There’s something stirring in champagne. Perhaps it’s not a full blown revolution just yet, but it’s something no champagne lover can ignore: the ever increasing interest in what are called Grower Champagnes.
If you haven’t come across them yet and have never tried them, then I, for one, think you should. Here’s what it’s all about and what you need to know....
The change is happening everywhere if you take the time to look around you –
Micro breweries producing local beers that are more than a match, flavour-wise at least, for the giants of the industry;
Farmers’ markets where you can discover some fabulous produce and meet the fascinating ‘real’ people who produce or grow it, instead of struggling round the same old supermarkets shelves every week for mass-produced produce.
Well, the same thing’s happening in champagne and that’s where grower champagne comes in....
It’s the return of the small man, or woman, because more and more people are looking for something that gives them not just good value, but a sense of being.... what’s the best word? Perhaps ‘honest’ or ‘authentic’.
One of the most colourful characters I have met in Champagne is Philippe Brun of champagne Roger Brun In Ay. Going to a tasting at his place is always an experience to remember, not just because of the excellent champagnes – which he serves in very generous measures – but also for the great stories he tells; proof once again that it’s stories that sell, not just a list of all the technical qualities of a wine
I have a couple videos of Philippe in full flight; the first is about the worst and the best bottles of wine he has ever enjoyed ( and neither were champagne!)
The second, which I’ll be posting a a few days, is about a wee joke he pulled on an audience of journalists and other members of the wine trade when he gave a tasting of his champagnes.
I love Philippe’s mischievous sense of fun. The wine industry is full of very knowledgeable and likeable people, but there is a tendency for some ‘experts’ to get carried away with their vocabulary and analysis of the wine, so it’s no bad thing occasionally to make sure they keep their feet on the ground.
Here's the first video. If you have any stories about your best or worst bottle of champagne or other wine, then do leave a comment here on on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MyManInChampagne
One of the most interesting parts of my work is the consulting I do for the SGV (Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne) which is the body that represents many of the small grower champagnes.
I get to meet all sorts of little-known champagne makers all needing help to improve their marketing and increase their sales. Although there is certainly an increasing interest in Grower Champagnes amongst wine lovers who are looking for something other than the big brands, the issue for the producers is that there are hundreds of them, all trying to find a place in the market for their products.
That why I'm always encouraging them to think of what it is that makes their champagnes special enough to stand out from all the others. Many of the smaller producers struggle to find this point of differentiation but every now and then I meet someone who immediately stands out from the crowd and recently I met one who fitted straight into that category.