Domaine JM Sélèque
One of Champagne’s most exciting and dynamic young producers, Jean-Marc Sélèque is based in Pierry in the Coteaux Sud d’Epernay…. As his viticultural progress bears dividends, these wines go from strength to strength and I find myself more and more impressed with every passing release. Pierry enjoyed considerable historical celebrity, and thanks to Sélèque, it seems more than likely to regain it.
–William Kelley, The Wine Advocate, September 2021
Jean-Marc Sélèque (say-lek) returned to Pierry in 2008 after internships at Chandon’s facilities in Napa Valley and in Australia’s Yarra Valley with a vision of what he wanted to do, and didn’t want to do at Champagne JM Sélèque. The latter was reinforced by his experiences at those two large production operations, where vineyard practices resulted in all manner of “corrections” having to be made in the cellar. The positive ideas were simple, but labor intensive: in the vines, shallow plowing of rows by horse or tractor for weed control; reducing yields by careful pruning; organic and biodynamic applications to boost the health of soil and vine.
In the cellar, he moved to much slower and more gentle fermentations, something he considers key for flavor and texture. He did this by lowering the temperature and working more with wild yeast. Initially, many but not all of his ferments were wild, and he wasn’t orthodox about that. By 2018, however, he had isolated one strain of yeast from one of his wild ferments, and these days before each harvest he makes a pied de cuve over a seven day period. He instituted longer ageing on the lees for all the cuvées, both in barrel or tank and subsequently in bottle for the secondary fermentation (that bottling is now done at the end of July following the harvest, which is a long and relaxed élevage, allowing a young wine to come together). Early on, he stopped his father’s systematic introduction of malolactic fermentation, letting the wine decide, but now the bacteria is well present in his cellar and the ML happens naturally to all the wines. He did away with fining, and worked up to completely doing away with filtration in 2015, when his new cellar gave him the measure of control he needed. That same year he introduced a high-tech press with temperature control; in 2017, he outfitted his harvest truck with temperature control; and in 2021, with climate change on the rise, he added temperature controls to his tanks in the underground cellar. Finally, because his farming reforms resulted in better maturity in his grapes, he lowered the level of sugar in the final dosage. Dosage and other specifics are spelled out on his back labels.