Demi-sec: the elephant in the room in Champagne11th December, 2012 by Lucy Shaw
Demi-sec has become the elephant in the room in Champagne, according to one of the region’s top winemakers.
Speaking to the drinks business at a tasting lunch at Chrysan in London last week, Champagne Jacquart’s chief winemaker Floriane Eznack said: “Our demi-sec sales are growing, but it’s the wine we don’t talk about.
“There’s still a prejudice surrounding the style. In the past people would add sugar to their Champagne to hide faults so it has a negative connotation.
“No one likes to talk about demi-sec in the region, but a lot of people like to drink it. The style isn’t going out of fashion, if anything it’s getting more popular.”
Since joining Jacquart last year after four years at Veuve Clicquot, Eznack has drastically scaled back the Jacquart range from 18 lines to just six.
“It was a bit of a nightmare when I started – we had all these different non-vintage Champagnes and three prestige cuvées. It was important to reduce the range to give it more focus,” she told db.
Eznack is currently fine-tuning a new prestige cuvée to be released next year.
“We haven’t finalised the name yet, but it will be a vintage Champagne from our best Premier and Grand Cru sites,” she said.
The wine will not replace the house’s current prestige cuvée, 50/50 Chardonnay, Pinot Noir non-vintage blend Brut de Nominée, but rather slot in above it.
Before the release, Jacquart will launch its 2006 Blanc de Blancs onto the market early next year, having aged it on its lees for six years.
“I’m not really into extra ageing my wines – I want them to be fresh and instantly enjoyable,” she revealed.
Her next challenge is site selection: “I’m making it my focus to select the best grapes from the best plots to up our quality game.
“I’m not looking to be revolutionary and radically shape things up, I just want to make the most terroir-driven Champagne possible.
“The house lost its way a bit in the mid ‘90s, but now we know where we’re going,” she said.
Eznack’s long-term goal is to carve out a niche for Jacquart as makers of Champagnes that boast both freshness and concentration.
“It’s a challenge in Champagne, and hard to achieve both, but we’re on the way.
“We’re a young company, we need to take our time. Big changes won’t happen overnight,” she admitted.
While the 2012 harvest proved difficult, Eznack is positive about the outcome.
“The 2012 growing season threw everything it could at us: frost, rain, hail, heat waves.
“Our yields were down by 30-40%, but the grapes we did harvest displayed lovely aromas during fermentation. It might well turn out to be a vintage year for those who picked from the best sites,” she said.
Eznack also revealed that sales of Jacquart rosé are booming in Japan due to the positive associations with the colour pink in the county.
“Pink is a very important colour in Japan – it signals the coming of spring and cherry blossom, so our rosé sales have always been high there.
“I also think it matches very well with Japanese cuisine, particularly sushi,” she said.