The house of Champagne Jacquesson, founded in 1798 in Chalons, can nowadays be found in Dizy, only a few kilometers from Épernay. Jean-Hervé and Laurent Chiquet have taken over the Maison de Champagne in 1988 – with 15 hectares of land, contracts for 30 hectares all over the region of Champagne, and a production of 450.00 bottles a year.
“When we started, we didn’t have a particular strategy in mind. All we wanted was to make excellent wine”, says Jean-Hervé Chiquet about the beginning of the two brothers’ adventure. Going against the more popular tendency for many winegrowers to expand over time and become negociants, the Chiquet brothers instead aimed to focus on quality from the get-go, by decreasing production and increasing their efforts.
Pursuing a strategy of uncompromised quality, the brothers re-evaluated every production parameter with a critical eye.
Supported in their efforts by a motivated team, they applied many changes to both their vineyards and winemaking process in the following years, without ever shying away from necessary cuts along the way.
In order to improve the overall quality of their raw material, they went so far as to sell 5 hectares of their land, as the grapes grown from these unclassified terroirs fell short off their expectations and weren’t producing the remarkable wines they were looking for. Despite all those efforts, the brothers didn’t quite obtain the results they were striving for in the first few years.
“We worked so hard to achieve the best base wines possible and improve from year to year – but eventually we ended up blending them into a non-vintage champagne that we adapted to the taste of the previous years, something which made us grow increasingly frustrated”, Jean-Hervé says about the changes begun ten years after he and his brother had taken over the house.
It is out of their dissatisfaction that the famous Cuvée 700 was born.
“It was in spring 1998 and we were blending the base wines for our non-vintage champagne” he resumes from the moment that led them to change the way they were thinking.
“The very first assemblage we tasted was simply fabulous, and we were very enthusiastic about it. However, it was made of a high percentage of Chardonnay – very different from what we had made in the previous years.”
“We quickly decided against this blend in order to keep continuity, and instead tried to recreate the taste that was comparable to other years. The blend turned out to be okay and we proceeded to bottling, but it was far from being as impressive as the first assemblage we had tasted.”
A few weeks after bottling, Jean-Hervé and Laurent Chiquet reflected on their decision and had to confess to themselves that they weren’t happy with it. “We had to admit to ourselves that we had compromised to make a wine of a quality that was inferior to what we wanted to achieve” Chiquet explains.
Refocusing on their primary objectives, they decided to move into the opposite direction in the future, and never choose homogeneity over individuality again.
“Ever since that day, we’ve started our assemblage on a blank sheet every year, with one goal only: to make the best wine without any compromise.” Driven by the promise they made to themselves, the brothers set out to create their Cuvée 700.
Read the full story in CUVÉE Magazine No. 1 | Champagne.Order your copy in our shop