Henri Giraud

Henri Giraud History

Contemporaries of Henri IV, King of France from 1589 to 1610, and his descendants, the Giraud family settled permanently in Aÿ at the beginning of the 17th century.

Their history took root there and became closely interwoven with the momentous historical events relating to champagne from the 18th century onwards.

At the opening of the 20th century, Léon Giraud, cuirassier in the battle of the Marne, married Madaleine Hémart and reconstructed the family vineyard, which had been ravaged by phylloxera.

The Giraud-Hémart were growers who, like many others, decided to produce their own champagne in the postwar period.

However, when visionary and strong-willed Claude Giraud took the reins from his father Henri in 1983, he decided to bring the family business to a new level.

By looking at the past of the champagne business and leveraging on it to redefine its future, it has created a Maison with a very strong identity, based on the terroir of Aÿ grand cru where they are based, the Pinot Noir grape, and the unapologetic intense use of wooden barrel from the Argonne forest, something unique in Champagne today.

Henri Giraud Vineyards

The Maison works with 10 hectares it owns and with 15 hectares belonging to family members and friends.

They apply sustainable viticultural methods and are certified for high environmental value – HVE (the highest environmental certification assigned by the French Ministry of Agriculture).

The House is characterized by the dominant use of Pinot Noir, the grape that they believe truly expresses the identity of Champagne and of the village of Aÿ where they are based.

The Aÿ Terroir

Aÿ Grand Cru is where the Giraud-Hémart has grown vines and eventually produced its champagnes before expanding and accessing grapes of other crus.

Aÿ is an exceptional terroir, facing south on a steep slope, where grapes roast under the sun.

On its very poor chalky soil the vine suffers, but without water problems (water is provided by the chalk that acts as a sponge), and the Marne river brings its fresh currents.

Aÿ has historically been planted with Pinot Noir, a grape that arrived in Champagne from Burgundy, well before Chardonnay did.

As a result, all HENRI GIRAUD champagnes carry the distinctive characteristics of Aÿ, to a higher or lesser extent depending on the amount of this cru in the blend:  chalk, salinity, menthol, anise, combined with the power and body of Pinot Noir.

They also produce a Blanc the Blancs though, but the personality of Aÿ is always present.

The Argonne Forest

The HENRI GIRAUD winemaking philosophy highlights the terroir. For them, this approach also involves the use of wooden barrels, which have traditionally been used in Champagne until the introduction of stainless steel vats in the postwar period. 

The House has abandoned the use of stainless steel tanks in 2016 and uses instead small oak barrels from the Argonne forest, which lies between Champagne and the Vosges mountains, to accompany the Aÿ terroir towards excellence and bring out its typical minerality.

Henri Giraud Champagnes

Today the executor of the Giraud-Hémart unique winemaking philosophy and idea of pleasure through champagne is Sébastien Le Golvet, Claude Giraud’s son-in-law and Chef de Cave since 2000.

An ambitious, hardworking young man he is laser-focused and committed to a never-ending quest for excellence.

The result are wines of great personality, ful of taste and always accompanied by the distinctive minerality of Aÿ, and the noticeable but pleasant presence of wood in certain cuvées.

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