I common theme I noted this week in Champagne while surveying many people was the eagerness from NM, CM’s and alike to cite the RM producer “its all about the grower Champagne” buzz is slowing down??…and now with such an influx into the USA …we are seeing a lot of inconsistency in these wines one producer told me -- I absolutely agree with this statement for the most part. There are some epic growers in my eyes that will always have a halo like: Egly-Ouriet, Andre Clouet, Paul Barra, Benoit Lahaye and Voirin-Jumel etc… I guess the question is… is anyone seeing a slowdown in the market if those in the region are sensing one?
I am generally seeing a better balance on major market wine lists than a few years ago. (This was never really an issue outside of a handful of trend-driven markets.) As a lover of all good Champagne, this makes me very happy! There are still some zealots who view it as a political statement—don't even get me started—but I am increasingly seeing a better balance of quality negociants and quality growers. Luckily, the restaurants that stock exclusively hip grower sparkling airplane glue don't stay in business long.
Good to hear from you Matt Lane; hope to drink some bubbles together soon. Think I'll go pop a bottle now, fifty-fifty on if it will be NM or RM... Ok, ok, maybe 60/40 biased to NM ;)
Great question. I'll argue that the NM house never went away - we (the sommelier community) just paid less attention to them. NM houses IMHO are making better Champagne than ever. The "proven" RM houses - such as those you mention above - are getting better and better, but there is an awful lot of not-so-good, and as you point out highly inconsistent, RM stuff out there - in fact, some flat out bad RM Champagnes. I find it hard to find a bad NM bottle. Roederer, Charles Heidsieck, Ruinart, Krug, M&C (including, Dom Perignon), Gosset, Philliponnat, Billecart and many others are simply making stunning Champagne. Would I take a bottle of Pierre Peters "Chettilons" over Clos de Goisses? Not sure, but there aren't many wines period that I'd take over CdG, Dom Perignon, Cristal, Sir Winston Churchill, etc. I don't see a slowdown in RM, but I also don't see the growth I see from NM Champagne. I suggest, Matt and Geoff, that the three of us get together ASAP and do an exhaustive study. Matt - looking forward to our next bottles!
I will gladly volunteer to pour!