Champagne Jacquesson and its new owners

It was a bang for the buck at the end of the year: The billionaire Pinault family took over Champagne Jacquesson through its Artémis group of companies. After Artémis had already acquired minority shares in the Maison from Dizy, founded in 1798, in spring 2022, the rest followed in December. At ProWein, Jean Garandeau, the company's new managing director since last October, already presented the new products for 2023.

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No big news could think who was registered on the occasion of the ProWein 2023 for the tasting of the current champagnes of Jacquesson. The current edition from the 700 series was presented, the counterpart as DT (“dégorgement tardive”) and the Lieu-dits, the very limited single-vineyard bottlings of the year. But even though the labels still said “Champagne Jacquesson | Famille Chiquet”, it was no longer Jean-Hervé Chiquet who explained the wines as usual. This year, Jean Garandeau, sales and marketing director of Artémis Domaines since 2010, took over this function.

Homepge of Artémis Domaines
The Homepage of Artémis Domaines

This in turn is part of the Groupe Artémis of the Pinault family, which also includes the luxury goods group Kering with brands such as Balenciaga, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as Christies՚s auction house. Artémis Domaines is the group’s division specializing in wineries, so to speak. The website names the five icons Château Latour in the Médoc (since 1993), the Burgundian Clos de Tart (2018) and Domaine d’Eugénie (2006, formerly: René Engel), Château-Grillet (2011) on the Rhone, and Arraujo Eisele Vineyards (2013) from California’s Napa Valley as its holdings.

Only three months: Champagne Henriot and Jacquesson under one umbrella

Champagne capsules
Siblings for a short time

In September 2022, Maisons & Domaines Henriot was also acquired. These include the champagne producer of the same name, which was sold on in March 2023, as well as the Bouchard house in Burgundy and the wineries William Fèvre in Chablis and Beaux Frères in Oregon. It is unmistakable that François Pinault is following in the footsteps of his great rival Bernard Arnault and his LVMH group with this expansion policy. Especially since he has now extended the concept of a group of domains to include trading houses that buy in grapes. We will see what consequences this will have on the positioning of Artémis Domaines. After all, Pinault is known to appreciate the pleasure of wine, unlike Arnault, who, it is said, very rarely drinks it.

Jean Garandeau
Jean Garandeau

In any case, Jean Garandeau presented Jacquesson’s “Le program 2023” with great expertise. Additionally, he gave some insights into the future strategy of the Artémis Group. For now, in addition to his job at Jacquesson, he will retain his role as sales and marketing director for all Artémis wineries and will commute between Bordeaux and Champagne. There is currently no classic chef de cave working on site. Garandeau trusts a trio, the longtime employees Benjamin Vitrac, Jacquesson’s sales manager since 1998, and Yann Le Gall, a senior cellar staff member since 2010, as well as Mathilde Prier, who took over responsibility for vineyard operations in 2020. Garandeau himself gained experience in the region in four years between 2006 and 2010 as senior brand manager at Champagne Krug.

Continuity and respect

According to Garandeau, the takeover of Jacquesson by Artémis will first of all be marked by continuity and respect for the work of the Chiquet family. In the end, the latter had been the reason for the acquisition of the Maison. Accordingly, nothing will change in the concept of their 700 series introduced in 2000. As well with it’s the counterpart, the version with extended lees aging (Dégorgement Tardive) launched in 2014. Their creators understood these to be the opposite of a non-vintage wine. “Vintages with Reserve,” so to speak, as champagne expert Tyson Stelzer once put it. A pioneering act at the time, many houses have since adapted it. Among them are Krug (“Édition”) and Roederer (“Collection”), both of which with consecutive numbers.

The core of the portfolio
The core of the portfolio: The 700-series

Garandeau announced, however, that in the future there will also be DT versions for the Single Vineyard Champagnes. But with about 500 bottles each in minimal availability. However, the “Lieu dits” are not to be expanded. The 700s still form the basis of the house. Only if the year allows it and the grapes are not needed for the classic cuvées, it makes sense to fill them separately. In general, expansion is not a goal, rather an even “stronger focus” on one’s own strengths. “Whatever that costs,” as Garandeau adds with a smile.

This certainly does not only refer to the wine production itself, such as an even longer yeast storage or a longer resting period after disgorgement. But also – in conjunction with Artémis – to more effective worldwide distribution. Garandeau points out that Jacquesson has been an innovation driver since its foundation, for example in champagne closures. This is something that must be continued. Increasing attention is now being paid to vineyard work, not least organic and biodynamic cultivation. Although the Chiquets have left the winery, they will still be active as winegrowers of their 28 hectares of vineyards in Dizy for Jacquesson.

“Le programme 2023”

A bottle of Champagne
Lieu-dit Champ Caïn aus Avize

The Cuvée 746 is based primarily on the 2018 vintage, specifically Pinot Noirs from Aÿ, Dizy, Hautvillers (68 percent) and Chardonnays from Avize et Oiry (32 percent). Like all the wines presented, it will not go on sale until the following weeks. A touch of red fruit, still very yeasty and some wood present, very creamy. A tad more ponderous than its predecessors due to the hot year. 93 points. The Cuvée 741 DT comes mainly from the late-harvested 2013 vintage, particularly Pinots Noirs from Aÿ and Dizy and Chardonnays from Avize. 94 months on the lees. 94 months on the lees, no dosage … Disgorged in April 2022, the Champagne is very vinous, with stronger autolysis character. Presents itself surprisingly accessible, but certainly needs more time. 95 points.

I had already presented the Vauzelle Terme 2013 Extra Brut here. 96 points. Its counterpart Champ Caïn 2013 Extra Brut is a pure Blanc de Blancs from a 1.3 hectare parcel in Avize. Still somewhat subtle aromatics of yellow stone fruits, white flowers and almonds. Very elegant and promising. 95 points.

© all photos except site shown: Stefan Pegatzky / Time Tunnel Images

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