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A Toast to Boutique Bubbles

By by Abigail Crayne

The arrival of fall and the holiday season heralds many opportunities for enjoying and exploring the world of Champagne and sparkling wine. Although always an excellent choice for year-round enjoyment, sparkling wine adds an extra-festive touch and a truly special note to your celebration or gathering. As a general rule, only sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France, produced by following traditional methods, can be labeled as Champagne. Any other origin will have a different name, such as Cremant, Cava, Prosecco or sparkling wine, to name a few.

One particular niche within the Champagne category is that of single estate or grower Champagnes. These are produced by the family or farmer of the estate on which the grapes were grown. With increased interest in knowing about where our food comes from, this same approach can be extended to your Champagne experience. Grower Champagnes display unique characteristics from each producer, exemplifying the terroir (climate and soil) and the decisions of the winemaker to create a distinctive house style. These differ from big-name brand Champagnes that are likely blended from grapes purchased from many sources within the Champagne region. This approach achieves a consistent, brand-driven product every year—and not the expression of a place and winemaker you will find when enjoying a grower Champagne.

Grower Champagnes will not have instantly recognizable names and labels, but the trade-up is that instead of a big marketing campaign to support, they offer an exceptional quality-to-price ratio. Selection at each Draeger’s Wine Department will vary, with the San Mateo location particularly focusing on grower Champagnes. These bottles can often be identified by the initials RM (Recoltant Manipulant) on the wine label, and they are grouped together for your convenience. Excellent choices are available, so ask our knowledgeable Wine Department staf for suggestions. Try something new, and enjoy with your friends and family over the holidays and beyond!

Pairing with Food
Because of their minerality and acidity, dry (brut) Champagnes and sparkling wines pair well with many foods without overpowering the ?avors of the dish. Excellent Champagne pairings include appetizers, seafood, fried foods and salty items, as well as heartier fare like duck, pork and many cheeses, including Brie, Brillat-Savarin, Camembert, Gorgonzola dolce and Parmigiano-Reggiano.