The biggest change over the past decade has been the rise of “grower” Champagnes from unknown to ultra-popular. Essentially the opposite of the wines made by the big houses, these come from individual, family-owned vineyards, often farmers turned winemakers who used to sell their grapes to the grandes marques. Grower Champagnes aren’t necessarily better or worse than those from the big houses, but they do tend to reflect vineyard character more directly. (They can be identified by the letters RM on the label, which stand for récoltant-manipulant, meaning 
a producer who grows grapes and makes wine only from his or her own vines.) These 10 winners from our tastings at F&W are more than worth seeking out.—Ray Isle

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