The village of Chouilly, located south-east of Épernay, is the biggest Grand Cru rated site in Champagne. The most northerly wine commune of the famous Côte des Blancs region, it encompasses an impressive 525.5 hectares of land, making it the third biggest wine village in the whole of Champagne (after Les Riceys and Vertus).
One of only seventeen Grand Crus in the appellation, its reputation for producing top-quality grapes has been solidified over the years. Unsurprisingly, there are several high quality independent growers making champagne in Chouilly. One such grower that has become renown in recent times amongst champagne connoisseurs is Vazart-Coquart.
Founded in the late nineteenth century by Camille Vazart, the family is still based in the same house on Chouilly’s main street, and, after a 16-year ‘apprenticeship’ with his father, Camille’s grandson Jean-Pierre Vazart now manages the estate. Today, the single estate covers 11 hectares, 96% of which is planted with Chardonnay, leaving one tiny plot of Pinot Noir to make a Coteaux Champenois.
With parcels of vines in most of the best vineyard locations of Chouilly – including the prized Montaigu site near the Cramant border – Vazart-Coquart have access to many variations of soil and exposure, therefore producing a range of different wines (vins clairs) for the domaine to use in blending. Vinification is carried out in small tanks in order to best capture this wide variation and no oak barrels are used, a stylistic decision taken to preserve the delicate, elegant and floral fruit signature essence of Chouilly.
The quality of the Chouilly grapes is so precious that Jean-Pierre has recently devoted more effort to getting perfect maturity, which includes using sustainable viticulture methods (yields restrictions, growing grass between the rows, treatments limits, protection of the environment) and ensuring the optimal date for harvesting.
Vazart-Coquart produce eight cuvées, the best of which is their Blanc de Blancs Special Club (so named as they are a member of the Club Trésors du Champagne – ‘Special Club’ – and therefore must produce their premium cuvée in the club livery special bottle). Blanc de Blancs Special Club is always a vintage champagne and is produced from the very best fruit of the estate. It undergoes a significant 6-7 years of lees ageing and is aged on cork rather than crown cap.
This unique cuvée recently transitioned vintages, from 2008 to 2010. We recently tasted the new release alongside the previous vintage and were mightily impressed with its abundance of ripe fruit and intriguingly complex lees characteristics, a testament to the extended lees ageing that Jean-Pierre is committed to. Special Club 2010 is a perfect example of the power of Chardonnay from the Chouilly region, which produced outstandingly fresh and balanced, yet complex and rich, wines in a difficult vintage where the majority of Pinot Noir was affected by rot. Another fantastic release from one of the best growers in the region and a must-try for any Chardonnay lover.
|Vazart-Coquart Blanc de Blancs Special Club 2008 | 16.5/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 7 Years | Disgorged: November 2016 | Dosage: 7 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 2.5 Years
Lots of cooked apples and hints of spice like cinnamon. Baked apple comes through on the palate with pineapple and fresh zesty ripe lemon. Quite a mouthful with lots of chalky character – slightly short finish.
|Vazart-Coquart Blanc de Blancs Special Club 2010 | 17.5+/20
100% CH | Lees Ageing: 7 Years | Disgorged: October 2018 | Dosage: 3.5 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 4 Months
Very fresh with bundles of lemon and lime and beautiful chalky character. The low dosage makes it extra brut but that doesn’t come across as it has so much fruit and ripeness mixed with lees character that builds up to some light custard layering. This feels young and vibrant with an exciting future. This is a good example showing how good one grape variety can be in a region – CH from 2010 is great, a year when PN was affected by rot.