Champagne Henri Giraud is the oldest Champagne house still owned by its founding family – the Giraud-Hémart family has farmed vines at Aÿ since 1625. However, it is only since current head Claude Giraud took over that the wines have been released under the family name. 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.