A list of grower Champagnes worth trying

Here are some favorite grower Champagnes to try. These are not widely distributed. You'll have to ferret them out at fine wine retailers. Remember, the clue is the RM on the bottle, which stands for récoltant-manipulant. If you don't see them, just ask. With wine connoisseurs, sommeliers and wine shop owners, "farmer fizz" has cachet. There's sure to be a bottle somewhere, maybe not these specific labels but something interesting that wine connoisseurs and thoughtful guests will appreciate.

NV Champagne Pierre Moncuit Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut à Le Mesnil-sur-Oger

Setting a very high bar, this Blanc de Blancs from the grand cru village Mesnil-sur-Oger is elegant and faceted. Chalky and crisp, scented with hazelnut and toast, it is a stunning Champagne. As soon as I take a sip, I feel as if I'm wearing a satin evening gown, transported to some fabulous Paris boîte. Just one of three Blanc de Blanc cuvées made by Nicole Moncuit and all from a single vintage each year, currently the 2010. $39 to $42.

NV Champagne Paul Bara Brut Réserve Bouzy Grand Cru à Bouzy

Bouzy, the capital of the Montagne de Reims sub-region of Champagne, is renowned for its Pinot Noir. And Paul Bara is one of the best récoltants-manipulants there. The Champagnes, now made by Bara's daughter Chantale, are bright and rich. The current non-vintage, a grand cru no less, has masses of very fine bubbles and hints of tangerine and quince. Youthful and vibrant, the brut réserve is wonderful with food. $37 to $46.

NV Champagne de Sousa Grand Cru Réserve Blanc de Blancs Spécial Brut à Avise

The Portuguese de Sousa family, in Champagne for three generations, works its vineyards in Avize biodynamically. Some parcels are even plowed with a horse. This Blanc de Blancs is a blend of two or three years and includes at least 30% reserve wines. The result is a Blanc de Blancs with beautiful balance, creamy texture and a fresh acidity. I love the minerality and accents of citrus rind. $37 to $45.

NV Champagne A. Margaine Premier Cru rosé à Villers-Marmery

Such a gorgeous coppery rose color with a beautiful mousse and scent of rose petals and wild strawberries. A. Margaine premier cru rosé is about 3/4 Chardonnay, 1/4 Pinot Noir. I love its touches of citrus and delicate smoke and especially the long-lingering finish. $47 to $57.

NV Champagne H. Goutorbe Cuvée Prestige Brut Premier Cru à Ay

A complex, lovely premier cru Champagne which is a blend of 70% Pinot Noir with 25% Chard and 5% Meunier. Full and ripe with a mousse of fine bubbles and a finish that's slow to leave, Goutorbe's Cuvée Prestige is impressive for the price. $40 to $50.

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