Editor’s Note: Champagne is a wine that is under pressure. It should always be well chilled before opening. Always exercise caution when opening a bottle of sparkling wine. Never use a corkscrew. Point the bottle away from people and objects. Use a clean towel or cloth to firmly grip the bottle. Gently remove the wire stopper while firmly holding the cork in place. Then with thumb and forefinger, remove the cork slowly from the bottle. Do not let the cork fly. Enjoy!
The house of Philipponnat, located in Mareuil-sur-Ay on the southern slopes of the Montagne de Rheims, dates to 1522, which makes it one of the oldest concerns in Champagne. Nonetheless, this relatively small house has always kept a low profile, preferring that its superb portfolio of Champagne wines speak for themselves. Consequently, Philipponnat has been likened to Krug and is known in uncommon circles as a true connoisseurs’ Champagne. Michelin-starred restaurants, world renowned chefs, sommeliers, and private clubs constitute the natural ambassadors of Philipponnat’s wines.
In Champagne, each house creates its own style. The Philipponnat style is uniformly one of power, which is married to grace. From the house’s Brut Royale Réserve to its tête de cuvée Clos des Goisses, all Philipponnat Champagnes are full-bodied, highly structured wines that remain delicate and fresh; and with the exception of the Blanc de Blancs (white wine from only white grapes), all rely heavily on Pinot Noir from Champagne’s greatest vineyards. In addition, Philipponnat’s vintage wines and reserve cuvées age beautifully and gracefully. The date of disgorgement on the back of each bottle of Philipponnat provides an indication of how youthful the wine is. The winery’s treasure vault holds a cache of old vintages, some more than 50 years old, which remain in superb condition – testament to the extraordinary longevity of this great Champagne house’s wines.
In addition to a particularly fine Royale Réserve Brut, which ranks consistently with connoisseurs and critics among the top non-vintage Champagnes, Philipponnat fashions a full-flavored Blanc de Blancs, Vintage Réserve Millésimée and Réserve Rosée Brut, and several specialty cuvées. Clos des Goisses is the most illustrious of these cuvées from a single 12 acre plot of the same name of which Philipponnat retains sole ownership. Clos des Goisses is the most famous vineyard in all Champagne. Consequently, varying amounts of Pinot Noir from Clos des Goisses are added into many of Philipponnat’s Champagnes to furnish the additional depth and structure for which this Champagne house is justly renowned.