A Fond Adieu to France with a Grower Champagne Tasting

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:

  1. Michel Genet Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs
  2. Michel Genet Brut Blanc de Blancs Esprit
  3. Claude Genet Brut Blanc de Blancs
  4. Agrapart & Fils Brut Les Sept Crus
  5. Agrapart & Fils Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs Terriors
  6. Ployez-Jacquemart Extra Brut Rose
  7. Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvee de Reserve
  8. Gaston Chiquet Brut Tradition
  9. L. Aubry Fils Brut
  10. Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvee Sainte-Anne
  11. Camille Saves Brut Carte Blanche
  12. 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!

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