Jacques Lassaigne

France

Emmanuel Lassaigne owns a small holding (3.5ha) of old vine chardonnay, in the isolated village of Montgueux to the west of Troyes, also complementing this by buying grapes from trusted sources – 2.5ha of old vines planted on the slopes where he doesn’t own vineyards in the village. Here there is a Cretaceous strata of chalk, 15 million years older than in the Côte des Blancs. Back in the 1970s his father Jacques, together with three brothers, became only the second family in Montgueux to own a press (Champagne Beaugrand, still in operation today, was the first). The estate sold both grapes and bottles of champagne before running into financial difficulties in the late 1990s. At this point in 1999 Manu ditched a successful job with an international manufacturing company and came home to help his parents, motivated both by the prospect of his family losing the estate and also by a sense of frustration he felt at the lack of recognition for Montgueux. Most of the other areas in Champagne can point to centuries of wine-making history – Montgueux can’t, and even when the négoce bought grapes from the village they tried to hide the fact. Manu explains, "To buy so much fruit and then deny it is not fair. I thought we must put Montgueux on our bottles and be proud of our terroir. I was born here. If people say where you were born is shit and you disagree, well you are motivated to do something about it".

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