NYE: Stepping out of the ‘Bubble’ with Grower Champagne!
Keeping a few spare bottles of bubbles comes in handy, especially around the holidays for the unexpected guests swinging by, a gift in return for an unexpected present (Yikes! we hate that) but who doesn’t love bubbles?!
It may be one of the biggest and most powerful ‘brands’ in the world, with its master marketing, alluding to luxury and exclusivity. Dom Perignon and Louis Roederer’s Cristal have a considerable mention in rap songs, the Ace of Spades promoted by Jay-Z; it is present at formal affairs, whether business parties or New Year’s Galas; not to mention: Champagne is sexy!
And really, who does not want to be rich and sexy??
However, our intention is not to ramble on about rap songs about Champagne. We’ve all heard them, and I am even guilty of ‘singing’ along…in the car…by myself…
So in addition to the two desirable qualities we noted above, let’s add one more that supersedes the previous:
Let’s talk about a few uniquely stylistic grower champagnes that have recently blown our minds and we cant wait to share them. The absolutely fabulous news about these grower champagnes –‘Farmer Fizz’ (how’s that for elegance?) is that they are sometimes half the price of some of the big names, far more exclusive and just as good – or better!
Here are three we tasted lately and loved!
Arnaud Margaine ($40)– A complex blend of mostly Chardonnay with a generous splash of Pinot (10%). A. Margaine is located in Montagne de Reims, eastern Champagne. On top of the warm, toasted almond paste on the nose, baked green apples and chalky minerality followed. We had it as an aperitif with a smoked salmon spread from Robert’s in Woodside. Don’t get me started on Roberts; the ham…so good
Marie Courtin ‘Resonance’ ($55) — Aube, this producer is smack in the middle of the movement taking place with growers of Champagne, who are shifting from selling their fruit to large negociants, to seeing their fruit through to the bottle. The fruit from biodynamically farmed vineyard is fermented with native yeasts and includes very little intervention in the cellar. Refreshing malic acidity – green apples, floral notes and lemon rind. Quite different than the other two. However, the palate leads to a bit of stone fruit and crushed white rocks on the palate and brings a softer finish.
2009 Vilmart Cellier d’Or — has got a lot going on! But it had better; the price tag is around $100. Think of this wine as a Bollinger in basic style but throw in a healthy helping of funk. This champagne is weird, in a delicious way. All of Vilmart’s vintage wines are aged in wood but do not undergo malolactic. The combination of a slight wood note, no ML and champagnes being Chardonnay in majority, creates a unique, full and creamy mouthful while that fresh malic acidity is preserved. Chardonnay finesse to impress
Unlike large champagne houses, that source fruit from a number of different vineyards and craft their cuvees with a spice cabinet that the cellar becomes, grower champagnes are a purer expression of terroir, often coming from a single vineyard site and therefore wines in short supply.
Interested in trying one, or all three, of these? Champagnes have a guide on their label. The big producers use ‘Negociant Manipulant or ‘NM.’ Although there are several different categories, grower-producers use the Recoltant Manipulant category or simply ‘RM’ on the labels. You gotta look hard, but it’s there.
So although we love Moet any day, step out of that bubble (get it…bubble…), try something new on this holiday season and impress a few palates!