Cuisles is a small village. And when I write small here, I mean small. Very small. Cuisles is a community in the Champagne with about 150 souls. The perfect place for a crime thriller with a limited number of potential perpetrators. In fact, the small village, 30 km southwest of Reims, specialises in the cultivation of vines.
For the first time in 2017, I moved to Cuisles in the Marne Valley. On the recommendation of Dominik Betschart – thank you! When asked which champagne winery I should definitely have a look at, he recommended me a winegrower from the small tranquil village. So after my visit to Champagne Taittinger I set off.
On the way to Cedric, from Vigneron Moussé Fils.
Since then I was several times on the spot, was allowed to enjoy his enormous hospitality and taste his fine champagnes. The last times in the “old” vinotheque that is currently being redesigned.
Cedric is a fourth generation champagne winemaker and today he holds the reins when it comes to managing the estate. It was founded in 1923 by Eugene Moussé, and it must be said that it was in this year that the champagne winery itself was founded.
The family, whose history goes back to 1650, produced still wine long before that. In 1923, however, the focus was finally on the queen of sparkling wines.
Why? Originally the family cultivated their vineyards around Cuisles and sold the grapes to the big houses. Equipped with a vision and the will to create something of their own, Eugene’s plans changed. In 1923, the first bottle of champagne, bottled in-house, was born at Moussé Fils. Today we thank Eugene for this step, which was courageous, full of risk, but an important one. Every year Cedric fills the bottle with the “L’Or D’Eugene”, the “Gold of Eugene”. A tribute to the founder of the house. The “Gold of Eugene” is also the house’s flagship, reflecting the style, philosophy and terroir of Moussé champagnes.
Unfortunately, the Moussés were not spared the atrocities of the Nazis. During the Second World War, Champagne was one of the hardest hit regions in France. In many houses, the “library” with older volumes can only be traced back to 1943, since the previously produced volumes were often plundered and then sent to the rulers as a status symbol and to the front as a perseverance and conquest present.
Tragically, Eugene was deported to a concentration camp as a result of the siege of the Champagne, from which he unfortunately did not return. Eugene’s wife Suzanne, who was also imprisoned in the concentration camp but returned home in 1943, continued to run the business for several years until Cedric’s grandfather Edmond took over and set new standards in production and quality.
In the hot year of 2003, Cedric joined the company to support his father Jean-Marc, who had been bringing fermented grape juice to the bottle since 1976. His father Jean-Marc gave him an understanding of the bond with nature, the terroir and the vine. He upholds his father’s legacy and does everything he can to continue it.
Just as Jean-Marc gave it to his son Cedric and taught it to him, the Moussé business is very close to nature and Cedric works hand in hand with that given by nature.
This begins with the bio-dynamic cultivation of his vineyards and continues in the style of his wines. These vineyards are divided into four municipalities, but are located on a single hill. The wines reflect the vines and the terroir in Cuisles and are very puristic and clear. Sustainability also plays a central role. Already during my first visit Cedric showed me different “blanks” of his bottles, unfilled and new. Why? He doesn’t use a standard bottle, but a lighter one. In this way, CO2 can be reduced during the transport of his champagne. A very innovative, good idea that of course only comes into full swing when many producers join in.
The fact that topics such as cooling, irrigation, light and energy are completely based on natural resources does not need to be mentioned here.
And the wines?
In Champagne, three sub-regions are predestined for different grape varieties. Pinot noir thrives best in the Montagne de Reims, white Chardonnay in the Côte de Blancs. Cuisles lies in the Vallée de la Marne. The Marne Valley is home to the “third” grape variety, often considered the least important – Meunier. The dark grape covers even meadows in the Champagne.
And the wines?
In Champagne, three sub-regions are predestined for different grape varieties. Pinot Noir thrives best in the Montagne de Reims, the white grape of Chardonnay in the Côte de Blancs. Cuisles lies in the Vallée de la Marne. The Marne Valley is home to the “third” grape variety, often considered the least important – Meunier. In Champagne, the dark grape covers even more vineyards than Chardonnay. It is often bottled as pure Champagne or as Cuveé with Pinot Noir.
Cedric, who has his vines in the Marne Valley, the Vallée de la Marne, has given himself completely to the Meunier. By the way: Meunier is also available in Germany under the name Schwarzriesling.
In the last 1.5 years I have been able to get to know and appreciate the Meunier better and better. As described, the dark grape is considered to be the most inferior in quality. But I wouldn’t sign that, as a number of winegrowers bring great champagne to the bottle. One of the main reasons for criticizing the grape is its ripening potential, which is considered clearly worse than Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. In the exchange with winegrowers I could not verify this statement as generally correct. It is clear that the wines of the Meunier are accessible early and live from their freshness and fruit. But I was also allowed to taste 100% Meuniers, which had 20 years on the hump and still stood well in the glass.
From Cedric and Moussé Fils I know the wines of the last 2, 3 years quite well and from tasting to tasting I am more convinced of what he does. And that’s quite independent of the fact that Cedric is a super smart, charming and likeable guy, whom you buy exactly what he represents.
The champagne from Moussé Fils is clear and clean, precise and shiny without much frills and Chi-Chi. Just like Cedric is on it and comes over. Real and authentic. Champagnes are so close to nature and reduced to the essentials that they are usually equipped with the lowest possible and necessary dosage.
Personally, I like the wines with the lowest dosage best. No wonder, they show the winegrower’s handwriting and the fingerprint of the grape.
And he follows this clear line through the entire collection. L’Or D’Eugene marks the entrance and immediately shows the direction. At 6g/L, it leveled as Brut and is the entry into the world of Moussé Fils wines. Convinced of the “Gold of Eugene” I packed a box during my last visit to Champagne and presented the champagne at the sparkling wine special for SOMM vs. BLOGGER at the Steigenberger Grandhotel Petersberg. How he arrived? One of the clear winners of the evening, several orders included afterwards.
With the Anecdote, 100% Chardonnay of the individual vineyard Les Varosses, Cedric shows that he can also Blanc de Blanc – yeast, brioche, crunchy apple and lots of excitement. Intense and powerful, but never overdone.
One of my favourites is Les Vignes de mon village – “the location of my village”. As the name suggests, the grapes of this champagne come entirely from the vineyards of Cuisles, 100% Pinot Meunier. And: No dosage, so Brut Nature. And that’s how pure it is. Lots of fruit, ripe fruit and the special Terroir Cuisles’ worked out. Four different soil types, including the unique green clay – the champagne Terre d’Illite is named after it – conjure up an impressive champagne on the bottle. Irritating play of fruit and acid, some lime and an animating freshness.
The two Special Clubs – as a member of the Club Tresors de Champagne compulsory programme – as Blanc and Rosé mark the top of the collection. With around 60 months on the yeast, the Blanc shows itself with tarte, a little butter and ripe stone fruit, a lot of tension and strength on the palate, yet elegant and full of finesse.
The Rosé, 100% Meunier with only 2g/L Dosage is very special. This starts with the enormously rich, dense colour and continues in the nose and palate. Many levels, yeast and fruit, both red berries and drupe, precision and enormous pressure. Fine fruit and a very pleasant acidity meet on the tongue, some salt is also to be tasted. The whole is with authority around the palate and impresses. Very long, concentrated finish – great substance.
On it a Meunier, Santé!