While interviewing David LeClaire, co-owner and general manager of Seattle’s Wine World, for the article we wrote on what sparkling wines to serve for New Years, he asked if I knew the term “Grower Champagne”?
Since it’s a term I’d not heard before, I’m guessing it’s one you might not know either. So I’ll define it.
Grower champagne: This is the wine made by champagne houses that is artisanal compared to than the mass production of the product that pops up on our grocery store shelves. Terroir is the focus of these wines — the growers that own the vineyards source the grapes for the wine from a single village, instead of combining the juice from grapes grown across the region.
These wines will be different every year based on the growing conditions, whereas the mass produced wine from the region will be consistently similar year after year. Grower champagnes are released younger than those that come from the larger Champagne houses, likely because the smaller entities don’t have the money to store the wine and age it.
LeClaire described the grower champagnes as having the most character. He said they are “perfect for the enthusiast, for someone who wants to try something new. This is for the geeks.” These wines won’t be found at Fred Meyer or Safeway, you’ll need to go into a quality wine shop. Prices start around $40. LeClaire said his favorites include Gaston Chiquet and Theirry Triolet.