Pinot meunier hasn’t had much respect in the wine world. For winemakers in Champagne, it’s the secret lover they embrace with pleasure but don’t want their friends to find out about. The historical poor reputation of the the grape (called meunier in the region) is the result of poor understanding of how and where to grow it and how to handle the fruit in the winery. Today, producers understand the need for clearer juice, long fermentation, strict temperature control during fermentation (15o C) and malolactic fermentation. These (and other) technical advances have promoted the use of meunier to add richness, elegance, and telltale toasted bread notes and a hint of red berry fruit to Champagnes.
Champagne Moussé Fils produces wines predominately based on pinot meunier. Their house motto is “profondement meunier,” which translates as “deeply meunier.” The varietal thrives on the fertile soils in the vineyards Moussé owns or controls at the western end of the Montagne de Reims (black clay over green clay over mixed clay and sand over Champenoise chalk). The vignoble covers five family-owned hectares in Cuisles and two rented hectares in other villages on the same hillside. These sites are largely unsuitable for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Champagne Moussé Fils was founded in 1923 by Eugène Moussé. His great grandson Cédric is the current winemaker at the house. Cédric is a convivial and energetic fellow who delighted CWW members visiting the winery in early October of 2016 generally and by disgorging a bottle à la volée. His innovative inclination has led to heavy investment in sustainable practices at the winery ranging from using and recycling well water to relying on solar and other renewable energy sources at the winery. He also engages in ongoing experimentation to identify best practices in the vineyard and the chai.
The Moussé range of Champagnes includes Cuvée Extra Or d’Eugène (Blanc de Noirs – Extra Brut, Solera 2003 – 2011, 80% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, low dosage), L’Or d’Eugène (Blanc de Noirs Solera 2003-2013, 80% Meunier, 20$ Pinot Noir), Terre d’Illite 2011 (Blanc de Noirs, 95% Meunier, 5% Pinot Noir), Spécial Club 2012 (Blanc de Noirs, 100% Meunier), Spécial Club 2012 (Rosé de saignée, 100% Meunier), Anecdote (Blanc de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, Lieu dit “Les Varosses”). None was less than very good, and the rest were excellent to outstanding. The house produces fewer than sixty thousand bottles a year. Two thirds of that is exported to markets in Europe, Canada, the US, South Africa and Asia.
Left: Cédric Moussé’s energy, intelligence and creativity are strongly reflected in his family house’s physical plant and sustainable green practices as well as their wines.
Centre: This scale model of the soil profile in the Moussé vineyards demonstrates the fertile black and green topsoils that make them too fertile for pinot noir and chardonnay.
Right: Cedric obtained this stainless steel amphora to determine whether its shape might improve wines fermented and stored in it.