Organic in Champagne at Vazart-Coquart

Jean-Pierre Vazart in his vineyard in the Grand Cru Village of Chouilly, located in the Côtes des Blancs

Champagne Vazart-Coquart & Fils
After visiting one of the Grand Marque Houses, our next stop was with a small grower-producer. We met with Jean-Pierre Vazart of Champagne Vazart-Coquart in the Grand Cru Village of Chouilly, not far from Epernay. The family are long-time growers in Champagne, in the early 1950’s they decided to gear up for producing their own Champagne. In 1954, they bottled their first Champagne and Vazart-Coquart was born. Jean-Pierre represents the third generation and he told us he has hopes that his daughter may take over in time.

Disclosure: Comité Champagne sponsored our press visits for two days in the northern part of Champagne (Reims, Epernay). Later in the week, we set up independent visits in the Cote des Bar. We provided our own transportation to and from the region.

Long Commitment to Sustainability
Champagne Vazart-Coquart has a long commitment to treating their land for the long term. When the Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) program was launched for all farms in France, they were one of first 3 wine estates to achieve HVE certification in 2012. In 2017, Jean-Pierre decided to go further and started the organic transition for all their vineyards. They achieved full organic certification in 2020. One twist to organic labeling for Champagnes is the use of reserve wines.

As a small producer, Vazart-Coquart utilizes a perpetual reserve with new wine being added to the blend every year as wine is drawn out for the current non-vintage (NV) wine. Since the reserve isn’t all certified organic, the Champagne can’t be certified. Jean-Pierre started a new perpetual reserve in 2020. As the old reserve is drawn down and the new reserve achieves the desired stability and complexity, they will transition and their NV Champagne will be certified organic. It’s a journey!

(click on any image for a full size slide show)

2021 Vintage posed challenges
The climate in Champagne has always been a challenge for anyone growing wine grapes. The growing season is short with threats of hard frost in the spring, summer hail and rain, and rain at harvest. Years with excessive rain are especially challenging for organic growers. There are no cures for downy mildew, it can only be prevented by preventing it affecting the vines.

The threat of moisture is ever-present. On this morning in October, a shroud of mist hung over the Marne river below Chouilly

Jean-Pierre explained there are strict limits to the organic approved treatments for fungus like downy mildew as the treatment (copper-sulfate and sulfur) lingers in the ground if too much is used. The treatment is a surface treatment and loses it’s effectiveness once a certain amount of rain has fallen. Thus, organic growers must be more vigilant compared to conventional growers. Jean-Pierre believes he may have saved his 2021 harvest by recognizing a brief vulnerable period at flowering and treating his vines that Saturday in the spring.

Champagne Vazart-Coquart & Fils
Vazart-Coquart & Fils is located in the Côte des Blancs and the chalk soils here are perfect for supporting Chardonnay. In addition, the village of Chouilly is noted as a Grand Cru village as the wines are particularly fine, vintage after vintage. With the exception of their Rosé which contains a bit of Pinot Noir, all their wines are Blanc des Blancs. Chardonnay grown in such a cool climate can be somewhat severe and require aging to soften the edges. However, I didn’t find that to be the case with Jean-Pierre’s wines. They were very elegant and fresh with the NV Brut Reserve being 100% ready to enjoy. Jean-Pierre stressed the basic NV wine must be of the highest quality since it serves as the ambassador for the entire brand of the house.

Tasting with Jean-Pierre

Visiting Champagne Vazart-Coquart & Fils
Should your travels take you to Champagne, you can visit and see and taste for yourself these fine Champagnes. At a Grower-Producer, you will often be meeting with the person who both grows the grapes and makes the wine. Visit information is located here. Champagne Vazart-Coquart is also a member of the Vignerons Indépendants, so you may find them at one of the large shows around France during the year.

Comments
2 Responses to “Organic in Champagne at Vazart-Coquart”
  1. Lynn says:

    I like everything about this Jeff- small producer, practicing sustainability (and understands copper is toxic!), and his champagne, based on what you say, sounds fantastic. Thanks for the introduction to Vazart-Coquart!

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  1. […] Champagne Vazart-CoquartJean-Pierre Vazart is a Grower-Producer in the Côte des Blancs. His vineyards are certified organic. Read about our visit here. […]



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