There’s an indescribable air of romance associated with sparkling wine and Champagne, those magically effervescent wines that make any occasion feel special.
It’s easy to love the superstar big name producers with their familiar labels and seductive ads. But a growing number of connoisseurs are striking up a romance with grower Champagnes, made by families who grow grapes and then craft them into small amounts that have an individual character.
These boutique Champagnes are popping up on wine lists at places like Addison at The Grand Del Mar, ENO in the Hotel Del Coronado, and the Wine Vault & Bistro in Mission Hills, where smart sommeliers are offering their guests something extraordinary.
And their guests are falling in love with Champagnes by Gaston Chiquet, whose rosé is bright with honeyed blackberries; Pierre Gimonnet, who makes extraordinarily elegant wines with Chardonnay from the famed Cotes des Blancs; and Henri Billiot, who adds vintage Pinot Noir to his rosé Champagnes for a note of complexity. Jesse Rodriguez, wine director at The Grand Del Mar, loves the rich wines from the tiny biodynamic Champagne house Vilmart et Cie so much he chose it to create a special cuvée just for Addison. He’s making a mission out of introducing guests to what many experts consider the best Champagnes available.
“I can’t tell you how many times you show them a small grower producer Champagne and the guest instantly gets turned on,” he says. Sounds like fun. MARIA C. HUNT