Grower Champagne Club – December 2019

2011 Gaston Chiquet, “Spécial Club,” Brut, $80
Nicolas Chiquet planted his first vines back in 1746 and, like all growers at the time, his family sold their fruit to the large Champagne houses for generations. But in 1919 Fernand and Gaston Chiquet decided to use their fruit to create their own wines, becoming one of the first grower producers in Champagne. In 1935, Gaston parted from his brother and created his own brand. Today his grandsons, Nicolas and Antoine, oversee the family winery, in the village of Dizy just north of Epernay. They grow all three grape varietals on their 23 hectares of vineyards in the Marne Valley. Chiquet is one of 28 members of the Club Trésors de Champagne (aka, the “Spécial Club”), an association of Champagne producers selected according to a strict set of standards, who share a passionate commitment to their common objective of excellence. As we’ve mentioned in the past, after a series of blind tastings at several stages during the production process, and only in exceptional years, the group selects wines from among the members that they feel represent the highest expression of what grower Champagne can be. These are then released in specially designed bottles, such as this one from the 2011 vintage. It is 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from Chiquet’s vineyards in Hautvillers, Dizy, and Mareuil-sur-Äy, with predominantly clay and limestone soil on chalk. It is unoaked, but it does go through malolactic fermentation, is aged on lees a minimum of seven years, and got 8 grams dosage. Noted Champagne expert and author Peter Liem calls Chiquet “one of the finest grower estates in the [Marne Valley]. Chiquet’s wines combine a generous depth of fruit with a pronounced character of place.” The 2011 Special Club is a superb example. It is fresh and elegant, with fine bubbles, gorgeous depth, and lovely foral and nutty aromas. Enjoy it on its own, or with shellfish, such as lobster or crab, or with sushi.