Saint Chamant & Coquillette 

Now that we’re smack in the middle of celebration season, I find myself wondering, with every toast: Why Champagne? Besides being delicious, what accounts for its specific mystique, its literal elevated status - the raised glasses in which we so often hold the stuff  - its figurative fizz, if you will? It might sound odd, but I think it in large part comes down to the inevitable tension between bubbles and time.  On the one hand - nothing sparkling can stay that way for long; on the other, the precision, attention, and patience it takes to produce great Champagne, the rigorous and lengthy stations of methode Champenoise (assemblage, remouage, degorgement, dosage) require a life’s work – all to conjugate a particular future-present pluperfect tense. The sound a popped Champagne cork makes is NOW and it starts the countdown to the end of each bottle’s effervescence. So we use Champagne to welcome each New Year, punctuate personal milestones, and bookmark special occasions because it’s a libation commensurate with our ambivalence about nothing ever staying the same. 

Or maybe it’s something more in line with what author Roald Dahl (creator of Fizzy Lifting Drink after all) allegedly told his daughter once: “I drink it because it’s fizzy and makes me go WHEEE.” (Or something like that; I don’t remember the exact wording.) 

Anyway, this month, we have two very special bottles, spanning two generations of the same remarkable family, that can support either theory, or both, or neither. Happy Holidays! 

Champagne Saint-Chamant was established in 1930 by Pierre and Hélène Coquillette. Their son, Christian, took over operations in 1950, and has since turned it into one of the most respected grower estates in the entire appellation. Though the vast majority of the vines are located in Chouilly, the estate itself is to the west in Epernay, occupying an unassuming  house which conceals a mile-long labyrinth  of cellar-caves built in the early 19th century. Christian spent 70 years in and around these tunnels, pruning, trellising, riddling, and even bottling everything by hand. Specializing in Chardonnay and insisting on extended lees aging (bottles are disgorged only after they are ordered), he never wavered from his singular, labor-intensive vision of rich, elegant and precise bubbly. Christian passed away in 2020, making the 2010 vintage we are featuring here one of his last bottlings. We couldn’t be happier to share it with you and whomever you choose to toast and  remember this time of year. 

Our second bottle this month is both a tribute to and departure from the first. When Christian’s son Stéphane Coquillette turned 25, his father encouraged him to start his own estate. Though mentored by his father, Stéphane developed a very different style of expression at his own house, creating fresher, drier Champagnes, primarily from Chouilly (Grand Cru), Cuis (99% 1er Cru) for Chardonnay, and d’Aÿ (Grand Cru) and Mareuil/Aÿ (99% 1er Cru) for Pinot Noir. Committed to organic practices, Stéphane avoids herbicides at all costs, which is extremely rare and difficult for the area. Like his father, he does all the farming by hand, including trellising and pruning, which helps avoid disease and allows for a healthy crop. All his wines are small-production, fresh and lively, and meticulous. This is a great bottle with which to ring in the New Year. 


The PlumpJack Family 

Saint Chamant Integral Blanc de Blancs 2010

From: FRANCE • Champagne Côte de Blancs • Chouilly

About the Winery:  The estate consists of 11.50 hectares of vineyards, of which 11.4 hectares are dedicated to Chardonnay production. The grapes are 100% from Grand Cru Chouilly in the Côte de Blancs. The wines are housed in Saint-Chamant’s cellar, which is over a mile long and lined with hundreds of thousands of bottles.

Assemblage/Vinification:  All grapes are hand-harvested. Average élevage time is nine months, in stainless steel and enamel tanks. Dosage zero grams per liter. Long lees aging is the order of the day, as all wines are only disgorged once an order is placed, a practice that is unique within Champagne.

Dosage:  0 g/l

Tasting notes: “The newly released 2010 Brut Intégral from Saint-Chamant is showing nicely, revealing aromas of crisp yellow apples, honeycomb, white flowers and warm biscuits. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, tensile and incisive, with fine depth at the core, a refined mousse and a penetrating finish. This really needs a year or two on the cork to begin to show more complexity, but it is a finely balanced Champagne with a long future ahead of it.” - Wine Advocate

Winemaker: Christian Coquilllete 

Price per bottle / Price per case: $82/$885.6

Suggested Food Pairing:

Lobsters, Oysters, Omelettes, Caviar, Holiday Gatherings

Champagne Coquillette Inflorescence N/V

From: FRANCE • Champagne • Mareuil sur Aÿ, Vallée de La Marne

About the Vinification: The vines are entirely worked by hand with careful training and thinning in order to aerate and allow for good ventilation of the grape bunches. Stephane does not employ herbicides and maintains  a culture of high environmental value.

Assemblage/Vinification: Begins with selected yeasts, stirring on fine lees, malolactic fermentation with cold stabilization to avoid any tartaric precipitation, and an aging of 3.5 years. Two thirds Pinot Noir and one third Chardonnay. Although not marked as such, the grapes in ‘Inflorescence’ are all from a single vintage, as Stéphane does not use reserve wines to adjust the blend of his NV cuvées. Aging is done in secondhand Meursault barrels and in bottles under crown cap.

Dosage:  +/- 5 g/l

Tasting notes:   Aromas of cherry pit, raspberry, flowers, and a touch of cinnamon spice. A hint of apple skin tannin lends its grip, emphasizing the delightfully austere, dry style of the wine. An elegant and delicate Champagne that possesses a touch of richness alongside Stéphane’s characteristic mineral cut. 

Winemaker:  Stéphane Coquillette 

Price per bottle / Price per case:


Suggested Food Pairing:

Oily Fish, Oysters, Hard Cheeses, Steak Frites

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