When it comes to choosing champagne, it’s easy to pick one of the massively marketed grandes marques. However, it might pay to seek out a house that is quietly creating a great reputation. Jacquesson is often voted by wine experts as a must-buy champagne.
The House of Jacquesson was founded in 1798. Today, brothers Jean-Hervé and Laurent Chiquet are at the helm. With other brands, a non-vintage champagne usually showcases the “house style”, producing a wine that is consistent in taste regardless of vintage variation. This is achieved through blending and the use of reserve wines from back vintages. Jacquesson, however, is different. In 2000, the house started the Cuvée 700 series, which is described as the “opposite of a non vintage wine”. The goal is to “seek excellence rather than homogeneity, respect for the character of the vintage rather than its denial, and the preference to strive to produce a great wine rather than maintain a house style”.
The “700” denotes the production number of the cuvée’s record in the cellar book, with cuvée No 1 having been made in 1898. Cuvée 728 is that which is based on grapes from the 2000 vintage.
Jacquesson may change depending on vintage but it is always elegant and pure, with mineral notes and low dosage levels. Its low sugar levels make it a good food wine to be enjoyed throughout the meal.
Here are three standouts.
Jacquesson Cuvée 738 NV
A blend of 61 per cent chardonnay, 18 per cent pinot noir and 21 per cent pinot meunier. Sixty seven per cent of the wine is made from grapes from the 2010 vintage, while reserve wines from back vintages make up the rest of the blend. Aged for three to four years.
Citrus, apple, mineral, toasty notes. Well balanced with good fruit intensity, crisp acidity and finishing fairly long. Approachable, elegant and ready to drink. HK$457
Jacquesson Brut Avize Grand Cru Champ Caïn 2004
Champ Caïn is a lieu-dit (“said location”, referring to a specific vineyard) with chardonnay vines planted in 1962. The year 2004 was a classic year, with mild and rainy weather during the summer months followed by hot and sunny weather in September. The wine has spent eight years on lees before disgorgement in 2013. Made entirely from chardonnay.
Very restrained with mineral, citrus and floral notes. Elegant, tightly woven with high acidity. More linear in style. Very young, with good cellaring potential. HK$1,722
Jacquesson Cuvée 733 Dégorgement Tardif NV
The dégorgement tardif (late disgorged) is made with the same method as wines from the 700 series. The champagne is aged for nine years before release. Jacquesson believes that “the wine has matured a lot but evolved very little, it has gained complexity without ageing in any other way”. Think of this wine as a mature person who is still youthful on the outside and inside.
The wine is a blend mainly from 2005, with reserve wines from 2004 and 2001 vintages. A blend of 52 per cent chardonnay, 24 per cent pinot noir and 24 per cent pinot meunier. The wine was disgorged (removal of sediment) in September 2013.
Honeyed, toasty and yeasty nose. Quite tight on palate. Mellow, with rounder fruit. Still youthful, complex and elegant. HK$750
The wines are available from Kerry Wines (kerrywines.com).