Small-batch Champagnes from the source.
The Champagne world has long been dominated by a handful of big-name négociants, who buy grapes from hundreds of small growers and blend them to achieve a consistent house style.
There’s nothing wrong with this practice, of course. But lately, many independent grape growers have begun producing their own bubbly.
Because the grapes come from their own estates and the wine is made in small batches, “grower” Champagne is often more distinctive and terroir-driven and a great pour for impressing your friends around the festive holidays.
You can identify a grower Champagne by the tiny “RM” on its label (versus “NM” for négociants). Here are a few good ones to try >
Egly-Ouriet Vignes de Vrigny ($53) Pinot Meunier, typically a supporting grape, is the star in this crazy-flavorful gem made solely from the variety (binnys.com)
L. Aubry Fils Rosé ($51) The Aubrey brothers have gained a reputation for their unique and nervy wines, including this seriously sophisticated rosé Champagne (saratogawine.com)
Marc Hebrart Cuvee de Reserve Brut ($43) The village of Mareuil is noted for its distinctive Pinot Noir, the grape that dominates this ripe-yet-racy cuvée (wineaccess.com)
Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Premier Cru Brut ($42) A Chardonnay specialist, Gimonnet takes advantage of its old vines to produce this blanc de blancs. The nonvintage brut is creamy, full and polished (jjbuckley.com)