Jacquesson lunch(es) in Champagne and London
I had lunch twice with Jean-Herve Chiquet, one half of the fraternal owners of the champagne house of Jacquesson (founded in 1798), along with his fabulous champagnes in the space of 2 weeks. I know, it’s tough but someone has to do it.
My first encounter with Jean-Herve, at the winery was rather disheveled, as somebody had forgotten to tell him that we ( meaning the CIVC and us) were coming for a visit, but Jean-Herve recovered magnificently. He amiably lead us through a tour of his winery followed by lunch with the chateau staff. At lunch, Jean-Herve popped open bottles like soda pop, numerous bottles of the Jacquesson 734 and Jacquesson 735 being opened and passed around the lunch table. The perks of working in Champagne is, well, I guess, champagne with your workaday lunch! You may wonder why the wines go by a number instead of a name. The answer is simple, it was the number of the lot in their daily reports.
Even though it was the last day of the harvest and I’m sure he had plenty of work to do, he kindly led us through a tasting of his single vineyard 2002’s – the Dizy and the Avize after lunch.
The Dizy and Avize are special because although they are single vintage, they didn’t start out that way. Originally, they only wanted to make great wines but when they tasted the terroir of the wines, they knew that they were onto winners. Both are 100% chardonnnay but due to the terroir very different in temprament and character. The Dizy coming from premier cru vines and the Avize, grand cru.
At the winery, I preferred the 2002 Dizy, Corne Bautray, Blanc de blanc, tasting of a mouthful of rocks (in the best possible way), very precise with a sharp attack and finish, the middle being quite sweet and fruity. I could almost taste the seashell bed of Champagne, finishing off with some candied nutty notes.
The 2002 Avize Champ Cain, Blanc de blanc on the other hand had a saline character to it, full of minerals and chalk, the nose opening up quite well but less of the fruit then the Dizy.
What was surprising to me was how the wines changed at the next lunch which was at Pollen St. Social in London a week and a half later. This time, the Dizy had seemed to calm down on the minerality and the nutty, almost hazelnutty quality seemed to overtake the fruit. It was still a very precise champagne but seemed a bit softer. The Avize still had that salty quality but the nose had more sweet fruit and the finish now had some toffee going on. Jean-Herve said it might have something to do with the travel from France to England – who knows, the mystery of champagne.
To finish off our lunch at Pollen Street we had a magnum of the Avize 1995. Only 400 produced and disgorged in July 2010, Jean-Herve thinks this is the best of the 90’s for chardonnay. The late disgorgement meaning that the wine is still a bright yellow in colour with very fine bubbles. He calls it a faultless wine, a beautiful summery nose, very fresh and subtle. I found a fantastic purity and focus in the wine, the minerality still a big part of this wine but the fruit as well blending harmoniously.
The Jacquesson Dizy and Avize 2002 vintages are only available on trade at Pollen St. Social in London. They liked both so much that they bought as much as they could for the restaurant.
A big thanks to Fields, Morris & Verdin for inviting me to lunch, to Pollen St. Social for being such genial hosts and to the CIVC for introducing me to Jean-Herve and his winery in Champagne. A bientot!