Champagne has long been associated with celebration, luxury and style.

However, if champagne is opulent, then grower-produced champagne is even more exclusive.

Due to the high cost of production, few growers are able to produce their own champagnes. In recent years, more growers have begun exporting their wines, leading to an explosion of interest in the exclusive, often hard-to-find and exquisite grower champagnes.

So how do you identify a grower champagne? Simple. If you see “RM” — which stands for “récoltant manipulant” — on the front label of the bottle followed by a registration number, this means the champagne was made by the grower of the grapes.

Produced with an intimate understanding of the grapes and the terroir — the French term for the confluence of weather, soil and aspect that gives a vineyard an identifiable character — grower champagne is boutique and artisanal. 

According to Joshi Pitman of Champagne FX, grower champagnes are somewhat drier than the better-known brands as they have a lower dosage (less added sugar).

Today’s palate is gravitating towards drier bubbles, making grower champagnes a fabulous choice for any occasion.

Pitman also recommends trying the champagnes of Egly-Ouriet, Agrapart & Fils, and De Sousa. These labels are often hard to find, but they are worth the search.

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Egly-Ouriet

Champagne Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV

Single bottle price: $125.00

Egly-Ouriet is a label that has developed a cult status for devotees around the world. Located in Ambonnay, north-eastern France and with sister vineyards in Bouzy and Verzenay — grand cru, pinot noir areas —  these champagnes are pinot-dominant, rich, powerful and complex, with deep colours, decadent aromas and explosive, layered characteristics in the mouth.

Champagne Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV

Champagne Egly-Ouriet Grand Cru Brut Tradition NV

Agrapart & Fils

Champagne Agrapart Terroir’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru NV

Single bottle price: $110.00

Famous for its cuvees of 100 per cent chardonnay, Agrapart & Fils is at the very top of the game, awarded the much-coveted three-star rating in La Revue du Vin de France’s Le Guide des Meilleurs Vins de France. Malolactic fermentations are employed to round out the intensity of these mineral-driven champagnes.

Champagne Agrapart Terroir’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru NV

Champagne Agrapart Terroir’s Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru NV

De Sousa

Champagne De Sousa Brut Reserve Grand Cru NV

Single bottle price: $96.00

De Sousa’s 100 per cent chardonnay, 70/30 blend of 2008 and 2007 features barrel-ageing with extensive resting on lees. Erick De Sousa harvests as late as possible, making his champagnes more rich, pure and long. The aged, deep-rooted vines extract salts and trace minerals from the chalk, giving additional complexity to the champagne.

Champagne De Sousa Brut Reserve Grand Cru NV

Champagne De Sousa Brut Reserve Grand Cru NV

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Champagne FX is relentless in the promotion of champagne, always pressing home the message that champagne only comes from the champagne region of north-eastern France. Anything else is sparkling wine. The above champagnes, along with other outstanding grower champagnes and selected grand marques are available online at www.champagnefx.com.

Champagnes in images kindly supplied by United Cellars: www.unitedcellars.com.au or call 1300 226 835.

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