There are two trends NPR readers should know about when it comes to Champagne. First, that French sparkling wine is not just for special occasions anymore. Most people know this, but it’s a worthy and fun reminder that popping some bubbly on a Tuesday night is just as fun as popping it during a wedding celebration. The second, and one I’m a little more excited about, is introducing them to Grower Champagnes (see what I did there with the word “growing” in the headline?).
Grower champagnes are smaller producers who grow their own grapes and produce their own wines, unlike the big Champagne houses (think Dom Perignon, Krug, Veuve Cliquot, etc.) who usually purchase and blend grapes from different vineyards in order to create a consistent product from year to year.
To effectively tell this story, I interviewed David White (of Terroirist.com fame) about his new book But First, Champagne. The book pairs the history of Champagne, with easy-to-understand explanations of how its made and how to drink it, while profiling important producers in the region. As he told me about the grower champagnes:
“Most of these growers, who only account for about 5 percent of overall Champagne sales, eschew consistency in favor of singularity.”
That 5 percent statistic astounds me. The way the wine community talks about a lot of these producers, it feels like that number should be bigger. Instead it underscores how niche those of us obsessed with wine can be. And all the more reason, a broader audience should learn about these delicious wines.
Read the rest of the interview, perhaps while sipping some bubbly, or perhaps as a friend did while listening to the latest Tiny Desk concert with Joshua Bell (which surprisingly sounds better in this video than it did in person).