The Chiquet family first planted grapes in the Champagne region in 1746, though it wasn't until 1935 that Gaston Chiquet crafted his own wine. Today the estate stretches over 22 hectares of vines in the villages of Dizy, Aÿ and Maureil in the Vallee de la Marne area of central Champagne. Aÿ is home to Grand Cru vines of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and was the favored wine of King Henry IV, while Maureil is known for producing some of the finest Pinot Noir in France. These villages boast some of the most famous vineyards in all of the Champagne region, and it would be just as blasphemous to blend away the virtues of their soils as it would to mix grapes from Oakville with those grown in Oklahoma.
Though considered large by Grower-Producer standards, Gaston Chiquet produces just over 10,000 cases a year total of several different cuvées. Today the house is headed by Nicolas Chiquet, and though they have modernized the facilities, there is always an eye on the past. "Our essential goal is to maintain the quality requirements we have inherited," proclaims their website. "The techniques improved, the tradition remains."
After numerous green harvests the grapes are collected by hand. They undergo a rigorous inspection on the tirage table so that only the finest grapes make it into the vats where they are pressed very slowly and gently. At least 90% of each wine produced by the Chiquets is sourced from free-run juice. Once in barrel the wines are kept in small lots to preserve a larger selection for the final wines. Malolactic fermentation is controlled by temperature and used only when deemed strategically necessary. The wines undergo a long, slow rest on the lees in order to add richness and complexity.