Quick breakdown on Champagne
You are probably already aware that just because it is fizzy wine, doesn’t mean you can call it Champagne. That title is reserved for sparkling wines made in the Methode Champenois in the Champagne region of France. (for more on what makes Champagne different dive into our piece “Sparkling Wine or Champagne“.)In the US in California they labeled bubbly as Champagne for a bit, (something to do we us not ratifying the Treaty of Versailles, back in 1919. When we then signed the wine trade agreement with France in 2006, Korbel was grandfathered in to be allowed to use the name Champagne) and France put the kibosh on that.
So to be called Champagne you must come from the Champagne Region in France. Now within that there are more distinctions and here is where “Grower Champagne” comes in.
Most Champagnes come from large Champagne Houses or Maisons. These houses may have estate vineyards, but they also source from all over the region, pulling grapes from small growers. They then blend the juice and often blend in some previous vintages. The goal? To create a uniform wine NV (non vintage) that will have consistent flavor and quality from year to year. A noble pursuit! And many fine Champagnes come from these houses.
The Champagne AOC is one of the largest in France covering 340,000 hectares with over 300 Villages.
80% of the wine coming out of this AOC is produced by Négociants and Coopératives.
They can pull from anywhere in the AOC AND they can purchase not only grapes, but pressed juice or in some cases sur-lattes (that is pre-made sparkling wine).