Epic Chardonnay from Pinot's Grand Cru Turf
2002 Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blanc d'Aÿ MAGS
Terroir Reigns: Richness, Harmony, Detail
"What I'm tasting [in Chiquet's lineup] are wines of pure terroir. They are, in effect, anti-varietal. Even the celebrated Aÿ Chardonnay isn't so much a variant on Chardonnay as it is another dialect of Aÿ." - Terry Theise
Another dialect of Aÿ. Yes, the wines of Gaston Chiquet, above all, speak clearly of where they come from.
When "where you come from" is Aÿ, you don't need to do much more. Aÿ, along with Verzenay, Ambonnay, Cramant and Mesnil, is considered one of the top five Grand Crus of Champagne.
Yet within these ranks, the wines of Gaston Chiquet occupy a special space: For all this pedigree, this nobility, Chiquet's could be called rather quiet wines, speaking honestly, with an acute sense of articulacy, a certain decorum, secure in the knowledge that they don't have to shout to make a point. It's a beautiful, eloquent, fresh perspective.
What's more is that, within the context of Aÿ, Chiquet's wine is a bit of an outlier: It's Chardonnay made in the land of Pinot Noir. For Champagne fanatics, Chiquet's Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ represents a very special perspective on one of the grandest of the Grand Crus.
At Chiquet, they definitely treat the wine like it's special: In good vintages, they bottle a bit of the Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ in magnum to be set aside for late release... hence today's offer. (The 750s are also from a single vintage, but they're released earlier, therefore without the vintage on the label per Champagne laws.)
2002 was definitely a "good vintage." It was, indeed, great - thought to be the best in Champagne since the glorious 1996. 2002 produced wines of balanced power... exactly the quality that promises to make epic these magnums of Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ.
As for the style of Chiquet's Aÿ Chardonnay in comparison to the focused and nervy, chalk-steeped Chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs, this comes from the soils of the Marne, which are simply richer, more clay-influenced, and more often south-facing than those of the Côte des Blancs, Champagne's more traditional neighborhood for Chardonnay.
Consequently, this shows more richness, more body and a minerality that's earthier and more robust. There are also exotic flourishes to the fruit, yet prudently, Chiquet ages the wine in steel tanks to maintain focus and detail, of which there's plenty on display here.
What's striking is that Chiquet's Blanc de Blancs d'Aÿ struts, with such confidence, the roundness that separates the wine from its lithe Côte des Blancs brethren - and it does so without falling into any of the traps. It remains rigorous and delineated. This is where Grand Cru breeding and sensitive winemaking are decisive.
It's the richness yet harmony, the concentration yet balance here that practically guarantee that the wine will age well. Still, the ample body also promises that this will drink well in its youth. I'd encourage you to stock up here for both occasions... although it bears repeating that, in juxtaposition to the wine itself, quantities today are quite small.
Please give us your maximum order, and we'll allocate accordingly. To order, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
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