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By Michael Hepworth

The new winemaker for Champagne Jacquart was in Beverly Hills this week for a private tasting whch included their premium release called Cuvee Alpha.  Her name is Floriane Eznak, and although I do not know what percentage of champagne producers have women as their head winemaker, but this particular one certainly knew her stuff.  She has only been on board for three years, so her wine will make its debut in 2015, and observers will be keenly waiting to compare to previous years.

Champagne Jacquart is based in Reims, and although the company is relatively new compared to a lot of the established houses, they now produce 4 million bottles a year. According to the experts and champagne critics, they are well received wines and the grapes have an average ranking of 96%.  The company is actually a co-operative of 5,930 acres spread over sixty villages in the Marne Valley, and they have an ultra modern facility where they use the massive 17,500 pound presses.

Speaking more on the grapes, Pinot Noir accounts for 38% of the planting, a grape well suited to chalky soils and cool temperatures.  This is the predominate grape in the region which produces fruit aromas, power and structure.  Meunier grapes account for 32% of the planting and adds roundness to the overall blend and they also help the blend age more quickly.  Chardonnay grapes make up the other 30% and this grape provides the essential citrus aromas as well as providing the vital minerality. Chardonnay grapes are also ideal for ageing.  Because it is such a young house, the freshness of the Chardonnay grape provide the youthful spirit that Jacquart has relied on to get market share.

The house currently produces five wines and I did try the Brut Mosaic that has a pale color and is a champagne that can be used for any occasion with flavors of fruit and orange blossom.  I also tried the Rose which was salmon pink in color and strong on structure.  However things picked up considerably when the 2006 Cuvee Alpha was poured.  This is a champagne that has been in the USA since early September retailing for about $140.  Only 10,000 bottles of this are produced so better check now with your local high end wine store for availability.  This champagne is robust in appearance and a smooth silky texture thanks to the prolonged aging.  The food pairing for this goodie will be Carpaccio salad w/ginger, John Dory or Dry Duck.  If $140 is just a drop in the ocean for you, then you might want to seek out the Magnum bottle of the Jacquart 1990 Nominee vintage, a champagne that is apparently outstanding,

Website: www.champagne-jacquart.com



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