The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary of Champagne Famille Moussé (formerly known as Moussé Fils). Throughout this significant year, Famille Moussé celebrated the milestone with a series of exclusive dinners named "1 Mois, 1 Chef." Each month featured a unique dinner where acclaimed chefs from around the world were invited to craft a menu complementing Moussé's meunier-focused range. These dinners took place in the family's residence and were attended by a select group of guests.
I had the privilege of attending the June Dinner, featuring Chef Philippe Mille from the 2-Michelin-starred, Domaine Les Crayères in Reims. The evening was truly exceptional, and I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Cedric and his fantastic team for the gracious invitation. It was an unforgettable experience!
In honor of their 100 years, and this magnificent dinner, here is more about the producer in Cuiles who put Meunier on the map!
History of Famille Moussé
Eugene Moussé made his first vinification in 1923, in the beginning of the 20th century, right after WW1. It wasn’t out of desire or curiosity that Eugene began making wine, but more out of survival, as the war brought a crisis to the industry. At the time, Moussé sold their grapes to the merchants, and since the merchants were not selling champagne, they weren't buying grapes from the vigneron. So Eugene found some barrels and a press, and taught himself how to make champagne.
In 1926, he had around 1500 bottles of his champagne in his cellar, and ready to sell. The only issue was, there were only 70 residents in his village of Cuiles, so there were very few potential customers. The other issue was, he didn't have a car (nor did anyone in the village), so he couldn't drive to neighboring villages marketing his champagne.
But soon enough, there was hope. 300 kilometers from Cuiles (just over 185 miles), Eugene’s friend, Evrard Thomas had just purchased a Citroen B14, and so Eugene asked Evrard to drive him to Paris to find clients for his champagne. Evrard agreed, and they headed to Paris with two wooden cases and twenty-five bottles of champagne.
When there, they met an American who had just opened a catering company in Paris, and he became Moussé's first customer. For several years, the catering company was a great client. Eugene would drop off his 25 bottles to the Port-à-Binson station, not too far from Cuiles, using a black horse named Mona.
But, the security of this steady income came to a complete halt during the WWII. Eugene and Edmond (his son), were a part of the benevolent resistance network called Possum in WWII. Their goal was to protect the English and American pilots who had crashed between London and Germany, and bring them back to London.
Sadly, at the end of the war, only Edmond came back, completely emaciated, 77 lbs, and defeated. After a long recovery, he slowly made is way back into winemaking, focusing in the cellar, rather than the vineyard. He had a true passion and skill for winemaking and trained many winemakers in the area during his time.
In 1976, Jean-Marc Moussé settled down in the estate and was very focused on the vineyards, while Edmond continued to make the wine. Jean-Marc redeveloped the business until 2003, when Cedric joined and they developed it together.
Cedric Moussé, head of the domaine, has made an incredible impact on the way the grape, Meunier, plays a role in champagne, and how it can be so easily celebrated when passion, skill, and terroir come together in the most perfect way.
photos above from our Group Trip in June 2023 to Champagne
The fruit from Cuiles displays a heightened vibrancy compared to Meunier from other areas of the Vallee de la Marne. This imparts a distinctive fresh and mineral character to a Champagne often known for its rounded and fruity qualities. However, within the Moussé range, there is also a discernible tenderness and delicacy. The unique green clay soil, integral to Cedric's wines, serves as a crucial element in their profile. Cedric has sought top geological advice to shape his vineyard strategy around this distinctive soil. The magic of the green clay is evident in the delightful texture of Cedric’s wines, each possessing its own personality, yet unified by this common thread.
Cedric's achievement in crafting high-quality Meunier-driven champagne is largely attributed to his commitment to sustainable practices throughout his domain, from the vines to the winery. Embracing biodiversity, he introduces animals and wildlife into the vineyards, creating a farm with chickens, pigs, and sheep.. Using a self-burned raw form of sulfur to maintain low levels, he prioritizes environmentally friendly practices. The winery, constructed in 2010, ensures self-sufficiency in electricity through solar panels. A well provides 70% of their water needs, with any wastewater distributed in fields and compost. In winemaking, Cedric aims to reflect the soil, opting for stainless steel and malolactic fermentation.
Above all, Cedric's relentless pursuit of excellence is evident in his continuous questioning. His pioneering spirit, innate optimism, passion for his craft, pride in his family's history and village, and remarkable intelligence are palpable when interacting with him. He embraces collaboration, willingly sharing ideas and practices with others, recognizing that a collective commitment to shared knowledge and quality enhances the entire region.
Coinciding with the 100 year anniversary, Famille Moussé has done a little rebranding, and has completely changed their labels, as well as some of their range. Their new labels, more modern in style, are meant to give the consumer a more in depth understanding of the house, style, and details of the cuvée. You will find 3 different symbols on the labels, one that will tell the story of their history, a symbol about the terroir or the winemaking, and a symbol suggesting a food pairing. To bring this to life, there is a small REID chip hidden behind the label, and when you bring your smartphone close to the label, a video will launch and tell the story.
One Mois, One Chef
This specific dinner held a special charm for me. Having enjoyed Cedric's wines on multiple occasions and making it a point to dine at Domaine Les Crayeres whenever I visit Champagne, combining the two experiences was truly mind-blowing.
About Philippe Mille
With experience in the kitchens of Bordier, Grondart, Anton, and Roth, and having served as Yannick Alléno's key collaborator at Le Scribe and subsequently Le Meurice, he successfully earned the first Michelin star for Domaine Les Crayères in 2011, followed by a second in 2012. Philippe Mille, drawing inspiration from both the seasons and the Champagne region, is the creative force behind the menus at the two distinguished restaurants: Le Parc ** and Le Jardin.
June is strawberry season in Champagne, and so our dessert of the evening featured strawberries from Fraises et Compagnie, a family farm located in Voipreux. This was the best dessert of my entire trip in Champagne, the perfect marriage between a talented chef, and top quality produce.
The menu for the evening, along with photos are below. I know the year is drawing to an end, but if you get the chance, I highly encourage you to grab any of the wines below, and toast to Famille Moussé, 100 years of history and innovation, and to really delicious Meunier!
TOMATES DE PLEINE TERRE
Les Vignes de mon Village
ASPERGES BLANCHES DE CHAMPAGNE
Les Terres d’Illite, 2019
HOMARD GRILLÉ AU BRASERO
Eugéne Longue Garde
ST PIERRE À LA VAPEUR D’ARGUMES
FILET DE VEAU À LA FICELLE
Les Fortes Terres, 2018
MILLEFEUILLE DE TOMME DES ARDENNES
TARTE AUX FRAISES EN CHAUD FROID
La Recette d’Edmond