The team at Sip Champagnes give us the low down on the 101 of Grower Champagne including what it is, why you should be drinking Grower Champagne, where you can buy the best grower champagne here in the UK and of course, what to eat with Grower Champagne. Have a read through so you can introduce and pair Grower Champagne at your next dinner party!
The team at Sip Champagnes give us the low down on the 101 of Grower Champagne including what it is, why you should be drinking Grower Champagne, where you can buy the best grower champagne here in the UK and of course, what to eat with Grower Champagne. Have a read-through so you can introduce and pair Grower Champagne at your next dinner party!
Grower Champagnes, or Artisan Champagnes as they are sometimes termed, are sparkling wines created by producers in the Champagne region who grow their own grapes, before harvesting, vinifying and bottling their own wines.
The Champagne appellation covers some 34,300 hectares and produces around 300 million bottles of sparkling wine every year. It represents 9% of total worldwide sales of sparkling wines but over 30% in value.
The region of Champagne is cultivated by some 16,000 growers/farmers who own the land and grow the grapes. Many of these farmers sell their grapes exclusively to the 360 large Champagne Houses. These are the names of which you may well know: Moët et Chandon, Bollinger and Taittinger for example, along with many supermarket own-brands. These Grand Maisons rely on this large group of growers to cultivate the grapes for them so they can produce huge volumes of Champagne. These houses are what are called Negociant Manipulant, which means they can make Champagne by buying grapes from growers, (although many own vineyards themselves too) and they produce over 70% of all the Champagne that is sold.
However, there are around 2,500 of these growers who are classified as Recoltant Manipulant (Grower Champagne producers). These are men and woman who not only own their own vineyards to grow grapes but, crucially, they use these grapes to produce their own unique brand of Champagne.
Whilst the large Champagne Houses typically focus on creating a consistent style of Champagne by blending a variety of grapes from across the region, Grower Champagne tend to champion the idiosyncrasies that make their Champagnes unique – typically the unique terroir, grape selection and vinification techniques that result in a very specific style and expression of Champagne. This focus on viticulture has also had the added benefit of driving change in practices across the region as a whole, with producers looking to reduce and ultimately eradicate use of pesticide and herbicide in their vineyards, with many of the newer kids on the block having gone a step further still by moving to either organic or biodynamic production.
The last decade has seen the birth of a handful of truly groundbreaking grower producers with brilliant wines showcasing fabulously diverse terroir and vinification methods but, in spite of this, it is still the Grand Maisons that dominate sales in the UK market and typically the only wines you see lining supermarket shelves and restaurant menus.
The good news is that this is changing…
"One of the greatest culinary crimes of the 21st Century is that we just don't drink enough Champagne with food. We swig it down, passing pleasantries, occasionally nibbling the smallest morsel and take no notice of this vinous slice of joy. And yet it is a hugely versatile tool in our dinner party armoury. This fizzy fiesta ranges from light, lemon tart-like offerings to buttery brioche brimful wonders and everything in between. Which leads me to one of my favourite friday night treats - Champagne and Fish and Chips - yes you heard it here first! Champagne's natural acidity cuts through the fatty batter while the light palate compliments those delicate fishy flavours. Throw on a juicy couture velvet number, kick back and enjoy decadent heaven. But the fun doesn't stop there! One of the most surprising pairings I've ever had was a Rose de Saignee Champagne (aka pink fizz) with a beautifully rare fillet steak. This ultra fine cut is surprisingly delicate and the silken touch of the rose caresses it perfectly. When it comes to Champagne the world really is your oyster ... and don't even get me started on how well it goes with those!"
If you’d like a little inspiration, here are a few of our favourite food pairings…
Bonaire Terroirs - Crisp & zesty Grand Cru Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs. Perfect with oysters or light seafood dishes.
Famille Delouvin Semper Fidelis 14 - Gorgeously rich Meunier, partially from a perpetual reserve. Will work beautifully with a charcuterie board or antipasti.
Georges Remy Le Mont de Tauxieres 2016 - Stupendously powerful Pinot/Chardonnay blend from a single vineyard in the legendary village of Bouzy. Will easily take the place of a light-bodied red.
Not sure what you’re eating?
Artisan Introduction Case – 3 bottles, each different. See which works for you!
Sip Champagnes is a business championing the very best new names in the grower Champagne world. Through longstanding relationships and unrivalled knowledge, they have built the UK’s largest collection of grower Champagnes – some 60 producers and more than 250 individual Champagnes.
So, if you like Champagne or even if you don’t, this is the place to start a journey of discovery that will open your eyes to what can be achieved by a devoted winemaker in this exceptional appellation.
*Minimum purchase amount £50. Excludes on-sale items. Subscription plans are discounted for month 1 only.