Grower Champagne is quite different from House Champagne. The former sources fruit from a single vineyard or village and, thus, expresses the terroir of that specific site and often reflects the peculiarities of a particular vintage. The latter (i.e., House Champagne) purposely tries to achieve a consistent style across time and does this by blending across sites. A good example of the former (i.e., Grower Champagne) is Egly-Ouriet, and a good example of the latter (i.e., House Champagne) is Veuve Clicquot. Obviously, both of these producers make excellent, albeit different, Champagnes. We discussed both types of Champagne in Report #9 Champagne.
Recently, a new Grower Champagne entered the US market, imported by JAO Wine Imports of McLean, VA. Domaine Jean-Pierre Legret is a small 5 hectare domaine located in Côte de Sézanne between Epernay and Sézanne with vineyards in three communes. The domaine is organic, and the Champagnes are made today by Alain Legret (pictured to the right). Our tasting notes on these wines can be found below. As can be discerned from our scores, we like these Champagnes. Unfortunately, they’re not imported in large quantities. Most this Champagne stays in France, especially after receiving positive reviews recently from the French wine press.
How to tell the difference whether a bottle you are considering purchasing is Grower Champagne or not? Look for the label “Récoltant-Manipulant” or the initials RM. House wines are instead typically labeled “Négociant-Manipulant” or the initials NM.
Champagne Jean-Pierre Legret
Jean-Pierre Legret NV Champagne Brut Tradition ($43) 90
The NV Brut has a bold nose of rich brioche and yeast and a strongly flavored palate showing notes of shortbread dough and orchard fruit. This is a Champagne meant to accompany food. Blend of 30% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, and 40% Pinot Meunier.
Jean-Pierre Legret NV Champagne Blanc de Blancs ($48) 91
This Blanc de Blancs reveals the richness of Chardonnay fruit. It ‘s crisp and dry on the attack but has a creamy, elegant palate with quite assertive Chardonnay, yeast and hazelnut flavors. Finishes very long. Received 3 stars in the 2010 Guide Hachette.
Jean-Pierre Legret NV Champagne Rosé ($46) 90+
Medium pink salmon color with a copper edge. This Rosé is bone dry, showing chalky minerals, fresh raspberry, and a muted cherry note. It’s crisp, dry and focused on the palate. Made of 25% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 35% Pinot Meunier.
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler