Probably the hottest trend in Champagne right now is small-production "grower" Champagnes. Unlike the grandes marquesfamous houses such as Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët and Mummwhich source grapes from hundreds of different, independently owned vineyards, grower Champagnes are made with grapes from a single estate. Traditional Champagnes are valued for their consistency, which they achieve through blending; grower Champagnes are prized more for their individuality and vineyard-driven character. (Both approaches can produce superb wine, of course.) Here are five top-quality grower bottles available around the country.
1. Pierre Peters Cuvée Reserve Blanc de Blancs NV ($60)
2. Larmandier-Bernier Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru Brut NV ($65)
This all-Chardonnay Champagne has rapier-like acidity and focus, partly thanks to a very low dosage (the small amount of sweetened wine added after a Champagne's second fermentation). It's produced biodynamically by the husband-and-wife team of Pierre and Sophie Larmandier.
3. René Geoffroy Rosé de Saignée Brut NV ($70)
This luscious rosé Champagne is created using the traditional (and time-consuming) saignée method, in which the winemaker bleeds off the pink wine from the tank of fermenting Pinot Noir grapes.