Ring in 2011 with a grower Champagne celebration

Ninety percent of Champagne is made by houses like Moët et Chandon and G.H. Mumm. The other
10 percent comes from growers, who are essentially farmers who make wine from the fruits of their labor.

In spite of their relatively small output, grower producers have become very trendy in the last decade, even though many have been around for several generations. As individuals, their quantity varies but compared to the big houses, nearly all of them are the little guys.

Since grower producers work with a limited production they have more control over all aspects of the winemaking process and the quality is often quite good. However, this is not always the case and, despite the huge pool of quality Champagne made by the growers, many of the houses like Jaquesson and Bollinger, make extraordinary wines.
With New Year’s Eve upon us, many of you are probably looking for a bottle or two of bubbly.
In the spirit of helping out the little guy, why not select a grower Champagne this year instead of old reliable. Here are three that are sure to please.

Lancelot-Pienne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Cuvee de la Table Ronde, NV: Lancelot-Pienne was born in 1967, after the marriage of Bridgette Pienne and Albert Lancelot. Albert’s grandfather Jean-Baptiste grew vines in the town of Cramant at the beginning of the 20th century. Four generations later, Gilles Lancelot presides over this unassuming yet wonderful domaine. Composed entirely of Chardonnay from the 2002, 2004 and 2005 vintages, this is a rich, almost unusually bold wine for Cramant, with roasted almonds, toffee and red apple fruit. Suggested
retail: $45

Champagne Stéphane Coquillette Brut, Carte D’Or 1er Cru, NV: Stéphane Coquillette comes from a long line of winemakers in Champagne, but instead of staying in the family business, he cut the cord and formed his own company. Located in the Côtes des Blancs, his grapes come from four villages, including the Chouilly grand cru where is stationed. Made from grand and premier cru fruit, this is a very tasty treat with freshly baked croissant and almond aromas, spry minerality, and apple fruit tones that come together and burst with flavor on the mid-palate. Suggested retail: $53.99

Champagne Roger Coulon Brut, Tradition 1er Cru, NV: Today, Eric and Isabelle Coulon run this estate that has been in the Coulon family since 1806. The holdings have expanded over the last two centuries to include 27 acres of vineyards in five villages. Employing a heavy dose of pinot meunier, 50 percent, this Champagne is elegant, subtle and delicious with hints of cream, brioche, buttered nuts and lemon. Suggested retail: $54.99

Have a happy New Year. Remember the old adage: a taxi or hotel is way cheaper than a DUI so please, know your limits and if you shouldn’t drive, don’t.

Ninety percent of Champagne is made by houses like Moët et Chandon and G.H. Mumm. The other
10 percent comes from growers, who are essentially farmers who make wine from the fruits of their labor.

In spite of their relatively small output, grower producers have become very trendy in the last decade, even though many have been around for several generations. As individuals, their quantity varies but compared to the big houses, nearly all of them are the little guys.

Since grower producers work with a limited production they have more control over all aspects of the winemaking process and the quality is often quite good. However, this is not always the case and, despite the huge pool of quality Champagne made by the growers, many of the houses like Jaquesson and Bollinger, make extraordinary wines.

With New Year’s Eve upon us, many of you are probably looking for a bottle or two of bubbly.

In the spirit of helping out the little guy, why not select a grower Champagne this year instead of old reliable. Here are three that are sure to please.

Lancelot-Pienne Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Cuvee de la Table Ronde, NV: Lancelot-Pienne was born in 1967, after the marriage of Bridgette Pienne and Albert Lancelot. Albert’s grandfather Jean-Baptiste grew vines in the town of Cramant at the beginning of the 20th century. Four generations later, Gilles Lancelot presides over this unassuming yet wonderful domaine. Composed entirely of Chardonnay from the 2002, 2004 and 2005 vintages, this is a rich, almost unusually bold wine for Cramant, with roasted almonds, toffee and red apple fruit. Suggested
retail: $45

Champagne Stéphane Coquillette Brut, Carte D’Or 1er Cru, NV: Stéphane Coquillette comes from a long line of winemakers in Champagne, but instead of staying in the family business, he cut the cord and formed his own company. Located in the Côtes des Blancs, his grapes come from four villages, including the Chouilly grand cru where is stationed. Made from grand and premier cru fruit, this is a very tasty treat with freshly baked croissant and almond aromas, spry minerality, and apple fruit tones that come together and burst with flavor on the mid-palate. Suggested retail: $53.99

Champagne Roger Coulon Brut, Tradition 1er Cru, NV: Today, Eric and Isabelle Coulon run this estate that has been in the Coulon family since 1806. The holdings have expanded over the last two centuries to include 27 acres of vineyards in five villages. Employing a heavy dose of pinot meunier, 50 percent, this Champagne is elegant, subtle and delicious with hints of cream, brioche, buttered nuts and lemon. Suggested retail: $54.99

Have a happy New Year. Remember the old adage: a taxi or hotel is way cheaper than a DUI so please, know your limits and if you shouldn’t drive, don’t.

Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant.

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