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Most Champagne has traditionally been made by the large houses, who commonly buy large numbers of grapes – but grower Champagne is different.

grower champagne, marc hebrart

Grower Champagne is gaining a higher reputation in the UK and US. Credit: Marc Hebrard Champagne.

Grower Champagne at-a-glance

  • 15,800 growers in Champagne, most of whom sell their grapes to other houses

  • Around 4,000 growers make their own Champagne

  • Growers own 90% of Champagne appellation vineyards

  • Grower Champagne accounts for nearly one in five bottles produced

  • But, it only makes up 1.4% of Champagnes sales in the UK, and 4.9% in the US

Quality and styles vary considerably, so it really pays to get to know producers and delve into Champagne’s sub-regions.

What Champagne expert Peter Liem says:

There are 4,000 grower estates making their own Champagnes. Some have done this since the 19th Century, but their ranks have swelled in recent years.

The best growers produce some of the finest wines in the appellation, and they have been at the forefront of a region-wide movement towards Champagne vineyard rehabilitation.

But, it’s a fallacy to say that grower Champagne is somehow intrinsically better. The big houses arguably retain the upper hand in consistency of quality.

Grower Champagne can have a wide variety of expressions and, in their contemporary sense of aesthetics, these wines can often challenge the orthodox idea of what Champagne is. They often have concentrated fruit flavours and intense, almost forceful personalities.

And they are not automatically synonymous with with terroir-driven Champagne. While progress is slowly being made, the majority of grower estates continue to farm as industrially as ever – as do many houses.

The leading growers, though – those who choose to be forward-thinking and meticulous in the way they work in their vineyard and cellars – are principal voices in the contemporary dialogue. They are instrumental in moving the appellation forward.

These words originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of Decanter magazine. Subscribe to Decanter here. 

Peter Liem is a wine writer who lives in the Champagne region. He also publishes champagneguide.net.


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