Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Backyard is Premier Cru

It’s a little drab here in Champagne in the winter, although I do like the cold (because one can wear all sorts of great clothing in the wintertime), and I also like that there are very distinct seasons here. This is a photo of my backyard – there’s a bit of lawn behind the house and then the vineyards of Dizy begin just over the fence. The best parcels lie in this section of the village, on the border with Aÿ. Dizy has long been known for the quality of its wines: it was mentioned by the writer Bertin du Rocheret for its sparkling wines in 1752, and Alexander Henderson, in his History of Ancient and Modern Wines, wrote in 1824, “The wines of the neighbouring territories of Mareuil and Dizy are of similar quality to those of Ay, and are often sold as such.”

Today the best producers in Dizy are undoubtedly Champagne Jacquesson and their cousins’ company down the street, Champagne Gaston Chiquet. Although I’ve tasted more vins clairs from the area, I’ve only tasted two finished champagnes that were pure Dizy, both from Jacquesson: the pungently fruity and unusually vinous Extra Brut Rosé, made from 100 percent meunier in the vineyard of Terres Rouges; and the sublime, intensely soil-expressive 2000 Corne Bautray, a pure chardonnay from 40-year-old vines on the slopes near my house. Neither of them are very easy to find, but they are both well worth the search.