What is ‘Grower Champagne’ and why should we love it?
When choosing a bottle of Champagne it is very easy to be seduced by expensive and luxurious marketing from the big international name brands such as Moët et Chandon or Veuve Clicquot. But there is much more to this beguiling French wine; where small production and high quality are celebrated over brand identity. These are the Grower Champagnes.
‘Grower Champagne’ is a term that describes Champagne produced by the estates that grow the grapes on their own land. Historically, most growers in Champagne would sell their grapes to brands such as the aforementioned Moët et Chandon, or Tattinger etc..; these brands will use grapes sourced from up to eighty different vineyards across the region to create their consistent ‘house style’. Grower Champagne producers tend to be much more terroir focussed with greater depth of flavour, complexity and subtle nuances in aroma & flavour often not found – or desired – in some of the larger Champagne houses.
One of our absolute favourite Grower Champagnes is the Lete-Vautrain Cote 204 Brut non-vintage. This delicious Champagne is made by husband and wife team Robert L’Ete and Lilliane Vautrain from all their own fruit grown on their 8 hectare estate. Some of their vines are overlooked by the impressive Château-Thierry American Monument built to commemorate fallen American soldiers of World War One. The monument with the vines below is called ‘Hill 204’ because during that conflict a military map of the area was drawn up by American forces; the landscape was divided up into strategic areas and arbitrarily numbered. Today, Lete-Vautrain ‘Cote 204’ Brut non-vintage features that number on every bottle.
This fantastic wine is a traditional blend of 50% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay & 25% Pinot Noir. Three years aged, this wine has a fresh and elegant citrus bouquet with a succulent peach and apricot character leading to intense notes of red apple and peach. The finish is long with hints of dried fruits. The perfect aperitif or pair it with fresh white flaky fish dishes. This will also provide a great accompaniment to any celebration.