I’m delighted to offer what I firmly believe are some of the most exciting Champagnes currently being produced. Having just returned from visiting Maison Giraud with some of our sales team I cannot overstate my enthusiasm for these exceptional Champagnes. I believe all their wines are exceptional.
Until 1990 Henri Giraud Champagne was reserved for a select private clientele in France and Italy. As a small family run house the Girauds oversee every step of the production process themselves, skilfully crafting their individualistic Champagnes to create incredible intensity, class and balance.
Over the last 10 centuries, the wines of Aÿ have been classed among the world’s finest wines. Aÿ sits at the intersection of the three principal terroirs of the Champagne region: the Marne Valley, the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. The secret behind the extraordinary quality of Aÿ’s wines is a unique terroir with south facing chalk hillsides. Only 17 of the Champagne region’s 323 Crus, are classed as Grand Crus (rated 100%). Aÿ is regarded as the quality benchmark for the Grand Crus, it is arguably the best place in Champagne to grow Pinot Noir.
The Giraud-Hémart family own an incredible 35 parcels of Grand Cru land in Aÿ; 26 planted with Pinot Noir and 9 with Chardonnay. This fabulous holding of Grand Cru land provides the most fantastic rich fruit. Claude Giraud is the 12th generation of the Giraud-Hémart family in Aÿ, probably one of the few managing directors of a Champagne house who oversees every load of grapes to go into the press! The wines are then given additional complexity by ageing and fermenting in oak casks, a traditional way of handling the wines that few producers still follow. Long yeast ageing prior to degorgement enhances the wines’ complexity.
If I were forced to chose just two wines from what was a fabulous lineup, I would pick these two:
Henri Giraud, Hommage à François Hémart, Aÿ Grand Cru NV
Henri Giraud’s Cuvée Hommage à François Hémart is a real gem of a Champagne, and extraordinarily well priced. Made with intense fruit from the Giraud family’s own vineyards, careful production using barrel maturation, malolactic-conversion and extended lees ageing add richness and complexity. The result is a distinctive, individualistic, complex wine that leaves most other premium non-vintage Champagnes looking quite ordinary.
The brilliance, intensity and richness of fruit grown on Aÿ’s south-facing hill-sides of is ably demonstrated in this wine. In the prime of youth François Hémart is beautifully elegant with classic freshness. After a couple of years bottle-age the wine becomes a nuttier and more complex entity with dazzlingly intricate flavours.
“Bright and lustrous pale gold with a fine lively mousse of tiny, pin-prick bubbles rising persistently. The palate combines an open, lively, spontaneous and refreshing modern Champagne style with more classic notes. The vinous mouth-weight has a little fatness. Notes of yeast, anise, stone fruit and dried apricot all combine in a long, complex finish.” 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay
Henri Giraud, Fût de Chêne, Aÿ Grand Cru NV 2000
The Fût de Chêne 2000 as one of the richest, most full-bodied and powerful Champagnes imaginable. This is truly the ultimate expression of ripe fruit, predominantly Pinot Noir from the exceptional Grand Cru of Aÿ, framed by elegant oak from fermentation and maturation. The wine is a taut and lively heavyweight, possessing poise and balance that complements its weight, making it a wonderful accompaniment for a wide range of foods.
“A persistent bead of tiny bubbles rises through this bright, richly coloured wine. Delicate red fruits rise above complex meaty and toasty notes on the nose. On the tongue an initially delicate red fruit character steadily builds to a rich core where soft red fruits meld with complex smoky yeast and oak aromas. An almost buttery texture compliments a lovely soft mousse. Balancing acidity gives the wine elegance and good length.”70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay
Tasting notes and text by David Allen MW, Coe Vintners
The Giraud range:
|x12 inc VAT||Each inc VAT|
|Henri Giraud, Esprit de Giraud NV||£359.22||£29.94|
|Henri Giraud, Esprit de Giraud Blanc de Blanc NV||£367.16||£30.60|
|Henri Giraud, Esprit de Giraud Rosé NV||£431.28||£35.94|
|Henri Giraud, Hommage à François Hémart, Aÿ Grand Cru NV||£467.94||£39.00|
|Henri Giraud, Code Noir, Aÿ Grand Cru NV||£856.15||£71.35|
|Henri Giraud, Code Noir Rosé Aÿ Grand Cru NV||£856.15||£71.35|
|Henri Giraud, Fût de Chêne, Aÿ Grand Cru 2000||£1,584.00||£132.00|