In June 4's "Wine Gal Explains Wine Things" -- a companion to our "Wine Guy Explains Wine Things" series -- one of the things that Squid Ink talked about with Cut sommelier Dana Farner was grower-champagne or brands of champagne with names we don't recognize that is made by some of the smaller estates. One of the points she drove home is that grower-champagne might cost less, but there's a good reason why its tastes great. Grower-champagnes, she said, "provide great value because the people who are making the wine are putting their resources into the grapes and into the producing the wine, not into hiring supermodels to promote the product."
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Naturally, we spent the next few days wondering if we were ready to spend $100-plus on a champagne we'd never ever heard of. Then we had an idea: Why not ask Farner for a few examples of grower-champagnes on her wine list? (Not able to make it to CUT? Here's some good news: Most of them are available at Wine Expo on Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica.)
Camille Savès "Rosé" Champagne NV, $110: "This Rosé is such a treat - strawberries and brioche, but no sweetness. An amazing value."
Le Brun Servenay Champagne 1997, $132: "1997 was widely considered an inferior vintage with 'chunky' fruit but this elegant, finessed Champagne shows none of that."
Pierre Peters "Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Spéciale" Champagne 2001, $186: "Blanc de Blancs on a Champagne label means 100% chardonnay. This Pierre Peters Cuvée drinks like a wine and is great through the whole meal."