Teaming up with Wine Source UK to discover and explain the concept of Grower Champagne. In June 2020, I did an IG video about ‘My buying guide to Champagne and Sparkling Wine’. If you want to watch this one click here.
But if you feel for treating yourself or others: Use this discount code on the Wine Source online shop for the following case: ‘I am cool, I drink Grower Champagne’: SNMS5
My favourite growers
Not trying to make this a too long or intimating list but there is a lot of great growers. I listed in some occasions my favourite blend/village/cuvee. In no specific order.
- Frederic Savart (L’Ouverture)
- Egly Ouriet (Les Vignes de Vrigny)
- Paul Dethune (Cuvee à L’Ancienne)
- Pierre Peters (Cuvée de Réserve, Blanc de Blancs)
- Dhont-Grollet (Cramant Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs )
- Chartogne Taillet (‘Sainte Anne’)
- Vouette et Sorbée (Nature ‘Fidele’)
- Agrapart (7 Crus)
- Eric Rodez (Blanc de Noirs & Blanc de Blancs)
- Jérôme Prévost (La Closerie De Beguines)
- Jacques Lassaigne (Les Vignes de Montgueux Blanc de Blancs)
A few facts
- Grower Champagne merely represent 5% of the total production.
- The two letters ‘RM’ = Recoltant Manipulant you find on the front or back label indicates Grower Champagne yet bear in mind that some grower champagne may be labelled differently. I explain this in greater detail in my video.
- It’s often a family run business with limited fundings. The quality lies in the bottle, or should I say in the liquid.
- Terroir-focused – so vineyard or village specific driven expressions.
- Very often low dosage styles like Extra Brut (>6g/l).
- Openly share disgorgement dates, dosage, blend or any useful information on the back label.
- Farming their own land means limited to no use of herbicides or pesticides in order to reduce the environmental impact.
Below you will find my personal tasting notes for 6 different Grower Champagne wines including some more specific background information.
Champagne Dhondt-Grellet, ‘Dans un premier temps’, Brut, Flavigny
Adrien Dhondt, born in 1991 who is based in the village of Flavigny (close to Avize). Meticulous system for their reserve wines which represent around 30%. It’s a blend of ~ 50% Chardonnay from the Côte de Sézanne (1/2 barrel fermented) plus 30% tank-fermented Pinot Noir from Avenay Val d’Or in the Vallée de la Marne and 20% tank-fermented old-vine Meunier from Cuis.
What I love here is the depth and persistency with the lovely nutty edge to it with complimented by some creamy nones. The citrusy backbone firmly holds the wine together yet layer by layer revealing more. Best enjoyed over a few hours. Oh boy if this is “just” his entry level…check out his Cramant.
Champagne Frederic Savart, ‘Ouverture’, Ecueil
Frederic wanted to be a pro-footballer…now in world of Champagne he is not only playing a serious game but in the champions league. He often refers to his location as ‘Le petit montagne’ – off the beaten track. Official wine growing region of Montage des Reims Often a 3 vintage blend with a high proportion of reserve wines – uses Stockinger barrels from Austria. L’Ouverture is 100% Pinot Noir but apparently older releases have seen some Chardonnay blended into it.
Pinot Noir always gives me this wonderful textural element and ginger / ginger biscuit like note. Reminds me always of home when my mum was baking ginger biscuits or lebkuchen. Orchard driven fruit element with a ripe citrusy backbone and some pastry notes. Mellow and soft finish. This is certainly a richer style but with that smart use of oak – extremely well made example.
Champagne NV Brut Rosé, Le Chapitre by José Lievens
85% Chardonnay are complimented with 15% Pinot Noir. They use 30% of ‘Reserve Wines’ which is truly impressive and reflects in the wine. Le Chapitre is a reference to a part in a monastery which can only be accessed by monks. Organic farmed vineyard and they winery is close to Berru which is 6 km east of Reims.
Aromatic red fruit driven style with a delicate straw and raspberry component yet not overbearing in any way. It’s one of these champagne which can deal with a variety of things and culinary delights so well – you just find yourself topping up your glass. Subtle floral notes with a fine but persistent mousse.
Champagne Vintage 2006 Brut, Le Chapitre by Jose Lievens
60% Chardonnay, 35% Meunier & 5% Pinot Noir. Le Chapitre is a reference to a part in a monastery which can only be accessed by monks. The label has a textural feel to it and is reassembling oak or oak barrels. Organic farmed vineyard and they winery is close to Berru which is 6 km east of Reims. In general Vintage 2006 is sadly often overlooked but the overall quality never really fails to surprise me.
Champagne which just has a bit of bottle age is beautiful, as you find primary, secondary and tertiary aromas & flavours. This champagne for example has an initial super citrusy nose followed by dried white flowers, oolong tea, and some toasty elements of rye bread. Big but balanced finish.
Champagne Eric Rodez, Rose Grand Cru, Ambonnay
Carefully crafted from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Eric applies the practices of aromatherapy to his vines/vineyard which reflects in using essential oils – like different citrus oils, rosemary and thyme. Many of them have antiseptic properties and the purpose of this is to have a healthy vineyard and reduce the risk of mildew and to promote the wildlife. I vividly remember his words – “I spray my essential oils in the vineyard and the butterflies are instantly behind me”.
This is rose champagne which has weight, body yet a wonderful crunchy red fruit element with a great citrusy backbone and a wonderful energy your mid-palate. With a very high proportion of reserve wines this strikes the balance perfectly between richness and elegance. Drink this on its own or pair this with food ideally game birds and you upgrade from Fiat Panda to a Ferrari 488 Pista.
Champagne Eric Rodez, Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Ambonnay
100% Chardonnay. Eric applies the practices of aromatherapy to his vines/vineyard which reflects in using essential oils – like different citrus oils, rosemary and thyme. Many of them have antiseptic properties and the purpose of this is to have a healthy vineyard and reduce the risk of mildew and to promote the wildlife. I vividly remember his words – “I spray my essential oils in the vineyard and the butterflies are instantly behind me”.
For me his wines always take you on a journey so give them time in the glass. Orange and orange peel – slightly candied. There is a lovely savoury component and some nutty character coming through – Macadamia nuts. Refreshing vibrant but not light with a slight creamy undertone. Serious Blanc the Blancs but so easy to drink.
In this 11 minute video I will analyse and describe the 6 Grower Champagne listed above plus talk about Food and Champagne pairing options. Stirring away from the statement ‘Champagne works with everything’ I am having a different approach by going around the clock starting with breakfast.
More than just ‘worth exploring’, Grower champagne is a highly underrated category and not only surprises but surpasses many set expectations.
P.S.: Tasting these 6 delightful grower champagne would have not been possible without the help of Wine Source and Claire Thevenot MS.