In the last 10 years, Grower Champagne--Champagne made by small farmers rather than big factories--has exploded on the scene. It's tempting to think that before this happened Americans just drank mass-produced sparkling wines from industrial concerns.
But actually, even in those old, less enlightened days, there was one important Champagne that was made on a small artisanal scale--one Champagne that in-the-know Champagne drinkers would avidly seek out at top stores in the U.S., or order, nodding wisely, off the best winelists in Paris: Jacquesson.
Times have changed. But Jacquesson still make incredible boutique wines. If anything, the quality has gotten even better: improved farming (they abandoned herbicides) and a greater focus on single vintages and single vineyards have made the wines more terroir and vintage specific than ever.
But their recipe in the winery remains traditional and unchanged. The wines are made in large old oak vats. There is battonage (stirring of the lees, which gives added breadth and richness to the wine) just once per week. The wines are not filtered and dosage is minimal.
Yes, this sounds a bit like many of the Champagnes made today by fashionable new grower-producers. But for Jacquesson it comes naturally. They've been doing it this way for a long time. This experience and tradition speaks volumes in the very high quality of the wine.