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Jacquesson, a champagne house that goes against the current

Jacquesson is a champagne house that is different. They don’t do like most others. Instead of making a “house style” with a consistent character year after year and a “cuvée prestige” they make champagnes that underline the vintage variations and special bottlings from small vineyard plots. The house is run by the Chiquet brothers, Jean-Hervé and Laurent. BKWine’s reporter Roland Eriksson met Jean-Hervé when he was on a short visit to Stockholm.

Jacquesson is a not one of the most famous a champagne houses but it has a very good reputation. It is considered one of the 6-8 best. The firm was founded in 1798 and has had a lot of different owners over the years. In 1974 it was bought by Jean Chiquet and is now run by his sons, Jean-Hervé and Laurent Chiquet. A while ago Jean-Hervé visited Stockholm to present some news for us.

Champagne Jacquesson's Jean-Herve Chiquet

Champagne Jacquesson’s Jean-Herve Chiquet, copyright R Eriksson

Since the brothers took over the company more than 20 years ago there have been a lot of changes. They own 11 hectares of vineyards in the Côte des Blancs (Avize and Oiry) and 17 ha in the Vallée de la Marne (Aÿ, Epernay and Hautvillers). They use grapes only from grand cru and premier cru villages. In the 1980s, the company produced about 470,000 bottles a year, but then they bought large quantities of grapes. Now they buy only an additional 8 ha of grapes from contracted growers compared to formerly almost double that. This, combined with lower yields has led to a cut in production to today’s 220,000 to 280,000 bottles per year in order to maintain the quality high.

All wines ferment in large old oak casks. They use a minimal dosage, 1.5 g to 2.5 g / l. The wines are kept at least 4 years on lees for the 700 series and fully nine years on the lees for vintage wines. The house style is dry, fresh and mineral.

Most of the champagne houses make a “standard cuvée” which is blended to taste the same from year to year. Then they also have a vintage champagne and a prestige cuvée. Jacquesson has a different reasoning today. In the 2000s Jacquesson introduced their 700-series instead of doing a “standard cuvée”. First out was the Cuvée 728 where the basic wine was from 2000 with about 30% reserve wine. This means that the wine will vary from year to year. (It also means that it is not a “true” vintage wine.) When they launch new version of the 700 series it will always be made with a base wine from a single vintage but it will also be with a blend of the three grapes pinot noir, pinot menuier and chardonnay that will differ from year to year.

Another unusual thing is that in 2002 they stopped doing a regular vintage wine. Instead they make four wines with vineyard designation, “lieu-dits”, three white and one rosé, with a vintage indication. (Note: Beginning in 2012 it is produced as white.) These come from the company’s best vineyards but only from the best years, which means that it is not certain that all four are released in the same years. The vineyard designated wines are produced in fairly small quantities.

In order to offer the consumer an intermediate product at a price between the cuvée 700 and the considerably more expensive vineyard designated wines they also have a third variant, dégorgement tardif or “DT”, which is late degorged wines from the 700 series with at least 9 years at the lees.

Before we go through the wines I must add one thing that I think is very important. Jean-Hervé says: “We have no anecdotes or history on labels! Here we clearly note the grape composition, the base year, share of reserve wine, the villages, dosage and degorging date, and for the vineyard designate wines even the number of bottles.” Imagine if all producers would be so informative.

And now, to the wines that were enjoyed with a tartare of oysters and scallops and a steamed cod. Delicious!

Jacquesson Cuvée 737

Base year 2009, and 30% reserve wines. 43% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir and 30% Pinot Meunier.

Light yellow colour, medium nose with hints of yellow apple, citrus, mineral, slightly smoky. The taste is quite full-bodied, dry, fresh, with citrus, mineral and apple, good length. Tasted from magnum. A 75 cl bottle is probably more developed.

Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee 735

Champagne Jacquesson Cuvee 735, copyright Ulf Bengtsson

Jacquesson Cuvée 738

Base year 2010, and 33% reserve wines. 61% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Noir and 21% Pinot Meunier. 2.5 g/l dosage.

Pale yellow colour, young and closed bouquet with hints of citrus and yellow apple. The palate is medium bodied, fresh, dry, and relatively young, toast and high acidity. Degorged in April 2014, and should, according to Jean-Hervé be cellared for at least a few more months. Replaces Cuvée 737 eventually.

Jacquesson Cuvée 733 Degorgement Tardif (DT)

Base year 2005, and 22% reserve wines, of which 16% from 2004 and 6% 2001. 52% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier. 2.5 g/l dosage.

Light golden colour. Big nose with old yellow apples, maturity tones, smokiness, brioche and minerals. The taste is quite full-bodied, astringent, dry, with toastiness, minerals and tones of maturity, length. Perfect to drink now.

Champagne Jacquesson Corne Bautray & Champ Cain

Champagne Jacquesson Corne Bautray & Champ Cain, copyright R Eriksson

Jacquesson Dizy Corne Bautray 2004

Blanc de Blancs, 100% chardonnay. 1.5 g/l dosage.

Light yellow colour. Big, somewhat flowery and spicy aroma, with hints of grapefruit, green apple, minerals and a little barrel character. The taste is quite full-bodied, dry, powerful, with green apple, grapefruit, minerals, fairly high acidity and barrel notes, good length.

Champagne Jacquesson, Dizy Corne Bautray

Champagne Jacquesson, Dizy Corne Bautray, copyright R Eriksson

Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain 2004

Blanc de Blancs, 100% chardonnay. 1.5 g/l dosage.

Light yellow colour. Medium-big, lightly floral fragrance with citrus, green apple, mineral, relatively full-bodied. Dry and austere flavour, with hints of citrus, green apple and minerals, high acidity and good length.

Champagne Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain

Champagne Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain, copyright R Eriksson

Jacquesson Aÿ Vauzelle Terme 2004

Blanc de noirs, 100% Pinot Noir. No dosage.

Golden yellow colour, medium nose, with notes of red and yellow apples, tropical fruit and brioche, the taste is full-bodied, dry and chewy, with notes of red apple, tropical fruit and minerals with balanced acidity, long.

Champagne Jacquesson Ay Vauzelle Terme

Champagne Jacquesson Ay Vauzelle Terme, copyright R Eriksson

Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.

Jacquesson is one of the quality producers that we sometimes have on the program on our wine tours to Champagne. To taste the wines at the home of producer together with the winemaker is a unique experience that you can get on a wine tour to Champagne with BKWine.

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Oak vats in the cellar, Champagne Jacquesson

Oak vats in the cellar, Champagne Jacquesson, copyright BKWine Photography

Demi muid barrels and batonnage tool, Champagne Jacquesson

Demi muid barrels and batonnage tool, Champagne Jacquesson, copyright BKWine Photography

Champenoise marker stone

Champenoise marker stone, copyright BKWine Photography

Detail of a champagne press, "la cuvee"

Detail of a champagne press, “la cuvee”, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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