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Jacquart: 2013 not a vintage year

The harvest in Champagne this year was not high enough quality to be deemed a vintage year, according to Floriane Eznack, chef de cave at Jacquart.

Jacquart’s chef de cave, Floriane Eznack, with the new Cuvée Alpha 2005

Speaking to the drinks business at a tasting of the house’s recently released prestige cuvée, Cuvée Alpha 2005, Eznack said: “Personally, I don’t think 2013 is good enough to be a vintage year in Champagne, though some of my neighbours will disagree.

“We won’t be making a vintage this year, save for perhaps a tiny amount of Blanc de Blancs. I’d rather top up my reserve wines.

“Yields weren’t a problem for us this year but site selection was. Grapes in a lot of villages suffered from rot due to rain in September, and the hail didn’t help. The erratic weather patterns are making my job as a winemaker harder.

“You’ll see a huge difference in quality between the crus this year. The Chardonnay from the Côtes des Bar is looking gorgeous, but the wines are very high in acidity – there’s a lot of malic acid in them.”

Eznack’s comments lie in contrast to those of Philippe Bienvenue of Champagne Cattier, who earlier this month told db he felt the 2013 harvest was of vintage quality.

Due to go on sale at Harrods for around £90, Eznack explained that Cuvée Alpha is a way of showing consumers what Jacquart is capable of at the top end.

“The wine was three years in the making and is all about paving the way for the future of house. We don’t have the weight of history on our shoulders so can afford to take a few risks.

“It’s not always about volumes, but image. How you are perceived is very important in Champagne,” she said.

Jacquart Cuvée Alpha 2005

Eznack anticipates Alpha will always be a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but is unsure about how frequently the prestige cuvée will be released.

“There are no rules as to how many times we will release it in a decade, but I think it will be no more than four. Releasing too many vintages in a decade can have a negative effect.

“Of course, the Champenois will tell you that every year is a vintage year and exceptional quality, but releasing three vintages in a row dilutes the importance and perceived prestige of a vintage offering,” she told db.

Having said that, the house is poised to release the 2006 vintage of Cuvée Alpha next year, though volumes will remain limited.

“We’ll always keep our Alpha offering small, I don’t anticipate ever making more than 10,000 bottles per vintage,” Eznack said.

In terms of competition in the market, Eznack is going after Taittinger Comtes de Champagne fans. “I really like the buttery, oxidized styles of prestige cuvée like Comtes ­– I’d say that is our key competitor,” she said.

“I want to make an immediately enjoyable wine that is rich and interesting but also has real ageing potential. I think Alpha can age comfortably for a decade after disgorgement,” she added.

A rounder-shouldered bottle is on the cards for the prestige cuvée, along with a magnum offering of the 2012 vintage, 1,000 of which have just been bottled.

In addition to Cuvée Alpha, a Cuvée Alpha Rosé is in the pipeline and will be released in two to three year’s time. Only around 5,000 bottles have been made.

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