Today, we finish our tour through Champagne with my very first stop on the trip, to see Anselme Selosse in Avize. There's no figure in the region that demands equal interest and intrigue as Selosse. His domaine is situated with his hotel, Les Avizés, at the foot of surprisingly steep slopes in this Grand Cru village famed for its Chardonnay. Today's offer turns to three distinctly different bottlings from Anselme, all of which were tasted with him in a tour de force three-hour cellar visit.

Checking into hotel Les Avizés was really more like checking into Hotel Selosse, with Anselme coincidentally at the desk at reception. Many guests plan to attend the tasting and cellar visit with Anselme on Monday evening. Visitors were pulled from throughout the globe, all making a pilgrimage of sorts to see the legendary figure who was set to retire. The plan has been to slowly hand off the reigns over several vintages to his son, Guillaume.

Attending our tasting were wine lovers from an array of backgrounds, from collectors, to merchants, to vignerons. My French is usually just fine for visits without English, but Selosse's mad scientist-like enthusiasm and speech left me turning for translations to a new French acquaintance who had made the trek from his stage working at Domaine Ostertag in Alsace.

The tour started with explanations of the history of the domaine and the philosophy it embodies. Ansleme makes it clear he's not interested in the dogma of viticulture and production. His intention upon taking over the estate from his father, Jacques in 1980 was to greatly reduce yields and remove all chemicals from the land. For Anselme, the goal was expression of terroir above all, and this meant doing everything possible to have root systems deeper into bedrock in his famed parcels in Avize, Cramant, and Oger.

Selosse's style can be difficult to sum up succinctly, and touring the cellar to get deeper technical information only exacerbated this issue. Anselme's wines are, of course, defined by their oxidative nature coming from aging in barrel, of which 20% can be new. But, he's separated from others in this camp due to his protocol of harvesting with incredibly high ripeness levels. This is not about simply waiting to pick as much as it's about crazy fastidious work in vines throught the year.

The key to the brilliance in his wines lie in their ability to somehow harness a profound streak of minerality, underpinning all of the high-impact fruit with chalky structure and tactile intensity. THIS is what makes Selosse a master of Champagne, and his disciples carry on elements of his style, but alas, there's only one Selosse.

In the cellar we sampled several barrels from different sites, and bottle tastings started with Initial and went all the way through the 2009 Vintage champagne, not set for release for another four years. There was even a pétillant-naturel that was a huge departure from the style of the others, but still had that Selosse signature with a glossy texture and softer contours.

For me, it was the 2005 Vintage champagne that really summed up the genius behind Selosse. A vintage known for ripe, fleshy fruit. A year where one might expect that Selosse full-throttle style to   find a challenge insurmountable in crafting a wine with a firm backbone of minerality. But, the 2005 was just a brilliant bottle, no elements of fruit detracted from the pulsating energy that carried through an un-ending finish. The shimmer and crystalline chalk tones took center stage in a wine that showed the same freshness more common in a vintage like 2008. But, of course, the concentrated orchard notes of 2005 greeted you on the attack and moved in for a firm grip of mineral tension.

Anselme Selosse is still a mentor to so many of the talented names that have worked under him like, Alexandre Chartogne, Jerome Prevost, and 
Bertrand Gautherot of Vouette et Sorbée. In world of sparkling wine, there's no name that I'm personally more excited to drink than those coming from the master. From Intial through the the Vintagebottlings, Selosse is simply a category unto himself.

6x Selosse Initial Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne NV (DG January 2017)
$219 per bottle.

1x Jacques Selosse Rosé Champagne (DG July 2016)
$329 per bottle.

6x Jacques Selosse Rosé Champagne (DG April 2016)
$329 per bottle.

4x 2005 Jacques Selosse Millésime Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut Champagne
$499 per bottle.