Champagne Henri Giraud
The Maison in Aÿ-Champagne has grown vines since the beginning of the 17th century. It began with the Hèmart family who were descendants of Henri IV. Fast forward to the 20th century when Leon Giraud married a Mademoiselle Hèmant and reconstructed the family vineyards which had bee ravaged by phylloxera. The house received négociant manipulant status in 1975. Today Claude Giraud, 12th generation of the Giraud-Hèmart family, oversees the estate. They work with 35 hectares of vineyards, 26 planted with Pinot Noir, and 9 with Chardonnay. 10 of these are their own Grand Cru vineyards in Aÿ solely planted with Pinot Noir, and the remainder belong to family and friends, in Aÿ and the Montagne de Reims. They do not use Pinot Meunier in their wines. Uniquely in Champagne neither they do use any stainless steel to ferment. Primary fermentation is conducted in oak from the Argonne forest, and various toasts are used for different parcels of grapes. They also use sandstone ogives as this shape allows maximum exchange with the lees. The attention to detail that this small boutique champagne house lavishes on their wines is truly extraordinary, and production is limited to 250,000 bottles a year [some Champagne houses produce millions]. At Henri Giraud they produce distinctive champagnes based on Pinot Noir. These wines are full-bodied with minerality, and idiosyncratic anise and salinity, which are traits of the Aÿ terroir – they have strong personalities!