The champagne house of Jacquesson has a distinguished history. Adolphe Jacquesson, the son of founder Memmie Jacquesson, was the inventor of the muselet - the wire cage that adorns every bottle of sparkling wine to this day. Napoleon was a great admirer of Jacquesson champagne and is said to have served it on his wedding day in 1810. Today, in the competent hands of brothers Jean-Herve and Laurent Chiquet, Jacquesson is one of the most respected houses in Champagne. Their non-vintage wines do not adhere to a house style from year to year, but are all vintage-based. Their vintage wines are unique in that each one is site-specific, with a focus on individual ‘monocrus’ or single vineyards.
58 Rue du Colonel Fabien, Dizy. +33 3 26 55 68 11
Richard Juhlin is one of many fans of the Jacquesson house. He calls the non-vintage “brilliant”, and says that the prestige cuvees “are now among the best every year.” With the Chiquet brothers so focused on quality at every stage of production, we think you will agree.
Jacquesson 700 Series
The only blended cuvee produced by the house. Each year a new cuvee is made, and released under a following number. It comes from the three Grands Cru and two Premiers Cru vineyards, using only the first pressing. Vinified in oak casks, it is nearly always unfiltered. The house holds a portion back for release as a DT, to show the wine at two stages of maturity. The exact percentages of grape varieties and reserve wines vary each year, but each cuvee is meant to achieve excellence in the expression of the base year.
Jacquesson Avize Grand Cru
The grapes are sourced from the three lieux-dits of La Fosse, Nemery and Champ Cain.
Jacquesson Avize Champ Cain
The little Champ Cain vineyard has 40-year-old vines planted in chalky, clay soils that produce complex, mineral wines. The vineyard is 1.35 hectares and the yields are quite high, so approximately 5,500 bottles are produced a year.
Jacquesson Dizy Corne Bautray
100% Chardonnay. In 1995, the Chardonnay harvest from Corne Bautray, a one hectare vineyard, particularly impressed the Chiquet brothers, and they made an experimental cuvee from it (2000 was the first commercial release). The vines, planted in 1960, face southwest, and grow in relatively thick alluvial topsoil. This soil is a layer of loose clay silt packed with pebbles overtop the ever-present chalk. The wine is remarkable for its elegant power. Approximately 4,500 bottles are produced in a given vintage.
Jacquesson Ay Vauzelle Terme
100% Pinot Noir. The 1996 vintage favoured Pinot Noir, and the tiny 0.3ha parcel in the Vauzelle Terme lieu-dit stood out for the Chiquets. The vines were planted in 1980 and grow in the middle of a south-facing slope, in limestone soils mixed with some clay, on a chalk bedrock. The 2002 vintage was the first release of this blanc de noirs. The production is so small that in some years the entire crop of grapes doesn’t fill the press! Only about 2,500 bottles are made in a single vintage.
Jacquesson Dizy Terres Rouges Rose
After the 1997 vintage, Jacquesson discontinued making blended roses and moved to a saignee style of rose from a specific site, which better suited their philosophical stance. The Dizy site for the Terres Rouges is a broad bench with limestone-based red soil, on top of chalky silts. The Chiquets farm nearly 6 hectares here, but use only 1.3 hectares for this wine.
It is no surprise that current owners the Chiquet brothers, Jean-Herve and Laurent, are so enthusiastic about making exceptional wines. After all, the house of Jacquesson was founded on passion. It was 1798, and Napoleon was a rising power in France. As he travelled to various conquests, he would make sure to stop in Chalons-sur-Marne, to the house of Memmie Jacquesson, to stock up with wine for battle. His patronage no doubt helped increase the wine’s popularity, but the success of the house was ultimately due to the inventive mind of Memmie’s son, Adolphe Jacquesson.
Every time we open a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine today, we are using a creation of Adolphe’s. In 1844 he invented and patented the muselet – or wire cage – that covers every cork, preventing it from popping prematurely.
His innovation did not stop there. Adolphe also collaborated with Dr. Jules Guyot to radically train his vines. Today the name Guyot is associated with his particular method of training the vines - a method used at quality wine estates around the world.
And if that wasn’t enough, Adolphe is further credited with teaching Johann Joseph Krug the art of blending, during Johann’s apprenticeship at Jacquesson.
Adolphe built the house up to one of the most popular in Champagne, and by 1867 had amassed sales of 1 million bottles. Today, the Chiquet brothers produce approximately 350,000 bottles per year. They currently have no plans to increase production, despite the growing demand for their wines.
The defining distinction for the modern house of Jacquesson came with the 2000 vintage. It was the exceptional quality of the grapes that year which drove the Chiquets to make an unprecedented move in Champagne.
It had been their feeling that producing a consistent style of non-vintage cuvee year after year was limiting their opportunities to advance and improve the wines. So, due to the high quality of the 2000 vintage, they took a leap of faith and for the first time in 150 years stopped making their classic non-vintage Brut. Instead, they created a vintage-based blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, and the 700 series was born.
Cuvee 728 (chosen as it was the 728th blended cuvee since the house’s inception) was a reflection of the ripe, fruity 2000 vintage and allowed the brothers to “prize excellence over consistency”, a principle they adhere to in every aspect of their production. Since then, each subsequent year has borne the next consecutive number and has expressed the essence of the particular vintage. Any addition of reserve wines is designed to reinforce the complexity of the wine without hiding the character of the base year.
Since taking over from their father 25 years ago, Jean-Herve and Laurent have lifted the house to new heights, and Jacquesson is one of the most respected and praised houses in Champagne. “Our biggest aim is to produce good wines”, Jean-Herve told us recently. “Think about us as great white winemakers, who happen to make sparkling wine, but that’s technically almost a ‘detail’”.
After the success of Cuvee 728, the Chiquet brothers made another bold decision. They discontinued the production of their vintage Millesime cuvee and began producing vintage wines sourced from ‘monocrus’, or single-vineyard sites. The wines from these lieux-dits (‘named’ vineyards) are made in tiny quantities, and only in the very best years. The number of bottles produced and the date of disgorgement are mentioned on the labels of each cuvee Jacquesson produces.
In July 2010, 145 bottles of champagne were discovered in a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea. 50 were Veuve Clicquot bottles, while the remaining 95 were from Juglar, a house that merged with Jacquesson in 1829. The bottles were dated to the end of the 1820s on account of markings found on the corks, making them some of the oldest bottles of ‘drinkable’ champagne. Eleven bottles - six Juglar, five Veuve Clicquot - sold at auction for $156,000 dollars in June 2012.
Jacquesson house is located in the Premier Cru village of Dizy, surrounded by a portion of their 31 hectares of estate-owned vineyards. Their other vineyards are located in the Grand Cru villages of Ay, Avize and Oiry and in the Premier Cru villages of Mareuil-sur-Ay and Hautvillers. They purchase less than 20% of their total production, from growers located in these same villages and with whom they have long and trusted relationships.
Upon arrival at the winery, the grapes go into traditional wooden vertical presses for a gentle extraction of the juice, and only the first pressing is used in the wines. This precise care continues during fermentation, which occurs in large oak ‘foudres’ to allow the wine to breathe. Most of the wines go through a second, malolactic fermentation, but only if it happens naturally. The must is periodically stirred (‘batonnage’), which enhances the richness, backbone and aromatic complexity one finds in Jacquesson champagnes. The wines are neither fined nor filtered, to safeguard the innate aromatics.
They regularly follow a practice of holding back finished wine for late disgorgement (degorgement tardif), to be offered as a ‘DT’ release, for the 700 series as well as their monocru vintage cuvees.