Grower-Producer, Récoltant-Manipulant, Farmer Fizz call it what you want; they all translate to a wine made by families who maintain and own their own vineyards in Champagne. It might not sound like that big of a deal, but when you think of large corporations buying up the majority of grapes grown by farmers, you’ll begin to see the Grower-Producer as the voice of the forgotten. These boutique wines truly represent the villages where they are created. Grower-Producer Champagnes also manage to capture a very distinct terroir-driven flavor profile, rarely found when drinking Champagnes crafted from the larger corporate-controlled houses.
When searching for a bottle of Grower-Producer Champagne, look for a tiny RM on the label; often you will see a person’s name branding the bottle. As a last resort, you can ask your neighborhood wine merchant to pick one out for you.
Deciphering the Champagne label:
· NV (Non Vintage): A wine made from blending multiple vintages of Champagne, resulting in a consistent house style.
· RM (Récoltant-Manipulant): A term used on Champagne labels to indicate a Grower-Producer.
· Blanc de Blancs: Champagne only made from the white Chardonnay grape.
· Blanc de Noirs: Champagne only made from black grapes.
· Special Club Prestige Cuvée: A special organization only Grower-Producers can participate in, always representing the best vintage wine the house produces.
· Grand Cru: This status is given to grapes grown in the favorable conditions of 17 Grand Cru villages spread across Champagne.
Unfortunately, finding Grower-Producer Champagne can become quite the challenge.
However we are in luck, Hi-Time Wine Cellar in Costa Mesa has a Champagne selection that would make any Sommelier green with envy. Below are just a few Grower-Producer Champagnes hiding in their wine cellar.
Hi-Time Wine Cellar, Grower-Producer Champagne highlights:
- J. Lassalle – Brut, Chigny-Les-Roses Premier Cru 2005, $69.98
Winemaker Angéline Templier crafts one of the most appetizing Grower-Producer Champagnes I have had the joy of tasting. Breakfast pasty, sugar cookies and powdered sugar filled my imagination the last time I sampled this cherished wine.
Paul Bara – Brut Rosé, “Special Club”, Bouzy Grand Cru 2009, $92.98
Extremely rare, pours with a full mousse consumed by dried red currant and wild rose. Pair this wine with fish entrées at the dinner table.
Pierre Péters – Brut Blanc de Blancs, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Grand Cru NV, $52.98
Pierre Péters is situated dead center inside the famous Grand Cru Village Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. This Blancs de Blanc has the acidic precision of a laser, immediately expressing tart citrus flavors making it a perfect aperitif wine.