Rare Grand Cru Grower Champagne
Grower Champagnes are among our greatest passions at Wine Access. The best are farmed and crafted, not just blended. The makers are impassioned and obsessive, fashioning wines with pristine effervescence. This NV Champagne Roland Champion Blanc de Blancs Brut hails from the Grand Cru village of Chouilly, whose wines are famous for their brioche richness. This cuvée pulled down 92 points from Wine Spectator, which called it “very elegant and well-meshed throughout, with a silky finish.” A majority of the winery’s releases are pre-sold to private customers, scarcely even available to the public in France. We’ve secured 56 cases at just $45 — an unbeatable price for classic Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Champagne.
When it comes to limestone vibrancy and effervescent finesse, Champagne from the Côte des Blancs, the renowned sub-region planted exclusively to Chardonnay, has few rivals. So when we’re able to come away with small allocations of wine produced by tiny, fourth-generation growers like Roland Champion, it’s a victory.
The Champions have been cultivating vines since the 18th century, primarily selling harvests to negociants; it was only in 1929 that the family began bottling under their own name.
Today, François and his daughter Carole preside over 40 different parcels in Chouilly, one of only 17 Grand Cru villages in Champagne — all of which account for less than nine percent of the vineyards in the region. Chouilly is among the handful that comprise the internationally famous Côte des Blancs sub-region, the source of renowned blanc de blancs made with 100% Chardonnay that The Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague calls “the wine insider’s favorite Champagne.”
If the Grand Crus of Cramant are known for their creaminess, and those of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger for their steely structure, Chouilly blanc de blancs like this one exude a fantastic, wound-up richness and exquisite lemony aromatics. The vineyards at Roland Champion have a south-southeast exposure and chalk-and-limestone soils that impart terrific mineral complexity. Grapes are harvested manually and pressed on-site without delay to maintain freshness and quality. The NV, made entirely from free-run juices, ages for at least 30 months in the winery’s cool, damp cellars.
Despite its small size, Roland Champion is among the most highly regarded producers of Chouilly — this cuvée won 92 points from Wine Spectator, which praised it as “very elegant and well-meshed throughout, with a silky finish.” The bad news: the majority of their wine is pre-sold to private customers, and has been for generations, leaving precious little for those not on the list. All the more reason to jump on this rare allocation of powerful blanc de blanc Champagne before it’s too late.