The Fluteau Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne is 100% Pinot Noir grown in a single Estate vineyard in the Côte des Bar district of Aube in the southernmost section of Champagne which is located in northeast France. This Bubbly is known as a Grower/Producer Champagne which indicates that the family that owned the vineyard and grew the grapes also produced the wine. And while you may think, “isn’t that the way most of the wine regions in France operate?”, the answer is yes, except for Champagne. In Champagne the established wine Houses, Moet, Mumm, Dom Perignon, etc.. have for centuries purchased grapes from the local farmers to produce their Bubbly. Some have no vineyards of their own, others have small holdings and are typically used for their top-tier offerings. Up until sometime in the early 20th century is was actually illegal for these independent growers to make their own Champagne. Fluteau was one of the first of the independent growers to produce Champagne back in 1927. While some of the largest, best known Champagne Houses may use 100 different vineyards for some of their wines, the Grower/Producer Bubbles are Estate grown and as often as not single vineyard wines. This Blanc de Noirs (translates to white from red and in Champagne that means Pinot Noir was used) is a non-vintage Bubbly, wine from several recent vintages are blended to taste. In Champagne, the 2nd fermentation (that’s were the bubbles are produced) occurs inside each bottle and each bottle is then aged a minimum of 3 years “on lees” (with the dead yeast still inside the bottle with the Bubbly (don’t worry they remove it before they send it out for sale). To tell the difference between a traditional Champagne House and a Grower/Producer, the Grower/Producer bottles have a number the label with a RM prefix. The alcohol content is 12%.
The color is a golden yellow with tons of tiny energetic bubbles streaming to the surface. The nose is lemon and yeasty bread, green apple, pear, a hint of honey, lightly floral and a little herbal. This Bubbly has a crisp mouth-feel, medium-bodied with balanced acidity. It starts with tart strawberry, melon, grapefruit and pear. The mid-palate adds ripe peach, a touch of cream, and salty cashew. The acidity makes this a lively Bubbly but does not interfere with you’re sipping pleasure. The finish is full and lasts all night.
The Fluteau Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne is everything you can ask for in a Champagne, it may not be one of the classic, old Champagne Houses, but it does have a 90 year history, which is something few Grower/Producer Bubbly makers can say. I found this for $29.99 (on sale during a tasting) which puts this boutique, hand-made Bubbly selling below what many of the mass-produced famous name Bubbles sell for. As for finding Grower/Producer Champagne in your local wine shops, the old school Champagne Houses have long since been snapped up by the biggest and old wine importers and distributors, so many of these Grower/Producer Bubbles are imported and distributer by the newer, “hipper” companies, so don’t expect to find these at the local supermarket, try the hot new wine shop in the trendy part of town. While I wouldn’t call Grower/Producer Champagne cheap, it is more economical when compared with the traditional Champagne Houses. With old school Champagne, they will sell you boutique style Bubbles, but at a price well beyond your typical Grower/Producer bottle. And as an extra bonus the traditional Champagne Houses are all well-known commodities, with Grower/Producer you can explore and find the Bubbly that speaks to you and it will be your secret. The month of December is a good time to search out these Bubbles, because the supply should be plentiful and the sale prices will not be lower until the Holidays 2018.