Champagne Tasting - Henri Giraud
After I had discovered my latest favorite Champagne on a Bordeaux trip, I was thrilled when I learned that a vertical tasting with the Chef de Cave of Henri Giraud was coming to town!
This time the tasting went from MV13 down to MV07, which is roughly related to the year of bottling.
We started with something else though: the Chef de Cave offered us three different vin claire, which is the wine before it’s ready for consumption. It showed the development of the flavor over time.
These were interesting for the learning factor, but not something you would normally drink ;)
Some interesting facts about Henri Giraud were also provided:
Aÿ is the heart of Champagne, and Pinot Noir from the Grand Cru sites around Aÿ is the DNS code for the sparkling wines of Giraud. The Pinot and Chardonnay vines grow on a limestone layer several hundred metres deep, and the base wines obtained from them reflect the great terroir with their minerality.
Their vineyards boast over 180 terroir for the grapes and 10 different terroir for their trees used for the barrels. Yes, that’s right: they actually pay attention to the earth of the wood. Quite unique.
One vintage consists of 30% reserve and 70% new wine. Henri Giraud is still in family hands, so they are not a mass producer like Moet, for example. The house only produces about 290.000 bottles where others produce millions. And they sell fast.
Luckily, we had some of those rare magnum bottles in the room! So, without further ado…
A good quality vintage overall despite ups and downs through the year. Grapes struggled to ripen but where late picked at perfect maturity.
A nice, young Champagne that will age well. The concentration of flavors: bruised apples, and currants with citrus aromas and various spices form the core of an otherwise silky and elegant Champagne rounded by aromas of oak and baker’s yeast.
Spring frosts resulted in low yields, but the quality is exceptional. Expect balance, ripeness and concentration for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay based wines.
This is rich and concentrated; fruit aromas of peaches and white cherries blend seamlessly with oaky spices under a coating leasy blanket of freshly baked bread. With a beautiful structure and acidity, this is still very young.
Heavy august rains damaged the fruit. Lots of rot and uneven ripeness. Vignerons needed meticulous sorting in the vineyard and winery to make quality Champagne.
A leasy character, durable marshmallow and vanilla flavors still dominate an otherwise floral and white fruit profile. There’s some sea-like minerality and a robust acidic structure.
Excellent summer conditions made Pinot Noir perform well, although Chardonnay struggled a bit, this year’s wines are plump and concentrated.
This wine has a deep concentration. Pinot’s structure dominates the wine; A saline minerality can be distracting at first, but the wine opens up to saffron, crème brûlée, crystallized honey, and memories of a bakery in the morning. This is a delightful fizz.
A cloudy and dim summer marked this vintage, the grapes struggled to ripen, resulting in acidic wines, elegant and fragrant but without concentration or richness of flavor.
I won’t lie; this was my favorite wine. The Champagne has gained dark hues, and oak aromas have integrated beautifully with the fruit. No salinity here, instead there’s honey wax, apricots and hints of vanilla dominating the nose. The wine has a fine, piercing acidity and a long finish.
Thank you, Henri Giraud, you’re still making history!
It’s not easy to find this Champagne, especially the older vintages, but you can try winesearcher.com to find shops near you.