Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Moët & Chandon. Veuve Clicquot. Dom Pérignon. Some Champagne houses need no introduction, but there’s more than just the big brands to enjoy in Champagne. While these Grandes Marques typically buy their grapes from small growers, some of the small growers produce their own Champagne, known as growers Champagne or Récoltant-Manipulant (indicated with the initials RM on the bottle). “A Récoltant-Manipulant produces and markets his/her own Champagne using grapes exclusively sourced from their vineyards,” says Victoria Henson, Director of Bureau du Champagne UK. “RMs do not sell to maisons—they are independent,” she says.

Historically, this independence meant that growers Champagnes were harder to find on the global stage, but things are changing. “Over the years, growers have increasingly exported internationally,” says Henson. A trip to Champagne is another means of discovery. “There are 16,200 RMs registered. A good place to start is 19 Avenue de Champagne, a recently opened 860-square-foot boutique and immersive space that showcases up to one hundred grower wines and cooperatives, who share their know-how and [offer] tastings.”

A few growers Champagnes to try, according to the experts:

Laherte Frères Blanc de Blanc NV Champagne

Laherte Frères ticks all the boxes: sustainable, family owned and absolutely delicious,” says Dawn Davies, Buying Director at The Whisky Exchange.“With concentrated, complex fruit, these wines are like bubbly Burgundies and will definitely put a smile on your face.”

A Bergère Les Vignes de Nuit Extra Brut 2016

“A Bergère is a high-quality grower Champagne house based in the Côtes des Blancs region,” says Jeremy Lithgow, Master of Wine at Amathus. “A Bergère Les Vignes de Nuit is a single vineyard Chardonnay from vines planted in 1972. Very low dosage and five years lees ageing before release adds complexity to this silky Champagne with fine mousse and complex notes of lemon curd and baking spices.”

Domaine La Borderie De Quoi Te Meles Tu Blanc de Noirs NV

Nick Baker, Founder & Managing Director of The Finest Bubble recommends Domaine La Borderie De Quoi Te Meles Tu Blanc de Noirs NV: “[A] great single vineyard Blanc de Noirs from Cote des Bar, something like this is a super value,” says Baker. “For over 100 years, the Norman family sold their grapes to the big brands; then in 2013 they produced 6,000 bottles and now they are making over 20,000 bottles.”

Champagne Drappier Brut Nature Zero Dosage NV

“We are very much rooted in the local specificities,” says Charline Drappier, General Director of Drappier. “I am the eighth generation, and the story of my family is one of a pioneer Champagne house in the Aube. As a result, my grandparents always tried to express the local features as well as they could [and] my parents reinforced it with even more natural vinification (low to no sulfite, low to no sugar). We chose a pure yet generous style of Champagne, as a reflection of our environment and our family.”

Thierry Perrion Grand Cru Extra Brut 2018

“This is a wonderful bottle of Champagne, from winemakers who really know their stuff,” say Matt Landsberg, co-owner and assistant winemaker at 56 West Smithfield. “We only work with small producers, who have an organic approach to wine, and Thierry Perrion always delivers above and beyond. For people who enjoy a more complex sparkling wine with rich flavours yet fresh, balanced acidity, this bottle is an absolute steal.”

Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Grand Cru

“Paillard’s Champagnes offer up a brilliant, crystalline vision of great Bouzy terroir—a village in the Champagne region famed for great, fully ripe Pinot Noir,” says Justerini & Brooks’ Champagne Buyer Julian Campbell. “In the hands of sensitive and inquisitive winemakers like Antoine and Quentin, the wines emerge from the Bouzy terroir like golden nuggets; precise pure champagnes imbued with natural depth and richness but also tremendous freshness. To me, the qualities you find in Les Parcelles, a cuvee that hails from a number of parcels of old vines from exclusively Grand Cru vineyards, vinified in oak barrels, showcases all that is good about the new wave of young talented champagne vignerons and their ability to craft vinous wines of real character.”

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