Henri Giraud, Espirit Nature NV
“Esprit Nature is the perfect entry-level Champagne for lovers of vinous and dense Champagne. With notes of orchard fruits, spices and almonds, it offers its full scope in the mouth with a delicious texture.” – Decanter
Once referred to by Robert Parker as “the greatest Champagne you’ve never heard of”, Champagne Henri Giraud is a family-run business that has been based in the Grand Cru village of Äy since the 17th Century. In fact, it’s one of the oldest Champagne houses to still be owned by its founding family. Having passed from generation to generation of the Giraud-Hémart family (descendants of Henri IV), the house now finds itself in the hands of Claude Giraud, a true master of old-vine Pinot Noir. What makes this producer so exciting is the lack of stainless steel in their winemaking. They favour the use of terracotta, sandstone, concrete eggs and most importantly, Argonne oak casks. (Trees from the historic Forest of Argonne have been used in the production of Champagne for ten centuries.) Although the popularity of vinification in oak is growing in Champagne, it is still relatively rare, but it places Henri Giraud in the illustrious company of the likes of Krug, Jacques Selosse, Billecart-Salmon and Bollinger. And it also gives Henri-Giraud’s wines a rich, powerful, woody and deeply hedonistic character. The sustainably farmed wines are made in boutique quantities – only 250,000 bottles a year – and in the very fashionable natural wine style, using minimal sulphur.