Grower Champagne. It’s a buzz worthy term you hear being thrown around New York City’s eclectic dining scene. Chic spots like Air’s Champagne Parlor have extensive Grower Champagne lists. But what does it mean to be a Grower Champagne?
Grower Champagne is still Champagne. It follows the strict Appellation laws and growing practices. However, instead of being produced by a big Champagne house (think Moët, Veuve, and Pommery) it is produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards where the grapes are grown. In France, they use the term Récoltant-Manipulant which can be identified by an “RM” on the wine label.
The Difference Between Typical Champagne and Grower Champagne
Large champagne houses may use as many as 80 different vineyard plots to source their grapes to maintain an expected stylistic quality with each release.
However, Grower Champagnes tend to be more rich in the local elements of the terroir that they originate from. They often are sourced from a single vineyard or vineyard sites located near the house of production. This makes Grower Champagne more of a rare product. The growers let their terrior take the forefront in the style of the wine as opposed to a uniform house style which is consistent, identifiable, and unchanged year after year. When seeking out Grower Champagne, recent vintage years of note are 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2008.
Thomas M. Brems, CEO & Owner of Victorieux Champagne Imports explains that, “Growers do their own bottling and make their own labels, thus making this a true artisan product.” His company is focused on importing wines from producers with a commitment to sustainability. This includes the use of no pesticides, and the individual stories of the growers are an integral part of their brand. Most of the imports come from the southern Champagne Appellations of Côte de Sezanne, well known for its Chardonnay, and Côte de Bar, well known for its Pinot Noir. One of the Champagne families in his portfolio has been wine making since since 1599 (Arnaud Beaufort & Fils).
Currently, there are over 19,000 independent Champagne growers. Around twenty-six percent of these growers produce Champagne from their own grapes. Last year, 13% of all exports from Champagne were from wine growers and cooperatives. That is an 8% increase since 2014.
This is a statistic that wine importer David Valauri of Coeur de Cuvée can live with. As the sole importer for Delavenne Père & Fils — one of the few Grand Cru grower houses in Bouzy — these Champagnes are extremely nuanced and representative of their commitment to preserving the integrity of their land. Another fantastic aspect of these Grower Champagnes is you can even visit producers like Champagne Delavenne simply by making an appointment via email on their website! Just make sure to brush up on your French!
Although grower champagne is not consistent in style year after year, that’s actually the real beauty in it. When you try to make a champagne something it’s not, you lose its innate character and charisma. There’s a seductive quality that Grower Champagne possesses, and its nuances and subtle differences make it all the more enjoyable. After all, who doesn’t like a little spontaneity?
Looking for some nice Grower Champagne to try? Here are a few producers to seek out. However, these are just a few of the growers available and as the popularity of Grower Champagne increases, more will soon become available for retail across the United States.
- Franck Bonville
- Roger Brun
- Charles Mignon
- Delavenne Père & Fils
- Roger Coulon
- Collard Picard
- David Léclapart
- Benoît Lahaye
- Roses de Jeanne
- Lelarge Pugeot
- Yannick Prévoteau
- Vilmart & Cie
- Pierre Péters
- Agrapart & Fils
- Marc Hébrart
- Jean Laurent