One of my most cherished memories was buying a bottle of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne from a pastry store off the Champs-Elysées and drinking it, sans flute, underneath La Tour Eiffel as it twinkled. Something about the delicate bubbles and aromatic richness of Pinot Noir made it one of those wine memories that you will never forget. I was hooked on Rosé Champagne and have gone out of my way to make it an indulgence that I can’t live without.
Fast forward ten years and I’m at a Champagne tasting with a focus on Grower Champagnes when I realize I have not been drinking “outside the box” when it comes to Champagne. Grower Champagnes are also known as Les Champagnes de Vignerons and they are quickly gaining in popularity with wine enthusiasts and sommeliers alike. These Champagnes are growing in popularity due to the fact they are more terrior driven than the big brands, which leads to more complex and dynamic flavors.
Most popular high-end Champagnes, such as my beloved Laurent-Perrier and the ubiquitous Veuve Clicquot are from large Champagne houses that source their grapes from many different vineyards. Though this blending between vineyards, vintages and grape varietals leads to a consistency of style it also doesn’t allow the expressiveness of these smaller producers. It may be a bit of a leap of faith to try Champagne that is a bit more off the beaten path but you will most certainly be happy that you did.
At that tasting I found a Rosé that made me really appreciate the quality and uniqueness one can find in a Grower Champagne. The Vilmart & Cie Cuvee Rubis Premier Cru Rosé perhaps has now taken the place of my beloved Laurent-Perrier. This full-bodied Rosé from the Montagne de Reims is a gem that is layered with flavors of candied fruit, strawberries, and sweet spice. This wine has bold flavor and a long lingering finish that can stand up to food but it’s bright salmon color begs to be served with strawberries. The ‘Rubis’ is a blend of 90-percent Pinot Noir and 10-perecent Chardonnay grapes that come from the house of Vilmart’s 11ha of biodynamically farmed vineyards.
The next time you pick up a bottle of Champagne try and think outside the box and try a Grower Champagne. Unique and expressive these wines are often a better value than the big houses and are truly a treat!