Champagne Hugues Godme Rose Brut Grand Cru
ripe cherry, plum, strawberry, raspberry, mushroom, apple, pear, peach, apricot, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, kiwi, butter, cream and vanilla
barnyard, cherry, plum, game, tomato, apple, pear, peach, apricot, lemon, lime, orange, pineapple, kiwi, butter, cream and vanilla
The Godmés have been vignerons in Verzenay since the 19th century. Joseph Godmé, Hugues’ grandfather, began bottling just after WWII and was soon bottling the totality of his production (a rarity at that time for a small grower and a great testament to the quality of the wines.) Hugues’ father followed in Joseph’s footsteps and never had to sell a single kilo of grapes. There were vignerons on Hugue’s wife’s side too, in Villedommange. The first bottles were sold there in the thirties.
Hugues was born in 1958. He got his first vineyard, 1¼ acres, from his grandfather in 1976 while he was still a student at the lycée viticole.
The consecration of Hugues Godmé is imminent. If it hasn’t yet happened, it is because up to now Hugues and his sister Sabine have jointly been running the estate, but unfortunately, they have very different ideas about Champagne. Sabine prefers a more traditional approach, with higher dosages, shiny aureate labels and the like. Consequently, the domaine has remained as the French beautifully put it le cul entre deux chaises, its ass between two chairs. And while the viticulture has been impeccable at Godmé for quite some time, it is only Hugues’ three single vineyards and his Extra Brut Grand Cru that are everything one wants from the nouvelle vague. Though excellent, the other cuvées have until recently been trapped in a bit of a halfway house, neither traditional nor modern. In effect, one has two styles under the same roof, and this has made the domaine a little hard to market. Their differences are so irreconcilable that Hugues and his sister Sabine have decided to split the up the family domain. As of this year, Hugues is free to produce non-vintage wines as inspired and cutting edge as his prestige cuvées are.
That said, even if he had been free to make wine the way he wanted to, success would have still come to Hugues slowly. For a maker of hipster champagne, he is unusually void of chest-thumping or social media savvy. If one phrase could have been coined with him Hugues mind, it would be “character is doing the right thing when no one is watching.”
In his small three-story winery that looks somewhat like an abandoned industrial building that would make a perfect setting for a movie about a gang of rebel winemakers in a dystopian future, Hugues has done all his great work quietly, in isolation. Only recently has he started to hang out with fellow nouvelle vague producers Benoit Lahaye and Vincent Laval. With Lahaye’s sponsorship, Hugues has applied to become part of Terre et Vins de Champagne, a group of like-minded producers that includes, among others, Agrapart, Bereche, Boulard, Chartogne-Taillet, Marie Courtin, Horiot, Laval, Lahaye, Leclapart, Marie Noelle Ledru, and Tarlant. That’s a hell of a gang, and Godmé belongs among them.
How much reserve wine for non-vintage cuvee is a clue to the high quality of the Champagne. The percentage of reserve wines in the non-vintage cuvées varies between 40 to 70%, with final assemblages that can include up to 6 vintages (including the base wine). Peter Liem writes that this is a “remarkably high percentage” in non-vintage champagnes and that this gives Hugues’ wines “an added depth and complexity.”
The Godmés own 80 parcels, totaling a little more than 11 hectares, and located over 5 communes: the three grand crus of Verzenay, Verzy and Beaumont sur Vesle, and the two premier crus of Villers Marmery and Villedommange. The first four communes neighbor each other, while Villedommange is 30 minutes west. The encépagement is 55% chardonnay (in Villers-Marmery and Verzy), 35% pinot noir (in Verzenay and Beaumont sur Vesle), and 15% pinot Meunier (in Villedommange). After the split, Hugues will have 7.6 hectares (more than half the domaine’s current size because he has vines from his wife.) There will be a somewhat lesser proportion of Chardonnay.
VERZY, GRAND CRU: is planted 80% to pinot noir and only 20% to chardonnay. Richard Juhlin: “The terroir of Verzy is made up belemnite chalk and two varieties of micraster chalk. Verzy’s plantations form an extension of the famous vineyards at Verzenay on the northern slopes of the Montagne de Reims (…) Oddly enough, Verzy was formerly a Chardonnay village.”
Vizetelly, in 1882, writes that the vineyards of Verzy “are almost exclusively planted with white grapes, the only instance of the kind to be met with in the district.” Godmé has a lot of chardonnay in Verzy, including a parcel called called les Bussets which plays an important part in several of his cuvées.