Claude Giraud is the 12th generation of the Giraud-Hémart family to preside over the family business and produce Henri Giraud Champagne in Aÿ. The wines are moving towards 100% oak fermented, a practice not commonly used elsewhere in Champagne, the notable exponents being Bollinger (for their vintage Champagnes), Alfred Gratien and Krug. The Henri Giraud Esprit is a great entry level and they get much better too.
The power and fullness of the Coteaux d’Aÿ. Matured in small oak casks. 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, harvested exclusively from the vineyards of Aÿ. Fermented in temperature regulated vats and raised for six months in small oak casks.
A fair step up from the lovely Esprit. There is power and complex that is immediately apparent. Then they have built in layers of flavour and texture. This is a serious wine that deserves your full attention. Sit down with some lovely cheese, pate and charcuterie and see how it evolves over the evening. This wine will evolve with time in the bottle too.
A wine region of France approximately 160km East of Paris. It is also the name of the wines produced from the area. Most famously it is a sparkling wine that undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle and is aged on lees. Although there is the occasional still wine you can find around particularly Pinot Noir. The fantastically named Bouzy Rouge is one such example. There are very few single vintage, single vineyard, single variety Champagnes (I can only name one and it was produced only 47 times between 1900 and 1999). Why? Due to the large area the region covers, and the challenging weather the houses blended wines to produce a consistent and reliable product every year. This is where the growers come in. They relish the chance to show off vintage variation and small plot wines.
This is the most elusive grape. It is relatively early ripening and extremely sensitive to terroir. Its perfect place on earth is the Cote d’Or in Burgundy. So haunting are great red Burgundy’s charms that growers everywhere try to emulate them. Pinot Noir is not just a one trick pony, it can make great reds, rosé, sparkling and even sweet wines, whites on occasion and I’ve tasted a decent fortified Pinot Noir too. Adding body, perfume and richness to Champagne it also adds red berry and floral/rose petal notes along with spice and subtle layers.
The grape that you can plant anywhere, in any climate and do anything to and it will still taste like an OK wine. When people hit the sweet spot of site, climate, cropping and winemaking, Chardonnay becomes a magical wine that will age gracefully but charm you at any age. Chardonnays can range from cool climate lean and citrusy to warmer climate tropical and overt. Oak and lees can add flavouring as can malolactic fermentation. In a Champagne context Chard can add mineral flavours, stone fruits and acidity along with some weight of fruit.