Claude Giraud has vineyards in the district of Aÿ, and produces two labels: Champagne Francois Hemart and Champagne Henri Giraud. Francois Hemart is a non-vintage range, with all fruit coming from Grand Cru
villages in Aÿ, whilst wines under the Giraud label are only released as vintage wines, again with all fruit from the best vineyard sites in Aÿ. The vintage wine sells for upwards of 100 euros per bottle,
putting it slap-bang in prestige cuvée territory.
Claude tells me that Aÿ is known for low acidity, on average yielding only around 4gm/l of total acidity. Yet despite this, Claude's wines do go through malolactic, and he harvests late. He pays great attention to the 'natural balance' of the harvest, and finds that carefully managed S02 levels are one of the keys to the ageability of his wines.
|In Champagne there are around 150 houses that vinify in wooden barrels. Claude started to use barrels in the early 80s, after researching how Champagne was made in previous centuries. He found that the local Forest of
Argonne had been the source of much of the village's wood, but the forest having not been managed for decades, he bought 2nd hand Vosges barrels from Meursault.
Now, Claude has worked with other growers in the village and has managed to revive a barrel industry in the Argonne Forest, and is proud of these barrels in his cellars. The Henri Giraud wines spend 12 months in wood.
Claude explains that his 10 hectares of vineyard is on a south-facing slopes with only 20cm of topsoil on 200 metres of chalk. His youngest vineyard is 30 years old, and he farms with minimum use of chemicals.
|See current stockists of Henri Giraud on wine-searcher.|
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