Gaston Chiquet, Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ, Grand Cru
In July, I had an amazing opportunity to visit four producers in Champagne, thanks to the folks at importer Michael Skurnik and our distributor Cavatappi, who arranged a full schedule that kept my husband and I busily criss-crossing the region all day. Our first stop was in the Vallée de la Marne village of Dizy, at the estate of Gaston Chiquet. Chiquet planted their first vines back in the 1740s and like all growers, they sold their fruit to the large Champagne houses. But in 1919 brothers Fernand and Gaston decided to keep their fruit and bottle their own Champagne, thus becoming the first grower producer in Champagne. A bold move at the time, but one which set a wonderful precedent! Today the Chiquet wines are made by brothers Nicolas (who was in the states at the time of our visit) and Antoine, who took us on an in-depth tour of the cellars, the production line, and one of their small vineyards just behind the winery. When it was time to head to our next visit, we’d run out of time to taste, so Antoine handed us a bottle to take with us—which turned out to be this very wine. We brought it home and opened it on our anniversary, and it was both a great memento and a stunning Champagne!
Chiquet’s Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ is perhaps the only all-Chardonnay Champagne sourced from the grand cru vineyards of Aÿ, highly coveted for their Pinot Noir, and it expresses the Aÿ terroir in a pure and singular way. It is rich, layered, and complex, almost demanding your attention. You could pair it with a favorite meal, or you might just want to contemplate it on its own. It is $52. Terry Theise describes Chiquet’s Champagnes as “sensually gorgeous, hedonistic wines that everyone can cozy up to…. Focused, refined, and friendly.” So true!