Recently, our buying team took a trip to Champagne specifically to get to know the ‘grower’ Champagne producers that we have been working with; a fascinating and exciting selection of wines that have become increasingly popular amongst our team and clients.
Small Production, Inherently Artisanal Wines
These ‘grower’ Champagnes are by definition crafted by the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay growers and their families rather than made from bought in fruit as is the norm. The production of these wines is small when compared to the big Champagne houses and the absence of massive production facilities is inherently artisanal.
Champagnes Packed With Individuality and Character
Thanks to this, the wines are packed with individuality and character and, for the Champagne connoisseur, are worth getting to know. Marketing budgets are generally non-existent so they can fly under the radar, but with all the focus put into the grapes and wine, if you know where to look, you can find beautiful, hand-crafted Champagnes that are exceptional value for money.
Look for the “RM” Designation
Spotting a grower producer is easy. Simply look for the “RM” designation on the lower corner of a Champagne label which stands for récoltant-manipulant (a grower). For the record, NM stands for négociant-manipulant, one of the big houses.
Some of Our Favourite ‘Grower Champagnes’
To follow up our visit, here is a round up of some of our favourite grower producers visited on the trip:
Big things are going on at Paul Bara. A winery upgrade from concrete vessels to temperature controlled stainless steel tanks is sure to create even greater efficiency in their production. The estate, established in Bouzy in 1833, is comprised of 11 hectares of grapes which make up their range of Champagnes known for their distinct fruitiness. Paul Bara is also a member of the Club de Trésors (Special Club of Champagne), an association of growers who produce top cuvées bottled under the club label.
This tiny estate of 4 hectares uses only Chardonnay in the production of their exquisite Champagnes. Harvest is generally carried out one week later than other producers, making final wines lower in acidity and a low/zero dosage possible. Stylistically, Varnier-Fanniere Champagnes are elegant, crisp and dry (low or zero dosage) with mouth-filling texture.
This organic and biodynamic estate comprised of 9.5 hectares in Bergères-lès-Vertus, Chouilly, Cramant, and Vertus, make some of the best Champagne I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. The vineyards are planted with 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir, including a few hectares of 80 year old Chardonnay vines in Cramant. The entire production is made with a natural approach and the resulting wines have unmistakeable creaminess, complexity and sophistication.
This Cote de Blancs based winery is home to some of the most terroir-driven Champagnes on the market. The estate is comprised of 24 acres that have been parcelled into 60 sites where organic (not certified) viticulture has been practiced for over 30 years. Each of their labels is a true reflection of the place it came from. Overall the wines are precise, complex and long-lived.
Founded in 1892, the Champagne of Guy Charlemagne is known for purity and elegance. Situated in the heart of the Cote de Blancs, the estate produces a range of wines from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier from an average of 35 year old vines. The ultra-concentrated Mesnillésime made from 60 year old vines is a serious Champagne that is not to be missed (especially at a fraction of the price of neighbouring Salon).
These are profound wines with outstanding pedigree. Legendary winemaker Anseleme Selosse crafts his beautiful wines from 10 hectares of Chardonnay in Avize, Oger, Mesnil, Cramant, Ambonnay, Mareuil and Ay. In the cellar, Anseleme is mindful of Burgundy; his wines are aged in their respective parcels in small Burgundian barrels and are given weekly treatments of batonnage. In addition, the dosage is always very low. The resulting wines are widely acknowledged as some of the most magical examples of Champagne that exist.
If you are interested in finding out more about our grower’s Champagne offers or order any of this Champagne for delivery please click here for our listings or email us.
Buyer and Marketing Manager – Winery Direct Supply