Grower Champagne Talks

Grower Champagne is not only interesting for what’s in the bottle, but for the way it challenges the idea of terroir for this famous wine region.  It seems that a small group of RM (Récoltant-Manipulant ) Champagne producers have gained a strong following in Australia, even though in their home country they are not that well known.  I will not forget the first time I tasted the Champagnes of Chartogne-Taillet, Vouette & Sorbee, Larmandier-Bernier, Laherte-Freres, Egly-Ouriet and Bereche et Fils.  I was at a Champagne tasting where RM Champagnes were lined up alongside much more famous labels, and I was astounded by what I can only describe as their authentic character.  These wines challenged my palate unlike the other Champagnes.  Instead of a house style, these wines seemed more like Burgundy wines in expressing a vineyard or villages terroir, there was a precision to the character of the wine, and maybe that was it, they seemed more like wines from Champagne, rather than a Champagne that assumed its bubbles automatically made it special.  However, as a fan of these small producers’ wines I have found that anytime I talk with passion about RM Champagnes it can create friction, suddenly the conversation becomes a conflict of the mainstream versus the alternative, the status quo versus the new philosophers, and it is a reactionary dichotomy that I haven’t witnessed for any other winemaking region or style.

RM Champganes. Biodynamics. Wild Yeast Ferments. Terroir Character.

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