and practices battonage, the stirring of the lees in the barrel for added complexity. Finally he adds very little dosage, the mix of sugar and reserve wine used to top up the bottle and round out the wine before it receives its final cork.
From 1990 to 1996 the principles of agro-biology were applied in the vineyards, from 1996 his focus turned to bio-dynamics. In 2002 Anselme distanced himself from the bio-dynamic doctrine, defying the usual codes and processes as he did not wish to have any hand in influencing nature. The thoughts and reflections of Masanobu Fukuoa and permaculture had begun to inspire him and subsequently the attention he paid to the vines and the wine.
For the last twenty years, the Selosse family has developed its own system of viticulture which is an approach that follows no set method, but rather permanently adapts itself to the circumstances confronted throughout the growing season in the various vineyard plots. In order to explain their philosophy pertaining to the vines, Anselme and Guillaume (Anselme and Corinne’s son) often make references to “gatherers”, those who venture out into nature to reap the harvest and collect the fruit found there.
The expression of terroir has been one of the greatest advances in the past 3 decades, and no grower has been more influential in its progress than Anselme Selosse. “We should take what nature has given us and not interfere” is a philosophy he pursues more obsessively than any other, making him a visionary mentor who has inspired a generation of growers in Champagne.
With a production of fewer than 60,000 bottles each year, the wines of Selosse rank high among the most prized sparkling wines of all.