The wines of Champagne Philipponnat
Impressive Champagnes, including the remarkable Clos des Goisses

Champagne Philipponnat - Domaine du Clos des Goisses
13, rue du Pont - 51160 Mareuil-sur-A˙,  France,  Tel : +33 (0)3 26 56 93 00
Website: www.philipponnat.com  

The modern era of Champagne Philipponnat began in 1910 when Auguste and Pierre Philipponnat established their Champagne house in its current location of Mareuil sur A˙. Things were tricky then: before long, the world would be at war, and the region was only just beginning to recover from the phylloxera crisis.

It was in 1935 that Pierre Philipponnat acquired their crown jewel: the Clos des Goisses vineyard. It’s 5.5 hectares of steeply sloping, south-facing vineyard (now 3.5 ha Pinot Noir, 2 ha Chardonnay, but back in 1964 it was exclusively Chardonnay), and makes one of the region’s most remarkable single-vineyard wines. With its thinly topped pure chalky soils and an average growing season temperature of 1.5 °C higher than the rest of Champagne, this clos is a special site, and the wine from it is truly remarkable.

Philipponnat is primarily a Pinot Noir house, and its vineyards are in prime Pinot Noir territory: Mareuil sur A˙, A˙, Avenay, and Mutigny. However, all cuvées contain at least 30% Chardonnay for freshness. Its 20 hectares of vineyards represent about a third of its total needs, with the rest being bought in from growers.

In the 1990s, Philipponnat’s reputation began to slip (it passed from family ownership and became part of the Marie-Brizard drinks group in the 1970s), and in 1997 the house was acquired by Bruno Paillard and became part of Lanson-Boizel-Chanoine Champagne Group ( www.lanson-bcc.com) . Charles Philipponnat, grandson of Auguste, and who had been working at Moėt, was brought in to run the house in 1999. Production is currently around 600–700 000 bottles a year and quality is impeccable across the range.

(UK agent Les Caves de Pyrene)

THE WINES

Champage Philipponnat Royale Reserve ND
Zero dosage. Taut, focused and fine with pithy citrus notes and some apple on the nose. The palate is lively and bracing. It's crisp to the point of austerity, with a lemony finish. 90/100 10/12

Champagne Philipponnat Royale Reserve ND
This is a zero dosage style, based on the 2005 vintage with 28% of reserve wines, and mostly Pinot Noir. Disgorged October 2008; 12% alcohol. Yellow/gold colour. Aromatic, herby, gently toasty nose with some richness. The palate is fresh, bright and savoury with good acidity and subtly toasty citrus fruit character. Fresh and broad at the same time, this is a distinctive wine. Very fine, if tending towards the austere. 90/100 10/10  

Champagne Philipponnat Royale Reserve ND
From the 2005 vintage, with no dosage added. Deep yellow/gold colour. Taut, warm, toasty and herby, with a lovely savoury, fruity quality and good acidity. This avoids being at all harsh, with a honeyed, toasty richness and a dry palate. Nicely complex. 91/100 07/09

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2004
Very fine and fresh with lemon and apple notes, as well as some riper characters. Subtle toasty notes, as well as taut, precise citrus and herbs. Fine, precise and focused. 93/100 10/12

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2000 
12% alcohol; 5.2 g/l dosage; disgorged September 2007. Fresh, aromatic, toasty nose with lovely citrus freshness and subtle herby notes. The palate is savoury and taut with nice citrus freshness. Lovely precision and fruitiness. Concentrated and quite complex with lovely finesse and low dosage precision. Quite vinous. 93/100 07/10

Champagne Philipponnat Grand Blanc 2004
12% alcohol; 5 g/l dosage; disgorged July 2009. Fresh, aromatic, pure nose with lovely citrus intensity and taut herby, toasty notes. The palate has a nice lemony quality and some citrus peel bitterness. Precision, concentration and good acidity. Bold flavours; strongly savoury. A brilliant effort. 94/100 07/10  

Champagne Philipponnat ‘Cuvee 1522′ Grand Cru 2003
Sweet apple and pear notes on the nose, which is fine and expressive. Taut palate, despite the warm vintage, with good acidity. Pure and precise with citrus and herb notes. Fine. 93/100 10/12

Champagne Philipponnat ‘Cuvee 1522′ Grand Cru 2000
60% Ay Pinot Noir; 40% Grand Cru Cotes de Blancs Chardonnay. 4 g/litre dosage, disgorged July 2007. Tightly aromatic with savoury toast and herb nose. Very fine and quite vinous. The palate is savoury, complex, taut and focused with pithy, toasty, citrussy depth and a hint of warm nuttiness, as well as fresh acidity. Lovely purity and complexity: a youthful, powerful wine with a lovely future ahead of it. 95/100 08/10

Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2002
It's so hard to assess this wine at such an early stage, because I reckon this is one of the great vintages, and it's currently so youthful. Fine, expressive nose. Complex and concentrated with citrus, pear and herbs. Lovely depth here: taut, precise and still youthful, with subtle toast. Needs a lot of time, and this score may well climb. 96/100 10/12

Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2001
From a tricky vintage, but it's a great wine. Aromatic and inviting with toast, pear and some richner notes on the nose. The palate has finesse, with open citrus fruits and some linearity. Crisp and fine, for drinking now and over the next few years. 95/100 10/12

Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2001
Deep yellow colour. Very intense and savoury with some richness, showing notes of peach, nuts, apricot and toast. Really fresh as well as being powerful with some red berry fruit hints and a lively citrussy finish. Just fabulous for the lowly 2001 vintage. 95/100
05/12

Champagne Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2000
12% alcohol. From a south-facing, steeply sloped vineyard of 5.5 hecatres, this is a blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay, and it’s one of the best young Champagnes I’ve tasted. Full gold colour. Amazingly rich and complex with some toasty notes as well as hints of fresh raspberry and berry fruits, alongside the pear and apple fruit. Really structured and intense, yet fresh and mineral too. Brilliant. 97/100 11/11

See also:

Champagne Bollinger RD: a vertical tasting
Champagne Krug 
Champagne Salon and Delamotte

Wines tasted as indicated (month/year)  
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