Discover Grower Champagne in six wines

Discover Grower Champagne in six wines

by Westgarth Wines June 06, 2024

Grower Champagne represents a remarkable shift in the Champagne region, where small-scale producers craft wines from their own vineyards. This movement emphasizes terroir, individuality, and artisanal techniques, setting it apart from the larger, more commercial Champagne houses. The resulting wines are celebrated for their unique expressions, depth, and character.

Fast facts

Name: The term "Grower Champagne" refers to Champagne produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown. These producers, often referred to as "Récoltant-Manipulant" (RM), control every aspect of the winemaking process, from vine to bottle.

Location: Grower-producers hail from all around the Champagne region in northeastern France, each contributing distinct terroirs to the overall diversity of Champagne.

Climate and Soil: The region benefits from a cool continental climate, essential for the high acidity in Champagne. The soil, predominantly chalk, limestone, and marl, contributes to the distinctive minerality and finesse of the wines.

Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are the primary grapes used in Champagne production from the permitted eight varietals. Grower Champagnes often highlight the unique characteristics of these grapes as expressed in their specific terroirs.

Indulge in the wines:

Jacques’ son Anselme Selosse is seen as a bit of a visionary in the grower-producer scene and is credited for single-handedly creating the movement. Known for his dedication to terroir and his innovative approach to winemaking.

Substance is just one such example of his unique approach. A non-vintage masterpiece, it is crafted using the solera system – a perpetual blending process used in sherrymaking. This singularly extraordinary Champagne is 100% Chardonnay and offers rich, oxidative notes of nuts, honey, and baked apple, balanced by a vibrant acidity and remarkable length.

Olivier Collin has quickly risen to prominence with his precise and terroir-driven Champagnes. Through the use of native yeasts, a minimal intervention approach that includes as little sulfur as possible, and finally minimal dosage, the final wines are beautifully pure and honest. While many producers aim to express their terroir, few manage it quite so succinctly and elegantly as Ulysse Collin.

Les Pierrières Blanc de Blancs, made from Chardonnay, showcases the chalky soils of his vineyards. This wine is known for its intense minerality, bright citrus flavors, and a subtle hint of brioche. The meticulous winemaking process emphasizes purity and precision, making it a favorite among aficionados.

Francis Egly of Egly-Ouriet is renowned for his commitment to low yields and extended aging. The resulting Champagnes show exceptional richness and complexity and have amassed a loyal following – especially since Robert Parker pronounced that the wines were "so good that I have begun buying them to drink chez-moi."

With barrel fermentation and 8 years on the lees, the sublime Brut Millésime offers uniquely smokey brioche, baked apple pastry and herbs over a richly textured, resonant palette.

An intrinsic connection to terroir helps winemaker Rodolphe Péters see blending with fascinating perspective: He prizes Le Mesnil for its winter character, stony and sharp with sea breeze; Oger he attributes to spring with its white fruit and flowers; Avize expresses summer with its generosity and ripe, full citrus; and lastly, Cramant embodies autumn with creamy chalk and sweet spices. This unique conceptualization of blending creates wines of stunning precision.

After long aging on the lees, Les Chétillons Cuvée Spéciale is an elegantly smooth Blanc de Blancs. Showing fresh bread, ginger, white flowers, and a delightful minerality, it is a sincerely artisanal output from a brilliant producer.

Renowned grower-producer house Vilmart & Cie's expression, Coeur de Cuvée, is so named because it goes one further than the concept of a cuvée.

Traditionally the cuvée is made from the purest juices of the first three pressings, and subsequent presses under higher pressure are used in the taille. Vilmart's flagship champagne, however, is made from only the coeur, or heart, of the cuvée leading to the most intricately refined expression of the fruit.

Fermentation takes place entirely in oak, imparting creamy depth and complexity, before considerable time on the lees. The resulting wines are generously wealthy in fruit and balanced by invigorating acidity, revealing nuances of supple oak character before a terrifically long finish.

A hugely sought-after producer in the Côte de bar, Cédric Bouchard specializes in producing striking Champagnes that express their vintage, terroir, and varietal in ways that few others can.

Keeping yields extremely low for concentration and richness, the exacting vinification of each grape variety is undertaken in a manner similar to Burgundy. Fermentation is completed with indigenous yeasts and the final wines are corked without dosage.

Roses de Jeanne Côte de Val Vilaine, made from Pinot Noir, is a stunning example of his philosophy. It offers unparalleled personality with intense red fruit aromas, delicate floral notes, and a precise, mineral-laden palate, showcasing the unique terroir of the Aube.

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