'Grower' Champagnes offer some of the highest quality and best value drinking in the region, but are still something of a well kept secret in the UK.
Made from grapes grown by the producers themselves (not bulk bought like the big brand equivalents), these are hand-crafted, single estate wines that would sell for a lot more if they could match the marketing power of the big Champagne houses.
The Fresne Ducret 'Les Nouveaux Explorateurs' Premier Cru NV is an outstandingly good example, with that perfect balance of ripe fruit, rich, brioche-like yeastiness and crisp (but not too crisp!) acidity.
The Fresne family have been growing grapes in Champagne for 7 generations. Their vines are in the 1er Cru village of Villedommange, near Reims, and today it is Pierre Fresne who oversees the whole operation - from vineyard management through to the dosage, riddling and final corking.
The resulting Champagnes are a testament to the family's meticulous production methods and the quality of the domaine's Premier Cru terroir.
Offered: November 2018.
Drinking window: 2018 – 2023.
Food matching: Excellent as an aperitif but even better with smoked salmon or potted shrimp.