The about Grower Champagnes...guest blogger + sommelier Matt Arnall
Popping bottles to ring in 2018 but tired of drinking ‘Yellow Label’?
It's time to upgrade your bubbly. These aren’t your typical bottles both fantastic and affordable, I'm talking about grower champagnes (GC). What is grower champagne? The simple answer: it's getting your champagne from the farmers market, instead of the grocery store. They are produced by hardworking, family-owned farms that grow, press, and bottle their grapes own their own estate. It’s a group of people who banned together years ago to express the individual terroir from the region of Champagne in France, and to compete against the bigger houses. Curious? Add a bottle from the list below to your NYE celebration to get started.
Terroir: sounds like “tare WAHr”
Terroir is how a particular region’s climate, soils and aspect (terrain) affect the taste of wine. Some regions are said to have more ‘terroir’ than others.
Grand Cru: grand cru: sounds like ɡrand ˈkro͞o
(chiefly in French official classifications) a wine of the most superior grade, or the vineyard that produces it.
Chartogne-Taillet | $$
Produced by a family that has been producing wine since before the 7th century. One of the originals to have started the GC movement. A quality high producer who expresses beautiful terroir and the finesse of high quality Champagne. An average age of 35-year-old vines, these wines are generally Chardonnay grapes dominated with Pinot Noir.
Pierre Peters | $$
This is a personal favorite of mine. They are sort of the new guy on the block, starting to make wine in 1919 and only producing 100% Chardonnay. They officially reached Grand Cru status in 1985 and are producing some of the best in the region. The wines are extraordinarily beautiful and elegant providing a deep level of complexity, racy acidity, and lushness that is unparalleled .
Marc Hébrart | $$
Jacquesson | $-$$$$$
A 200 year old house with a new twist on their wines. They two sons now producing Jacquesson wines have done away with the old traditions and started fresh. They make several different labels of their wine but with two primary focuses; creating the perfect blend for each years vintage wine and terroir expressed non-vintage wines. Try several different styles and find the best one for yourself.
This is a wine that won’t upset a crowd. Planning on having a big party but want to pour some kick ass wine? This is it. For champagne this is definitely a bigger and bolder style being 75% Pinot Noir but it is delicious. Look for these bottles magnum and grab the saber!
Lilbert-Fils | $$$
Geoffroy | $$
Jacques Selosse | $$$$$
DEMIER-ANSIOT | $$$
From a family that has been doing GC since before it was cool to do GC. Starting in 1746 they have always bottled and sold their own wine, sadly an unknown in the Champagne world. This bottle will be a little harder to find so if you are interested in their 3.5 hectare estate, call your local wine shop in advance. Especially considering they only make Grand Cru wine from %100 chardonnay and even riddle by hand. I would keep this in my room for myself when I have friends over.
Another classic producer but arguably one of the better GC rose that I have enjoyed. To produce their Blac de Rose’ they begin with a maceration of both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes . I find it provides both an elegance of blanc de blanc combined with the richness and complexity of rose. If you want something pink for the New Year, start here!
A wine made by the people. This is 100% family owned and operated. The family pulls together to do all of the farm work, hand harvesting, pressing and winemaking for all of their chardonnay at this grand cru vineyard. It is a small production but truly a fantastic, bright and fragrant champagne. I would put my name on this guaranteed, and am currently lucky to be pouring this as my house champagne at the InterContinental Los Angeles.
Okay, I had to put one blockbuster wine in here. Often referred to as the choice Champagne for the people of Champagne. It is said that a winemaker like this only comes along every couple of generations and Anselme Selosse has inspired the new young generation of wine growers. He started studying in Burgundy and now makes arguably the most expressive wines today. I will let this Champagne speak for itself but when you find it, you will know exactly what I mean.
NYE Timber | $$$
This isn’t Champagne but if want to impress your friends with the next coolest thing on the horizon? I have been hearing about sparkling wine from the UK for years now but until trying NYETimber I never thought twice about it. The same soil of Champagne dives deep under the ocean and delightfully pops back up in England! So why would they be growing Champagne there, right?! Find something new and unique and support a world that is coming up into the light.
Whatever bottle you end up with at the end of the night, New Year’s Eve is all about celebrating another rotation around the sun, having a good time, and enjoying loved ones. Have fun, be safe, and just enjoy life!
$ | 5-20
$$ | 20-40
$$$ | 40-60
$$$$ | 60-75
$$$$$ | 75+
Matt Arnall | Somminthesky