I think if you asked me to sum up Chiquet’s wines in one pithy phrase, I’d have to say either “delicious and articulate” or “articulate and delicious” depending on which you preferred. (Maybe “salacious and ticklish,” in a pinch . . .) I myself tend to peg Nicolas Chiquet’s wines as “innately lovable” and so it always surprises me to rediscover just how focused and precise they are, as if the prose of E.B. White were rendered in the form of Champagne.
They taste effortless, tactful, yet attractive. What I’m tasting 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. Chiquets are both the chalkiest and most succulent of all my Champagnes. This is a 23-hectare estate, which means we can get some wine to sell! Which is lucky for us, because these are sensually gorgeous, hedonistic wines that everyone can cozy up to.
Nicolas Chiquet farms 23 heactares in the Valle de la Marne in the villages of Ay, Dizy, Hautvillers and Mareuil-sur-Ay. All of the fruit (including that which is used in the non-vintage cuvee) comes from premiere and grand cru grapes. Nicolas does not employ any oak aging at Gaston Chiquet; he believes that concentration, fruit maturity and malolactic fermentation impart enough body and texture to make aging in barrel unnecessary.
The vineyards are planted to equal (forty percent each) parts chardonnay, pinot meumier and twenty percent are planted to pinot noir. Gaston Chiquet also produces a vintage dated chardonnay from 5 parcels on the western side of the gramd cru village of Ay. Usually recognized as a grand cru village for pinot noir, these vines of chardonnay were planed in Ay in the 1930s.