Discover Artisan Champagne
Author: Davy Żyw
This autumn, we’re turning our attention to our most treasured sparkling wine region. Champagne offers an enormous wealth and diversity of style. However, this is often at risk of being overlooked in favour of the ‘big name’ brands. But all is not lost, explains Davy Zyw, as is proved by our Artisan Champagne winemakers.
A few titanic Grandes Marques names and brands made the wines of Champagne famous. Their uniform cuvées trained consumers to expect consistency in Champagne styles.
There are many wines to celebrate amongst these. However, they have only ever given us a binary view into Champagne. It’s a region which holds a huge wealth of terroir, style, winemaking talent and philosophy. This is why we’re focusing our attention on a new selection of wines – ones which represent the very pinnacle of artisan production.
What is Artisan Champagne?
Artisan Champagne sits separately to the region’s “big-business” image. This category includes smaller-scale, lesser-known – and in many cases, undervalued – producers. Many of these producers craft grower Champagnes and own the winemaking process from start to finish. Their wines do sit outside the uniform style we have come to expect from the region. However, they represent a huge span of innovative approaches, winemaking techniques and terroir.
Champagne is at the cusp of a climatic, cultural and commercial change. We believe our trailblazing Artisan producers are driving this shift, crafting wines with fresh vigour and confidence. Now is a fantastic time for customers to discover the new start of this historic region.
Artisan winemakers and sustainability
The champagnois feel the effects of climate change acutely. Recent growing seasons tested both vines and terroir. They also exposed who the best farmers in the region are. Now, there is increased division between the vignerons who are responding correctly, and those who are not.
Sustainability is at the core of the Champagne psyche. We are proud to support the increasing biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming methods many of our Artisan Champagne producers practice.
Artisan winemaking styles in Champagne
Blending sites, grapes and vintages is still paramount in Champagne. However, increasingly, many are choosing to vinify single crus separately, akin to Burgundy. This practice is not new, but it is becoming progressively popular – and it allows us to appreciate terroirs through a transparent lens.
One of the best examples of the quality of this selection are Alexandre Penet’s lieux dits from the north-facing, Pinot Noir vineyards in Verzy and Verszenay. The wines are brave, detailed and self-assured. They will appeal to the most discerning of Champagne and Pinot Noir lovers. Or, look to young Bernard Doussot of Clandestin. Bernard trained in Meursault, before bringing new energy to the region’s southern vineyards of the Cotes des Bars.
The future of Artisan Champagne
At Berry Bros. & Rudd, we certainly believe each glass of Artisan Champagne brings pleasure. But, there are commercial rewards to the region’s new guise. Increasingly, we are seeing growth in the Artisan producer category, with some releases even surpassing the price points generated by the most established prestige cuvées. Artisan Champagne doesn’t just bring delight to our dining table: now, wines from this category are proving a savvy, cellar-worthy investment too.
Our full Artisan Champagne offer is now available here