It's the most famous street in Champagne: The Avenue de Champagne in Epernay. For hundreds of years it's been the preserve of big houses such as Moët & Chandon, Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, De Venoge and a few others, but recently a few new names have started to appear. Names that you may not have heard of yet, but the chances are that you will hear of them soon.
Yes, the grower champagnes are starting to move into the most illustrious piece of real estate in town.
First was André Bergère who bought an elegant, but neglected house and did a magnificent job of restoring it to its former glory. The company has it's winery and most of its 40 or so hectares of vines just south of the Côte des Blancs in the village of Fèrebrianges. It won't surprise you to hear they make some excellent blanc de blancs champagnes.
Champagne Michel Gonet hails from Avize and as well as champagnes they have interest in other vineyard regions around France making them quite a diverse company.
Collard Picard is from Villers sous Chatillon in the Vallée de la Marne. Not a place that's on everyone's route so their new boutique on the Avenue de Champagne should get them a lot more attention.
It's been a whle since I tasetd their chanpagnes but I do remember their fabulous rosé: a blend of 50% Pinot Meunier and 50% Pinot Noir with a wonderfully soft taxture and rich fruity taste. Once tasted, it was almost everyones's favourite.
It's good to see some of these smaller producers with the vision and ambition to move on to the Avenue. Their champagnes bear comparision with almost all the better known brands; all that was lacking was big enough thinking, but obviously that's beginning to change, at least for some.