Grower Champagne, n.
At the table, you nodded when I said Grower Champagne. But you didn't know what I meant. I wish you had asked. I didn't want to be pedantic. I let it go. I'm sorry.
Most of the Champagne brands you know—the Veuves, the Moets, the Roederers—don't grow very much of their own fruit. They buy grapes from around the appellation of Champagne. All over the area. And they blend it together, aiming to get a consistent flavor. This is why, every time you buy the Veuve with the yellow label, it tastes pretty much the same.
Grower Champagne houses, on the other hand, grow all of their grapes. Many times, the grapes are all grown in a single village, in a few plots of family vineyard land. There's still a house style to the winemaking, but the wines are more likely to end up tasting like the specific character of the vineyards where they were grown. Those flavors aren't averaged out.
Champagne is one big appellation, so the proliferation of village or even site-specific Grower Champagne has done something remarkable for sommeliers and wine drinkers: it has made Champagne a more complicated, layered, rewarding place to explore. This, coupled with the fact that Champagne is totally effing delicious, probably explains why we sommeliers like to talk about it, and suggest it as the right wine for everything, always.
About the Author: Steven Grubbs is a sommelier and wine director at Empire State South (Atlanta, GA) and Five & Ten (Athens, GA). Ask him what to drink on Twitter, where he also accepts questions on tacos and manhood.