Surprise Your Loved One With Growers Champagne

Surprise Your Loved One With Growers Champagne

Surprise Your Loved One With Growers Champagne


Your relationship is special, whether it’s a best friend or true love. So why give them the same champagne as everyone else?

When most people think of champagne, they think of the big houses – your Veuve Clicquots and Krugs – but the heart of the area, often the real value, comes from the so-called champagne growers – who grow their own grapes and make Massachusetts Jose Luis Betancur, beverage director and sommelier at the Tuscan Brand Restaurant Group in State and New Hampshire, says they make their own wines. When he visited the region, he was fascinated by winemakers who made special wines with thought and care.

Try champagne in small quantities this year.


Grower Champagnes stands in stark contrast to the region’s established brands, who source grapes from many farmers — sometimes hundreds — to make their wines. Maybe you’ve never heard of these smaller brands, but you can trust that they go through the same rigorous process as the familiar names, says Betancur, who sources many of his special bottles from distributor Vineyard Road.

Essentially, these small-production wines are hard to find, but you can take it easy yourself and shop at fatcork, a Seattle-based specialist in grown champagne that ships to most states. One thing I particularly like about them – aside from the well-chosen sparkling wines, of course – is that their wines come with a handy description card for each selection, with witty celebratory suggestions and information about the grower and wine information. Every time you open a shipment, it’s like an extra gift.

Many grower champagnes are made by third and fourth generation vintners.

Fat Cork

While their champagne club is the obvious choice, giving you the chance to sip bubbles with your sweetheart year-round, fatcork also offers a variety of bottles and ships in Seattle retail – most for less than what you’d pay for the big names . If you can’t wait for delivery, walk into a nice wine shop and ask for a glass of “Grower” champagne. You show a deeper understanding of sparkling wine – and a willingness to take risks. Here are some things to look for, but don’t be limited by this list.

Christophe Mignon, Champagne Natural Champagne: It’s hard to find Champagne made from 100% Pinot Noir, but fifth-generation farmer Mignon is committed to growing grapes—and natural farming methods that go well beyond biodynamic methods into homeopathy. Not the typical dose that completes most champagnes, rich but also lively – does that describe your relationship? ($60)

Didier Ducos Millesime 2011 Extra Brut: The husband and wife team of Nicolas and Clotilde Didier is the fourth generation to care for Didier-Ducos. This blend is more than half the size of a Chardonnay and has a lovely toasted brioche flavor with a hint of honey at the same time. It’s a low-dose wine, which means it’s very bright. ($78)

Growers Champagne is as unique as your friendship.

Fat Cork

Pierre Gerbais Champagne, Extra Dry Food de Celles: The fourth-generation Champagne house is currently headed by Aurelien Gerbais, who is in his 20s and is responsible for managing vines older than himself. The estate has been organic since the 1990s, when Aurelien’s grandmother fell ill from the pesticides and fungicides used on the vines. Subtle, with some floral and mineral notes, as well as pear, a mix of half Pinot Noir, quarter Pinot Blanc and one quarter Chardonnay. (50 U.S. dollars)

A. Levasseur Rue de Sorbie Brut: This lively and lemony option comes from second-generation winemakers who are currently switching to organic. 80% Meunier Pinot Noir, this wine is slightly rounded with strawberry flavors. ($68)

Gimonnet-Oger Grande Reserve Rosé Premier Cru: Nothing says Valentine’s Day like a rosé champagne – this wine has just the right amount of style and finesse. Mainly Chardonnay, only 10% Pinot Noir (it gets a lovely blush color), the alluring raspberry floral nose is something to think about for hours. Now headed by Jean-Luc Gimonnet, his family has been working on these vineyards for almost 400 years. This is true proof of love. ($65)

Hervieux-Dumez Blanc de Blancs Natural: This fourth-generation vintner is focused on biodiversity, with chicks roaming the vines to keep weeds and pests at bay, and bees buzzing happily through the plantation. This terroir is on full display in this wine, which smells and tastes like spring blooming meadows. It’s the perfect picnic wine, whether in front of a raging fire or on the beach.

Champagne MoutarPere & Fils, Brut Prestige Rosé: The fourth generation is preparing to take over this house in the Cote des Bas area. Think luscious raspberries, thanks to a Pinot Noir-dominant blend. (50 U.S. dollars)

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