Allo mesdames et messieurs,
Autumn is here. The colors are changing and the air is getting crisper. Although champagne is good for every season, this month we present two champagnes from a single producer that seem to fit more the spirit of this time of the year; a time for reflection, with long, cool evenings that are perfect for reading and telling stories. This is the story of Gaston Chiquet, whose family planted their first vines in 1746, and through eight generations have brought us wines that are modern in their expression but with a solid traditional background coming from those three centuries of experience. Now is time to let those bottles tell their stories.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
La famille Plumpjack
About Gaston Chiquet:
In 1919, two brothers, Fernand and Gaston Chiquet— winemakers born and bred—came together to create their house, Chiquet Brothers. They were ‘pioneers’ in Champagne, the very first winemakers to take the initiative, bold at the time, to keep their grapes, turn them into Champagne and sell their own wine. Nicolas Chiquet planted his first vines in 1746, and since then, eight generations have tilled the village of Dizy’s soil. Gaston Chiquet registered the company in 1935 and expanded the property with land in Aÿ, Cumières and Hautvillers. Gaston Chiquet is best known for making the only blanc de blancs from the Pinot village of Aÿ. Aÿ was the big name in the area long before wines became sparkling, and many were the kings and popes who counted Vin d’Aÿ as their favorite wine. The vineyards slope down steeply to the village by the Marne River, and the best locations are just over the town, sheltered from the wind and with maximum exposure to the sun.
In 2003, Antoine and Nicolas Chiquet took over the reins of the winery, assuring continuity and respect for their ancestral rules whilst providing fresh ideas and perspectives. The techniques improve – the tradition endures. Today, the two brothers and the next generation, Marion Chiquet (Antoine’s daughter) work 23 hectares of vineyards situated primarily in the precious perimeter of Dizy, Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Hautvillers. The three grape varieties used in Champagne are cultivated in the following proportions: Chardonnay 50%, Pinot Meunier 30%, Pinot noir 20%.
Regarding farming practices, Gaston Chiquet is certified as Champagne Sustainable Viticulture-High Environmental Value after an audit of 125 requirements in 2015. In Nicolas’s words “Vine protection isn’t just a matter of pest control. It also means conservation of the plants and soil as part of an agrosystem and its biodiversity. To this end, we constantly evaluate our growing methods in order to combine tradition with the latest techniques and respect for environmental rules.”
Vinification: The Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ is 100% Chardonnay Granc Cru fruit from 25-year-old vines on clay and limestone on belemnita quadrata chalk soil. This chalk variety stores and radiates solar heat, maximizes drainage of excess water and retains humidity in summer. It stores the principal minerals that give the grapes their high ester content. The harvest is done manually in September by parcel. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation, tartaric stabilization in small-volume, temperature-controlled tanks during 3 to 4 months. Bottled 4 to 6 months after harvest.
Aging: An average of 3 years on lees.
Residual sugar: 6 g/l
Tasting notes: Vibrant pale yellow color. The nose shows citrus fruit like grapefruit, lemon and mandarin with accents of chalky minerality. Clean in the palate where the fruity notes are confirmed. Long pleasant finish.
Champagne Gaston Chiquet Rosé Brut 1er Cru:
Vinification: This Rose’ Brut is a blend of 40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier and 30% Pinot Noir. The base wine of this cuvee was from 2016 harvest. The soil from which the fruit comes has the same composition of the previous wine. The vinification process follows the same steps as well, sans lees aging and with the addition of 12% still red wine from Pinot Meunier grape for the color.
Residual sugar: 9.6 g/l
Tasting notes: Luminous pink/orange in color. Fine dancing bubbles. Small red fruits on the nose like pomegranate, wild strawberry and black cherry. A crunchy fruitiness upfront at the tasting that develops into a pleasant and warm finish with raspberry and watermelon sour candies accents.