Champagne Jean-Noël Haton: the best-known champagne that you’ve probably never heard of.
If you’ve never heard of Champagne Jean-Noël Haton and think you’ve never tasted any champagne made by this company based in Damery in La Vallée de La Marne, you may well be mistaken. In fact Jean-Noël Haton may just be the best-known champagne that you’ve never heard of. Confused? Let me explain…
The company dates back to 1928 and has grown to an extent that was probably way beyond the dreams of Octave Haton, the founder and perhaps even of René who expanded the company considerably in the 1970s. Today the family estate covers some 20 hectares of vineyard situated mainly in and around Damery with some plots in other parts of Champagne as well.
There are at least two reasons for this remarkable growth and the most significant must surely be the drive and energy of the current head of the house: Jean-Noël himself. His idea of a quiet weekend is to spend the entire time driving a forklift truck to move pallet-loads of bottles to make more room in the storage area and in fact one could say that M. Haton’s work is also his pleasure. This would probably cause some friction in the family were it not for the fact that Jean Noel’s wife and son are also heavily involved in running the business, so despite the growth over the years Champagne Jean Noël Haton is still very much a family affair.
The other reason for the growth of the company could not have happened without the first. Rather than limiting the production capacity by relying solely on grapes from his own vineyards Jean-Noël decided to buy grapes from other growers around the region and with this extra production capacity he was able to supply many of the large companies who market champagne under their own name. That’s why if you’ve ever bought an ‘own label’ champagne – and let’s face it most of us have at one time or another – it’s highly likely that you tasted one of Jean-Noel’s champagnes – you’ve just never realised it was he who made it.
Now before you start thinking to yourself that champagne sold in big chain stores under their own label is not the best quality, think again. You have only to look at the medals and other awards that are regularly bestowed on own-label brands to see that nothing could be further from the truth. In fact these buyers can be some of the most demanding of all, but even they could not fail to be impressed with the winery in Damery; just one glance shows you that this is a serious operation. State-of-the-art buildings housing row upon row of new stainless steel, temperature controlled vats and not a speck of dirt, or dust to be seen anywhere. Even the hoses which are essential in every winery but which more often than not are left in disarray, are neatly rolled up or arranged in line at Champagne Jean-Noël Haton, yet another piece of evidence that Monsieur Haton runs a tight ship.
Whilst own label champagne remains an important part of overall sales the main focus these days is on the range of champagnes sold under the Jean-Noël Haton brand name
The range is broad, too broad to mention each cuvée individually, but from the Cuvée Classic a relatively young, but easily likeable blend of 60% Meunier and 40% Pinot Noir, to the 4 cuvées in the Extra range, the youngest of which has been aged 6 years, Jean-Noël Haton champagnes are beginning to get the sort of recognition and the awards that they deserve including two gold medals from the International Wines and Spirits Challenge in 2016
Add to this the fact that you’re sure of a very warm welcome from the team in Damery if you visit the maison and it’s safe to say that you’re sure of a great experience if you ever have the opportunity to try the champagnes from this dynamic, but (as yet) little-known house.