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Grower Champagnes get thumbs up in first Decanter panel

Decanter has published the results of its first-ever panel tasting of grower Champagnes – and the results are extremely positive.

‘Polished, complete, refined and elegant’: Serge Mathieu, Cuvée Tradition

The panel of international Champagne experts, including Essi Avellan MW, Michael Edwards and the Wine Society’s Marcel Orford-Williams, was surprised by the sophistication of the wines.

The results are announced in the January 2012 issue of Decanter, published next week.

Tom Stevenson MW, regional chair for Champagne at the Decanter World Wine Awards, said it was no secret he had prejudices against grower Champagnes, as they could be ‘quite rustic’, but he said he was ‘very excited by those more elegant wines.’

Other panellists agreed, Giles Fallowfield for example, referred to the refreshing change from the ‘dull conformity of the grandes marques.’

Grower Champagnes are defined as those made by récoltants–manipulants – about 2000 growers who make their own wines as well as selling grapes to the major Champagne houses.

With increasingly fast communications between London, Paris and Champagne, there is a burgeoning interest in these wines, Edwards says in his introduction to the panel tasting.

‘For the remarkable change in consumer perception of Champagne since 2007 now centres on the increased presence of top growers on the lists of fine retailers and restaurateurs across the developed world.’

The panel praised the wines for their character, and for their value for money.

‘For individuality and terroir, consumers should focus on grower Champagnes’, Edwards said, while others stressed that they need be no more expensive than their equivalent grands marques.

Panellists were also surprised by the fact the tasting produced no 5-star or Decanter Award wines.

This was due to the stylistic differences in the wines, Orford-Williams said, leading each taster to choose different wines as their stand-out bottles.

And that diversity highlights the difference between branded non-vintage wines and these grower Champagnes, he added.

Decanter magazine is on newsstands next Wednesday 7 December.

Subscribe to Decanter this month and save up to 44%.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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