5 Great Champagnes You Haven't Heard Of Yet

The small vineyard growers that are rivalling Grandes Marques

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The market for grower Champagnes – created by small vintners using only their own grapes – is, appropriately, growing. “More and more customers are interested in them,” says Remi Costecalde, manager at London shop and bistro Champagne+Fromage, “and good restaurants are serving them, too.”

There’s a reason. “It’s a more personal Champagne,” he says. “Larger houses will buy in grapes and juices from elsewhere in the Champagne region. The grower Champagne maker will grow all the grapes, oversee the two different fermentations, the bottling – everything.” And the result? “A very good quality for the price.”

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The organic nature of grower Champagne makes it trickier for estates to achieve a signature “house style”, year on year. “It’s inevitably more difficult for winemakers to keep the same taste or, in the case of rosé, the same colour,” adds Costecalde. “But, overall, they do it very well. And in our blind tastings, grower Champagne has proved a big hit, often beating the grandes marques.”

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To begin exploring the characterful world of grower Champagne, seek out bottles bearing the letters RM (Récoltant-Manipulant), which distinguishes it from wine made with grapes from a co-operative, via the traditional négociant system (where a merchant sells other growers’ produce under his own name).

Alternatively, start with our choice of five of the best, accompanied by Costecalde’s tasting notes.

champagneplusfromage.co.uk

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1 | Lacroix Cuvée Reserve (left to right)

"Made with 80 per cent black grapes, there’s wonderful red and black fruit flavour on the palate and some toasty undertones. Quite a lot of length for a non-vintage, and a sweet texture. Pair it with a mild blue cheese, such as bleu d’auvergne.”

£34

2 | Philippe Dechelle Champagne Cuvée Prestige  

"An award-winning wine given a star in the 2014 Hachette guide. Equal parts Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, it’s a very fruity, warm Champagne with a rich mousse. Splendid with a soft cheese such as Brillat-Savarin.”

£27
 

3 | Pertois-Moriset Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru RC  

"A Blanc de Blancs made with 100 per cent Chardonnay grapes. Quite dry, with well balanced acidity, a lot of citrusy flavour and a long length. Ideal with a fresh goat’s cheese, or a hard camomile cheese such as comté.”

£34
 

4 | Furdyna Brut Rosé nv

"This is blanc de noirs, 100 per cent pinot noir, unusual with rosé. Made using the traditional saignée (‘bleeding’) method leaving the skin of the grapes in contact with the juice during the first fermentation. This gives a richer Champagne than traditional rosé (made by adding red wine at the end). Serve with cured meat and spicy foods.”

£32
 

5 | Colin Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Vintage 2005

"For Champagne to be vintage, it must be kept on lees [special shelves] for a minimum three years. The Colin has been for four-and-a-half years, and the result is a beautiful gold colour with the citrusy kick of Chardonnay, honey and brioche on the palate. Perfect with scallops, shellfish – and cinnamon.”

£52

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