Grower vs. Négotiant Champagne

I had the pleasure of attending a seminar on Grower vs. Négotiant Champagnes…what a treat! Our presenter was Jeff Hacker who works at Binney’s Beverage Depot in Des Plaines, Illinois.  Jeff has been in the industry for over 11 years.  Jeff gave us a look at the world of Champagne while we tasted 6 amazing bottles of bubbles.  Each tasting group – Blanc de Blancs, Blends, and Rosé- consisted of a Négociant and Grower champagne.

Champagne AOC Information/Statistics

Echelle des Crus– Champagne’s grading system- scores are based on grapes, soil, topography, and aspect

17 “Grands Crus” Villages (100% scores) “Premiers Crus” Villages (90-99% scores)

Location: 48th parallel- the northern most point of wine production.

Climate: Oceanic- steady rainfall, minimal seasonal temperature variation- average temperature is 50 degrees

Continental- optimal summer sunlight, prone to winter frosts

Varietals: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier = 99.9% of champagne

Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Arbane, Petit Meslier- less than 250 hectares total, may not be replanted, currently may be used in blends

Subregions of Champagne AOC:

Montagne de Reims- northernmost, Pinot Noir

Vallée de la Marne- near Epernay, Pinot Meunier

Côte des Blancs- Chardonnay territory

Côte de Sézanne, Côte de l’Aube, Vallée de la Vesle, Vallée de l’Ardre, AOC Rosé des Riceys

Dosage: Sweetness levels  ** First champagnes were made in a sweeter style than they are today. The measuring scale went from sweet to dry, which is why dry and extra dry are actually sweeter than brut categories! **Dosage is a mixture of sugar and wine added after the 2nd fermentation. **Residual sugar is the sugar remaining in the wine after fermentation.  It is measured in grams per liter. Below is the scale from driest to sweetest.

Brut Nature – 0-3 G/L          Extra Brut – 0-6 G/L           Brut – 0-12 G/L

Extra Dry – 12-17 G/L         Dry – 17-32 G/L         Demi-Sec – 32-50 G/L        Doux – 50+ G/L

Growers vs. Négotiants

Négociant- NM – 300+ Houses                                          Growers -RM – 4500+ Producers

Focus on “house” style/large producers                           Focus on terroir/small producers

Buy grapes in addition to using own                                 Produce only from own vines

Grapes bought from multiple areas                                  Single area expresses terroir

Goal- produce same taste every time,                              Goal- represent the “terroir”

every bottle- style over terroir                                          (land, soil, climate) terroir over style

Champagnes tasted at the seminar consisted of the following:

Blanc de Blancs- 100% Chardonnay

Négociant- Ruinart Blanc de Blancs NV  -vivid, racy, my favorite of the night!

Grower- Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut- lovely, expressive

Brut Blends- (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier)

Négociant- Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve

Grower- Louis Nicaise Premier Cru Brut

Rosé- (Still Pinot Noir added or extended maceration)

Négociant- Louis Roederer Brut Rosé

Grower- Henri Billiot Grand Cru Brut Rosé

Champagne Trivia/Facts

49,000,000 bubbles per 750 ML bottle of champagne! 30 bubbles per second emitted

Finer bubbles indicative of high quality champagne/ wider, larger bubbles sign of lesser quality

90psi- a bottle of champagne in under three times as much pressure as the tires on a car

Released at full speed, a cork can exit the bottle at 40mph!  Open slowly , bottle angled at 45 degrees, gently release the pressure, controlled opening prolongs bubble retention

Thank you, Jeff, for an informative, delicious evening!  The worst part of my job is spitting and dumping the wines at a tasting!  Too many superb champagnes…must go back and bring a few home to truly enjoy! Cheers!  Santé!






About sommeliersusie

Owner of Tasteful Adventures- private in-home wines tastings Boisset Wine Living Ambassador- private and corporate wine tastings and direct to consumer sales, corporate gifting, Wine Educator, Sommelier- Level 1 Court of Master Sommelier, BASSETT Certification, French Wine Scholar, Member Guild of Sommeliers
This entry was posted in #France, #Grand Cru, #Wine, #Wine Education, champagne, Wine Trivia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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