Airline tickets had been purchased for our return trip home to Vancouver after spending 14 months in the Champagne region of France. I had visited a number of Champagne houses – some more interesting than others – and felt that I accomplished what I had set out to do and I would save other visits for future trips.
Then, our neighbours held a BBQ on August 15th (the French holiday for the Assumption of Mary) and I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Marion Chiquet – 4th generation winemaker at her families’ champagne house, Champagne Gaston Chiquet. Marion was very easy to talk with and we agreed to meet the following day for a tasting and visit to the tasting room in Dizy.
The history of Champagne Gaston Chiquet started eight generations ago when Nicolas Chiquet planted his first vineyard in 1746. Gaston Chiquet started his own brand in 1935 and started purchasing vineyards in different villages to create more complex and diverse blending opportunities. Today, the house is still lead by the family – Antoine and his brother Nicolas – alongside Antoine’s daughter Marion who joined in 2014. The family has acquired 23 hectares of vineyard land in Dizy, Aÿ, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Hautvillers and produce 50% Chardonnay, 30% Meunier and 20% Pinot Noir respectively. Champagne Gaston Chiquet is designated HVE (High Environmental Value) as well as VDC (Sustainable Champagne Viticulture) as of 2015.
Champagne Gaston Chiquet Tasting:
- Tradition Premier Cru Brut – this champagne was my first introduction to the house about five years ago in Vancouver. I enjoyed the champagne then as much as I do now – this is the house style. Brimming with stone fruit flavours of peach and apricot with nice length and structure. The family has kept this a ‘traditional’ blend from the first time it was crafted by using 40% Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir.
- Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ Grand Cru Brut – before this tasting, I had never thought about the Grand Cru village of Aÿ being one classified with Chardonnay grapes – it is distinctly a Pinot Noir village. Ever a visionary, Gaston Chiquet purchased 7 hectares in Aÿ and planted it to Chardonnay. It is from these vineyards that this outstanding champagne is made. They call it the ‘champagne of the family’ – it is powerful yet elegant and interesting with flavours of red grapefruit, lemon rind, jasmine flowers and a top note of quince.
- Special Club Millésimé 2011 Grand Cru Brut – this beauty is a part of the distinguished ‘Club Trésors de Champagne’ – a group of winegrowers who formed together in 1971 to celebrate the very best of their champagnes guided by three main principles: authenticity, originality and meticulousness. Champagne Gaston Chiquet’s ‘Special Club’ is a Grand Cru blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. This champagne is perfectly harmonious and delicate with notes of dried apricot, hazelnut, pineapple confit and brioche.
- Or Premier Cru 2009 Brut – with only 6 grams of dosage, this champagne still shows its’ youthfulness despite its’ 10 years of aging. This is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from the villages of Hautvillers, Dizy and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. I found this champagne quite luxurious in flavour with notes of dried mango, allspice, honey and fig. The finish was long lasting and refined.
Champagne Gaston Chiquet is available in the Vancouver market at Marquis Wine Cellars. They are a ‘grower champagne’ or ‘RM’ which means they craft their champagnes from the vineyards they own and do not purchase grapes from other growers. The tasting room in Dizy was renovated, beautifully, a year and a half ago. Champagne Gaston Chiquet is a very welcoming house that balances their forward vision with the traditions of the past.