Champagne Jacquart is a large-scale co-operative sourcing fruit from over 60 villages across 300 hectares of Champagne. Cellar master Joëlle Weiss tells Anne Krebiehl MW how this translates into the House’s various cuvées including Jacquart Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012, the fourth edition of this prestige cuvée and the first to be bottled in magnum – put down to the fact that “it has reached a point of balance.” Krebiehl tastes the new wine alongside the Mosaïque Signature NV and Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2014, explaining the unique style of each cuvée.
“I look to white Burgundy and the idea of roundness and complexity,” says cellar master Joëlle Weiss about the new Jacquart Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012.
Champagne Jacquart has a powerful and articulate ambassador in its petite but spirited cellar master Joëlle Weiss. She was in London to launch the latest prestige cuvée of the house, Champagne Jacquart Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012, but also managed to give a great introduction to her house which still offers unusual value in Champagne.
Champagne Jacquart was founded in 1964 by a group of about 30 grape growers and they are still a co-operative today albeit on a much larger scale – so much so that Weiss calls it “a mosaic of people, of grapes, of villages… sourcing grapes from more than 60 villages across 300 hectares of Champagne,” which inspired the name of their non-vintage cuvée Mosaïque. “They wanted to create an international brand that could compete with big négociants,” she said. Jacquart now exports 65% of its production to more than 45 countries.
Pitching for a style
“The idea at the time was to be modern, geared towards an aperitif style, towards Chardonnay – so a very clear style. We love the freshness Chardonnay gives to the wine,” Weiss said. This is something the co-op realised with aplomb. Weiss explains: “The challenge is to be very dynamic and citrus-focussed but not too austere. So we have a more reductive vinification, we use only the first pressing, we only use stainless steel and a rather cool fermentation of 18-12° Celsius. The idea is to stay very close to the fruit then, once you have achieved that, you can add something that is rounder like malolactic fermentation and ageing on lees.”
Jacquart’s widely distributed non-vintage range Mosaïque exemplifies this, embodying that both fruity-fresh but sleek style. That the Mosaïque NV is a wine with much potential becomes clear when you taste Champagne Jacquart Mosaïque Signature NV: it is the same blend, the same wine as Mosaïque NV, but aged for two years longer, i.e. it spends five years on lees rather than three and has a slightly lower dosage of 7 g/l. This wine, Weiss says, “was created for the on-trade, to start as aperitif and take you through the meal.”
Jacquart’s Chardonnay focus is made manifest in the vintage Blanc de Blancs, a textbook wine if ever there was one. The first vintage of this wine was made in 1978, released in 1983. Grapes are sourced from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards only. The current edition is from the 2014 vintage and made from Chardonnays grown in Oger, Cramant, Le Mesnil, Avize and Villers-Marmery. “It is all about clarity and all about soil,” Weiss said. It must be one of the top-value Blanc de Blancs out there.
Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012
The 2012 vintage is the fourth edition of this prestige cuvée: 2005, 2006 and 2010 were the previous vintages produced. Despite its name Alpha Blanc isnot a pure Chardonnay but a blend of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir. It is sourced from the Grand Cru villages of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Aÿ, Verzenay and Verzy, spent eight years on lees, and was disgorged in 2020 with a dosage of 7g/l. “The idea here is that we have three elements,” Weiss said. “Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and time; we always want at least eight years on lees. I think we have reached a point of balance, that is why we bottled Alpha 2012 in magnum for the first time.” Tasted from magnum, it turns out to be a beautifully gastronomic Champagne. Weiss agreed: “I look to white Burgundy and the idea of roundness and complexity.”
So how were these Champagnes tasting?
Champagne Jacquart Mosaïque Signature NV
A lovely cloud of reductive smoke opens into citric, butter biscuit notes on the nose, accompanied by a savoury saltiness. The palate is taut and brisk but its freshness is tamed by richer autolytic notes of creaminess and springy yeast pastry, striking a lovely and fresh balance.
Champagne Jacquart Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2014
Lovely highlights of cream, salt and lemon immediately strike the nose, more air intensifies the notion of ripe Amalfi lemon zest, citrus and slightly toasted hazelnut. The palate has an immediate chalkiness, a lovely sense of place, of coolest depth. This is such a clear, bright and brisk expression of Blanc de Blancs, countered by buttery autolysis – richness and coolness contrast and coexist beautifully and leave a long, salty umami finish. (disgorged September 2021 with 6 g/l dosage.)
Champagne Jacquart Alpha Blanc Vintage 2012
Notes of smoke, butter and lemon curd are immediately vivid on the nose. A note of blossom honey, stone fruit and cherry stone appears with more air. On the palate, a sonorous note of fresh white field mushroom signals some evolution alongside notes of salty white miso. Smooth mousse transports this appealing aromatic mix but also shows off lovely concentration and beautiful depth. This is ready now and deserves to be served at table. RRP £110 for the bottle; £250 for the magnum, available to purchase at The Great Wine Co.