Before I start my journey into Spain, I wanted to close out my trip through France with my favorite French wine – Champagne. I recently participated in a “Grower Champagne” tasting. Grower Champagne, I learned, is when the Champagne is produced at the same estate where the grapes are grown. The winemaker has complete control over the product from start to finish. I had never stopped to think about how those large Champagne houses, such as Veuve Clicquot or Perrier-Jouët could produce so much wine. Apparently, they source grapes from up to 80 different vineyards.
My local wine store – West Seattle Cellars – held the tasting and included 12 different champagnes for tasting.
The line-up included:
- Michel Genet Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs
- Michel Genet Brut Blanc de Blancs Esprit
- Claude Genet Brut Blanc de Blancs
- Agrapart & Fils Brut Les Sept Crus
- Agrapart & Fils Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Terriors
- Ployez-Jacquemart Extra Brut Rose
- Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvee de Reserve
- Gaston Chiquet Brut Tradition
- L. Aubry Fils Brut
- Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvee Sainte-Anne
- Camille Saves Brut Carte Blanche
- Paul Bara Brut Grand Rose
I was a bit intimidated by the spread, but I ended up making it through 8 of the 12. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the Michel Genet Extra Brut Blanc de blancs the most! I am more of a sweet tooth, so I thought I would prefer the sweeter champagnes, but I was happy to be proven wrong. The wine was straw yellow in color and had a yeasty and citrus nose. The palette was tart and crisp, but a touch savory. I could see myself pairing the wines with scallops – the sweet of the scallop and the dry bubbly would make for a nice treat.
I also enjoyed the L. Aubry Fils Brut. Similar to the other wines, it was very light yellow, almost clear. It had a nose of citrus and alcohols, with a hint of yeast and a palette of citrus, with a hint of sugars. I ended up buying a bottle of this one – originally planning to pair it with our Christmas Eve dinner – a beef tenderloin.
One other wine to note was the Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvee Sainte-Anne. This winery is young producer who takes a different approach with farming in his vineyard, and from my understanding he is taking a more holistic approach – and cultivating the old vines. The person pouring the wine was telling me that each year, the champagne he produces is even better than the last – so basically he is a rock star!
Now that I have a better understanding of champagne’s, I will have a soft spot in my heart for Grower Champagne. These producers work hard to make some pretty outstanding wines.
And with that sentiment, I raise my glass of bubbly to France and bid a fond adieu.
…and now off to Spain!