A passion for excellence has driven Jacquesson Champagne since its earliest days.
In 1798, Memmie Jacquesson founded the Champagne company and a dozen years later, Napoleon I awarded it a gold medal. In 1863, Napoleon III bestowed on her son, Adolphe, the commendation Chevalier de Legion d’Honneur. After Adolphe’s death, the descendants sold the business, and in 1974, champagne producer Jean Chiquet bought Jacquesson.
Jean-Harvé Chiquet joined his father in 1978; his brother Laurent came on board in 1985. The following year, they took the reins of Jacquesson and began revising “everything but the name,” said Jean-Harvé during my September visit.
First to feel their passion were the vines. They instituted a new trellising system and removed more leaves, which increased air flow and sunlight, offsetting any grape rot from inclement weather. Grass was planted between the rows, creating a habitat for beneficial insects and enriching the soil. Combined with the elimination of herbicides and chemical fertilizers, Jacquesson’s vineyards qualify as organic. But they do not put that on the Champagne label, because, Jean-Harvé says, “our goal is not to make organic wine, it is to make the best wine.”
Jacquesson owns 67 acres of vineyards and buys grapes from another 24 acres, all rated Grand Cru or Premier Cru. The brothers decided all the grapes had to be within 15 miles of the winery to minimize the risk of grapes splitting when hauled to Jacquesson on tractor-pulled carts.
These decisions reduced Jacquesson’s production by 40 percent, but increased its quality.
Ninety percent of champagne is nonvintage. In order for consumers to feel confident about buying it year after year, Champagne houses blend wine from various years to create a consistent style.