It’s the ties that bind. The ties that bind the present to the past. The ties that bind the roots to the earth. The ties that bind the vines to the sky and the ties that bind men to the land allowing them to follow their dreams and their convictions. It is also a constant quest, year on year, to seek to reveal the full expression of their terroirs, to make the best wine that each vintage allows.
A rendez-vous with two men, brothers,
who for twenty five years have quietly
been pushing the boundaries
1 - WHERE ARE YOUR VINES?
Our land holdings are in two main areas, the Grande Vallée de la Marne and in the Côte des Blancs. In the Grande Vallée de la Marne we have vines in Aÿ, a Grand Cru, and Dizy and Hautvillers both Premiers Crus; the vineyards are mostly sloping, facing east, south or south-west where the chalk lies at varying depths below the soil. We also have holdings in two Grand Crus in the Côte des Blancs, Avize and Oiry; there our parcels face due south, with chalk showing on the surface.
2 - SO, JACQUESSON’S WINES ALL COME FROM THESE VINEYARDS?
Not quite. We still buy some grapes but, with the Domaine providing 80% of our needs, our purchases are limited. However, our suppliers are all neighbours in the same Crus which allows us to control the husbandry of the vines whose production we are buying and, most importantly, to deliver the grapes to our presses.
" ...terroir, even great terroir,
is worth nothing unless
properly looked after. "
3 - YOU SPEAK OF GRANDS CRUS AND PREMIERS CRUS; IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Very. The quality of the wines is directly linked to the provenance of the grapes; however, terroir, even great terroir, is worth nothing unless properly looked after. Our vineyard workers are the most important members of our team. Nothing would be possible without the involvement of Bertrand, Raynald, Rémi and Alexandre in Avize and Sylvain, Didier, Christophe, Eric, Laurent and Jérome in Dizy.
4 - HOW DOES ONE DEFINE TERROIR?
There is no doubt that it is easier to uncover the essence of terroir in the glass than it is to give a scientific explanation because terroir has a direct influence on the character of a wine. Perhaps an explanation could be that it is a site which infl uences the wine that is produced from it through the composition of its soil and sub-soil, together with the climate that governs it. The distinctive characteristic of the great terroirs of Champagne is linked to the thick pedestal of campanian chalk, up to hundreds of metres thick, on which our topsoil sits and to our semi-continental climate, yet where the average temperature is only 10 degrees centigrade.
5 - YOU TALK OF TERROIR AND CLIMATE. SURELY HOW YOU HUSBAND YOUR VINES PLAYS A VITAL ROLE?
Indeed. We use traditional growing techniques with litt le or no soil enrichment, the soil is ploughed or sewn to grass, we short prune, most treatments are organic…. Above all, we seek to hold back the vigour of our vines in order to allow them to reveal the diversity of the parcels of land on which they are growing and to show the influence of the minerals in the soil on the fruit.
" ...reveal the diversity of the parcels
of land on which they are growing
and to show the influence of the minerals
in the soil on the fruit. "
13 - WHAT IS THE CUVÉE 700 AND WHY THE ODD NAME?
Our Cuvée 700 is the only blended wine we produce; it is meant to be the expression of a year and thus each year offers a different identity which we recognise by numbering the cuvée.
" Our Cuvée 700 is the only
blended wine we produce;
it is meant to be the expression
of a year... "
14 - HOW DO THE CUVÉES 700 DIFFER FROM THE “NON-VINTAGE” CHAMPAGNES THAT ONE SEES EVERYWHERE?
The Cuvée 700 concept is unique in Champagne and is the opposite of a non-vintage wine! We seek excellence rather than homogeneity, respect for the character of the vintage rather than its denial, and the preference to strive to produce a great wine rather than maintain a “house style”. The addition of reserve wines is designed to reinforce the complexity of the wine without hiding the character of the base year. Once we had set out on this path, it quickly became apparent to us that we could not also make a blended vintage wine because this could only harm the quality and purity of the Cuvée 700.
17 - TWO DIFFERENT STAGES?
Indeed. During the early years of its life, the secondary fermentation in bottles of champagne allows them to develop their effervescence at the same time benefitting from a slow maturing on the lees; with Cuvée 700, this means over a period of four years. If you then allow the period of ageing and maturing to go beyond these first three or four years, the wines develop tertiary aromas allied with the freshness conserved by ageing in an environment where there is only the very slightest oxidisation; thus you have Cuvée 700 Dégorgement Tardif (Late Disgorged), aged for nine years before release.
18 - ARE THERE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN A CUVÉE 700 AND THE SAME WINE AS A D.T. WHEN YOU TASTE THEM?
Sure, since they are the same wine. However, they will have aged under completely different conditions and, on tasting, the wines will be very diff erent. The Cuvée 700 disgorgement takes place between three and a half and four and a half years after the harvest of the base vintage, while the disgorgement of the Cuvée 700 D.T. will have taken place four years later; thus we have approximately doubled the time of ageing on the lees and delayed the oxiditative shock of disgorgement by the same amount. In the glass the Cuvée 700 D.T. is superior: the wine has matured a lot but evolved very little, it has gained complexity without ageing in any other way.
" ...Cuvée 700 D.T.
aged for nine years
before release.... "
21 - ARE THE SINGLE VINEYARD WINES HANDLED ANY DIFFERENTLY TO THE CUVÉE 700?
Not at all. From vine to bottle, the process is exactly the same. The Single Vineyards are not treated any bett er than the Cuvée 700 or, perhaps we should say, the Cuvée 700 is not worse treated than the Single Vineyards.
22 - IT MUST BE FASCINATING TO TASTE THE FOUR SINGLE VINEYARDS FROM ONE VINTAGE IN PARALLEL.
It’s more than interesting! It’s one of the only opportunities available in Champagne to compare so precisely wines from different terroirs as they mature, the precision of one, the voluptuousness of another, the minerality of a third, the power of the last.
Some people say that
the Jacquesson style is nothing
more than the taste of the Chiquet brothers.
And they wouldn’t be wrong!