Philipponnat is a relatively small-sized Champagne house with an extremely long vine growing and winemaking tradition dating back to the 16th Century.
The House is famous for owning the Clos des Goisses, the biggest and steepest Clos in the Champagne region, and for producing connoisseur fine sparkling wines.
Philipponnat Wine Reviews & Tasting Notes
The History of the Philipponnat Family in Champagne starts in 1522.
At the time, Apvril le Philipponnat owned vines at Le Léon, between Ay and Dizy. In the 16th century the family’s ancestors were winegrowers and merchants. More importantly, they were suppliers to the court of French King Louis XIV, magistrates and Royal Mayors of Ay – a town which was directly dependent on the Crown since the era of the Counts of Champagne.
In 1697, Pierre Philipponnat registered the family’s coat of arms still used to this day.
The House itself was founded by Auguste and Pierre Philipponnat in 1910.
It is now part of the Lanson BCC but run independently by a member of the founding family: Charles Philipponnat.
Charles Philipponnat in the Clos des Goisses Vineyard
Philipponnat owns 17 hectares (42 acres) of vineyards all classified as Premier Cru in th Montagne de Reims area of Champagne, in the towns of Mareuil-sur-AY, Ay, and Aveny.
The house also cultivates 3 additional hectares of vines it doesn’t own.
In addition, grapes are bought from growers in the Northern part of the Montagne de Reims area in Grand Cru and Premier Cru areas.
All vineyards are cultivated using environmentally friendly practices close to the ones used in biodynamics.
The Famous Clos des Goisses
Philipponnat owns the biggest ‘Clos’ or walled vineyard in the whole of Champagne: the Clos des Goisses.
With its 5.5 hectares (13 acres), not only is it the biggest Clos, but it is also one of the very steepest vineyards in the region, at an outstanding 45% incline angle!
In the old Champagne dialect, Gois or Goisse means a very steep slope. Its name is deserved then.
It is also the region’s warmest terroir: facing due south, this pure chalk slope receives no shade whatsoever from sunrise to sunset.
Just check out the slide show below to realise how vertiginous it really is:
Winery & Underground Galleries
Philipponnat winery lies over historic 18th century cellars that were part of the Château de Mareuil.
It counts with 1.5 kilometers of underground galleries hosting the winery and bottle aging facilities.
One of Philipponnat’s absolute distinctive winemaking feature is the use of Solera systems to blend reserve wines.
This how the house explains the process and its aim: “This technique is a very longstanding House tradition; it consists of keeping reserve wines in oak barrels and including them in non-vintage blends (in a proportion of one quarter to one third) and using this blend as a reserve wine for the following blend. This progressive dilution allows every bottle to retain a trace of previous years’ wines blended since the very beginning. Successive Cellar Masters have attached great importance to handing down this expertise.”
Malolactic fermentations are done on most of Philipponnat Champagne wines except for:
- the Clos des Goisses wines: the exposure directly to the South of the vineyard allows the grape to reach high levels of maturity. The wines therefore require all the grape’s acidity to be preserved in order to retain balance and freshness.
- the wines that are fermented in barrel and get enough body from the oak to live with a balanced life with malic acid.
Aging in bottle on lees is rather long and extended at Philipponnat as follows:
- 3 years approx. for the Non-Vintage Cuvées
- 6 years approx. for the Vintage Cuvées
- 8 to 10 years for the Clos des Goisses
Philipponnat produces about 600,000 bottles in total every year in various cuvées including the following one:
- Royale Réserve Brut
- Royale Réserve Non Dosé
- Royale Réserve Rosé
- Vintage Blanc de Noirs
- Vintage Grand Blanc
- 1522 Cuvée
I had the pleasure of sampling most of them during a visit at Philipponnat cellars during spring 2016.
See Cuvées images below. Find all wine reviews and tasting notes in the corresponding section at the start of this post.
Bug thanks to Charles Phlipponnat and Nicoletta de Nicolo forgiving me a warm welcome at the winery.