Jacquesson: Champagne's revolutionaries

It can be said of Jacquesson that the champagnes of today have nothing in common with the champagnes being made 30 years ago at this maison. The brothers Jean Hervé and Laurent Chiquet have completly changed the way this house, established in 1798 produce champagne and have now positioned themsleves in the top 10 producers in the region.

The most radical step was to drop the system of trying to produce the same blend each year which at times resulted in producing a lesser champagne than the currently vintage would have been if it had been made as a vintage champagne. With the introduction of the 700 system, a champagne based on the year with some reserve wines made in the best possible way to represent the vintage rather than the style of the house. The first one carried the number 728 (the 728th wine made by Jacquesson since 1898.) This year the 745 will be released, based on the 2017 vintage.

Jacquesson have roughly 30 hectares, primarily premier cru and grand cru sites in Dizy, Hautvillars, Ay, Avize and Oiry. The vineyards are meticulously cared for, pesticides and herbicides are not used. What is really interesting is the low yields, 60Hl/hectare, two thirds of champagnes average.

The hands of approach is emulated in the cellars, the grapes are pressed in gentle vertical presses, where there is more visibility of the fruit, better slef filtration due to the higher surface area and they allow more retrousse (seperation and redistrubition of the press cake between pressings). 

The vin clairs are made in an oxidative style, each parcel is vinified seperately in a 45hL oak barrel, allowing the wine to breathe. The wines are not filtered and allowed to rest on the lees. Batonnage occurs ever two weeks and helps to prevent oxidisation and a reduces  the need to use sulphur.

Malolactic fermentation occurs and the wines are racked into tanks just before the next harvest.

Reserves are used for the 700 series, but not with the single vineyards. The 700 series spends 3 or 4 years on the lees and the dosage is always under 6g/l. At the moment the average dosage is 2,5g/l. 

The Degorment Tardif is the same champagne as the 700 series with longer lee aging. This year the 740 (based on the 2012 vintage) will be released, which has spent 94 months on the lees and was disgorged in May 2021. 

There are four single vineyards,: Dizy Terre Rouges, the name comes from the reddish brown limestone. The Terre Rouges is sometimes vinified as a Rosé, sometimes as a Blanc de noirs. at first it was 100% Meunier but now is mostly Pinot Noir.

Dizy Corne Bautray is a 100% chardonnay, the soils are limestone with clay on the surface. This is a rich, powerful expression of chardonnay with less acidity than one finds in the Côte de Blancs.

Avize Champ Cain, also a powerful Chardonnay but here the chalky soils of Avize deliver more finess and minerality than the Corne Bautray.

Ay Vauzelle Terme is the jewel in the crown, 100% Pinot noir a big, complex, concentrated champagne that needs time to evolve and show its full potential.

Stylistically Jacquesson's champagnes are powerful and precise, although the elevage is oxidative, they show hardly any oxidative notes. They are extremely complex with big structure and depth. The minerality comes more to the fore through aging. I personally do not see them as aperitif champagnes but rathers as partners to food. I would serve thenm with the sort of food one would drink big chablis or white burgundians,. The Terre Rouge can easily replace a Pinot Noir and works very well with game birds or duck. If drinking young, better to decant or to use burgundy glasses, these champagnes need a lot of air to show their full potential.

 

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