CellarHand had long been on a fruitless hunt for another top-flight grower Champagne to complement the outstanding Jacquesson wines in our portfolio. What a blessing, then, to chance upon the superb wares of Jean-Marc & Oriane Sélèque during a trip to the region in late 2017. Jean-Marc Sélèque’s grandfather Henri planted his first vines in Pierry in 1965, a tradition taken up when father Richard began bottling his grower Champagne in the ‘70s. Jean-Marc himself took over duties in 2008 and began transforming this into the very model of a top-flight grower it is today. Viticulture is organic (not certified) to preserve a living and varied ecosystem and make the vines more autonomous and resistant. There is a highly qualified team of five people throughout the year to perfect the work in the vineyard, which includes ploughing soil, strict pruning and cover-cropping to promote the rooting of the vine and microbial life. Under Jean-Marc, the estate has been renamed and the range redefined, while the completion of the new cellar in 2015 is a further statement of intent. Pierry itself is a premier cru village just outside Épernay, known (and increasingly so, with Jean-Marc as flag-bearer) as prime terroir for distinguished Meunier. A further six villages within a tiny radius account for the rest of the fruit. These are: Moussy and Épernay (situated, like Pierry, on the Coteaux Sud d’Épernay); Dizy, Mardeuil and Boursault in the Vallée de la Marne; and Vertus in the Côte des Blancs.
Jean-Marc is a worldly winelover who marries respect for terroir with contemporary open-mindedness. He spent time making fizz in Australia and the U.S. for Chandon at the start of his Pierry quest. Jacquesson, across the way in Dizy, has since been an indelible influence. Like their CellarHand stablemates the Chiquet brothers, every step chez Jean-Marc and Oriane has been chosen at the expense of myriad alternatives rejected because they’ve been shown to yield something less than the best wine possible.
The result here is Champagnes that are precise in their expression of fruit and soil, where autolysis quietly embellishes without dominating, and where – once you’ve shaken off the distraction of sheer pleasure and try to pick apart the elements – you find seamless harmony and elegant structure. These delicious and utterly confident wines are borne of intricately thought out practices, strictly adhered to. The wines – a million miles from any notion of stretched or contrived Champagne - are as natural, effortless and full of personality as you could wish them to be.