Grower Champagne Club – February 2012

2004 Jacquesson, Grand Rosé
This is a unique wine on so many levels. On the front label, you will see that it has an “NM” designation, indicating a négociant wine. Read the back label, though, and you’ll see how meticulously the fruit for this wine is sourced—clearly reflecting the intent and the passion of grower Champagnes. In fact, the front label is actually a detailed map of the vineyard site itself, showing the exact source of the fruit. So, while technically they may be a négociant (they purchase a small amount of fruit), a better description might be “large grower,” especially with a total production of less than 350,000 bottles per year. As for the house, it was founded in 1798 by Memmie Jacquesson (who was awarded a medal from Napoleon for his fine work!). Memmie’s son, Adolphe, took over in 1835 and made a number of important innovations, including inventing the wire cage that keeps the corks on the bottles (called a muselét by the way). In 1974 the business was bought by the Chiquet family, who continue to move the house towards a focus on single-vinyard wines, in order to showcase specific terroirs. Now, for the wine. Made from 83% Pinot Meunier and 17% Pinot Noir, sourced from their premier cru vineyard in the village of Dizy (in the Valley of the Marne), it is a Rosé like none other. It is made by the saignée method, leaving the juice on the skins to gain color rather than by adding still red wine, as is most common in Champagne, and is so dark you might expect it to be sweet. But with its very low dosage (extra brut level), it is quite brisk and refreshing on the palate, with earthy red fruit and a hint of oak, plus all the toasty warm flavors that Pinot Meunier tends to impart. This remarkable wine was originally $150, but as it is switching distributors (they have just a few bottles left) we were able to get it for $100, and offer it to our club members at $80. Enjoy it with paté, sweatbreads, or other savory foods. Try drinking it with your eyes closed!