Taking first prize in the Gosset Matchmakers competition earned sommelier Elisa Marchini and chef Riccardo Pozzobon the trip of a lifetime to Champagne.
Their host, and a fount of champagne knowledge, was the house’s export director, Bertrand Verduzier. Whether it was history – which Gosset, as the oldest wine house in Champagne, has plenty of – or the finer points of its approach to winemaking, the two winners would leave far more versed than when they arrived.
Gosset’s dedication to using only the highest-quality grapes in Champagne couldn’t have been more evident during a tour of the region, which included a rare tasting of mono-cépage champagnes along the way. The house works hand in hand with its wine-growers, and each parcel is vinified separately, Verduzier explained.
He also spoke of Gosset’s house style, not softened by the use of malolactic fermentation. Gosset is also known for ageing its wines for longer than many other houses.
Perhaps one of the most enlightening parts of the trip was a hands-on blending session with Gosset’s cellar master, Odilon de Varine. This started with a tasting of several base wines from various villages, all from 2016, a fascinating insight into the palette that de Varine has to work with when creating his various blends.
A wine from Oger, for example, was characterful and packed with fruit, while the example from Avize was well balanced and good for blending. The Vertus was structured, while a wine from Cramant brought some finesse to the table.
The latter was selected by de Varine as the base for an example blend that he began to put together with Marchini and Pozzobon, adding Oger, Vertus and more. Small tweaks brought about big changes in the final wine, highlighting the complexity of de Varine’s role, and the beauty of the final blends he creates.
‘My favourite part of the trip was the blending with de Varine,’ said Marchini. ‘You can visit vineyards any time, but something like this is unique.’
As a chef, Pozzobon could relate to the blending session. ‘It’s like a recipe. If you have good flavours, you can make a good wine, or a good dish. You need good ingredients, as well as people with good palates, and good knowledge,’ he said.
A trip with a pair of wine-and-food-matching champions wouldn’t be complete without some fine food to enjoy alongside Gosset’s champagnes. Michelin-starred Le Millénaire restaurant in Reims was the setting for one such meal, accompanied, of course, by a selection of fine champagnes from Gosset’s portfolio.
The trip culminated in a tour of Gosset’s cellars, and a celebratory glass for the winners from a freshly disgorged 1979 bottle of champagne.