Pizza and Champagne together? YES! Champagne has a range of flavors from fruity, floral, earthy, nutty, toasty, yeasty, to even honey. Add it’s effervescent bubbles, tart acidity, and general low alcohol all combine to make for a versatile wine for food pairings, even pizza.
This month the French Winophiles, a French food and wine loving group that come together the 3rd Saturday of each month to blog and chat on Twitter at 11:00am ET about French wine, are taking a closer taste of some Champagne, specifically, “Grower Champagne.” Check out our host, Martin’s informative invitation post for grower champagne on his blog Enofylz Wine Blog.
Grower Champagne is produced by the estate/grower from grapes grown in their own vineyard reflecting a sense of terroir and vintage variation. Unlike the big Champagne houses that grow or purchase their grapes from various vineyards and blend those growing regions and vintages together to create a consistent style year after year.
A Few Helpful Facts about (Grower) Champagne
- Three main grapes used to produce Champagne; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier
- Five main growing regions in Champagne
Montagne de Reims – growing mostly Pinot Noir
Côte des Blancs – growing mostly Chardonnay with chalk based soils producing wines with higher acidity
Vallée de la Marne – growing mostly Pinot Meunier known to add fruitiness and acidity
Côte des Sézanne – growing mostly Chardonnay with chalk and marl soils producing wines with more aromatics and less acidity
The Aube (aka Côte de Bar) growing mostly Pinot Noir with marl soils and producing wines with less acidity
- Four Styles of Champagne
Standard – all three grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier in a blanc (white) wine
Blanc de Blanc – Made with 100% Chardonnay with citrus lemon and apple flavors
Blanc de Noir – Made with 100% Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with strawberry and white raspberry flavors
Rosé – Blending Blanc Champagne with a small amount of Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier
- Level of Sweetness in Champagne (coming from the “dosage” added at the wine’s second fermentation)
Brut Nature – 0-3 grams /liter residual sugar
Brut – less than 12 grams/liter residual sugar
Extra Dry – 12-17 grams/liter residual sugar
Dry/Off-Dry – 17-32 grams/liter residual sugar
Demi-Sec – 32-50 grams/liter residual sugar
Doux – 50+ grams/liter residual sugar
I tasted the following three grower champagnes and paired pizzas with various toppings.
My Tasting Notes
Champagne Pertois-Moriset Brut, Côte de Blancs, 2008
12% abv | $56.00 average | 100% Chardonnay
The wine rested for seven months on its lees in tanks before being bottled April 30, 2009. Disgorged July 4, 2016, with a dosage of 5 grams/liter
Pertois-Moriset located in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. 3rd generation family owned and operated. The estate holds 18,50 hectares; 12 hectares in Côte des Blancs classified as Grand Cru planted 100% to Chardonnay. 6,50 hectares are in Cote de Sézanne planted 60% to Pinot Noir and 40% to Chardonnay.
Medium golden in color with tiny faint bubbles. Medium+ acidity and medium bodied. On the palate intense citrus acidity and lingering minerality.
Champagne Tarlant Zero Brut Nature, Vallée de la Marne, 2010 + reserve wines
12% abv | $57.00 average | 1/3 Pinot Noir 1/3 Chardonnay 1/3 Meunier
Total time on its lees six years, disgorged March 2017 with a dosage of o grams/liter
The Tarlant estate has 35 acres of vineyards spread over 55 parcels in the villages of Oeuilly, Boursault, St-Agnan, and Celles-lès-Condé planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier. In addition, there are also smaller plantings of Pinot Blanc, Arbanne, and Petit Meslier. The 12th generation of Tarlant growers currently runs the estate.
Pale golden in color with persistent tiny bubbles. Medium+ acidity and medium body. On the palate crisp, refreshing citrus with an underlying smoothness and minerality. Elegant with a beautiful lingering lemony finish.
Champagne Nominé Renard Brut Rosé
12% abv | $49.00 average | 45% Chardonnay 45% Pinot Meunier 10% Pinot Noir, Non Vintage
75% of the wine is 18 months old, and 25% is reserve wine
The wine was disgorged November 2017 with a dosage of 11 grams/liter.
The estate located in Villevenard. 3rd generation family owned and operated with three grape varieties planted in six different villages (Villevenard, Etoges, Broyes, Allemant, Charly sur Marne, Passy Grigny) and three growing regions (Les Coteaux du Petit Morin, Côte de Sézanne, and Vallée de la Marne) spread across 36 plots.
Medium pink in color with persistent tiny bubbles. Medium- acidity and medium bodied. Fruity on the palate with notes of cherry and lemon, nicely balanced with a velvety mouthfeel and lingering finish.
Pizza Margherita – San Marzano tomato sauce, Parmesan Cheese, fresh Mozzarella, and fresh basil
Potato, Bacon, Thyme with Fontina and Mozzarella cheeses
Fennel Sausage, Mushrooms, San Marzano Tomato Sauce, Parmesan and Mozzarella cheeses, and Fresh Basil
Fresh Fig, Prosciutto, Arugula, Manchego and Mozzarella cheeses
Why the Pizza Pairings Worked with the Grower Champagnes
- The bubbles contrasted the richness of the cheeses
- Low alcohol in the Champagne made for a food friendly wine
- The yeasty notes in the pizza dough were echoed in the Champagne
- The acidity in the Champagne countered the salty bacon and prosciutto
- The bubbles matched the acidity in the tomato sauce
- The red fruit flavors in the rosé played off the slight sweetness of the figs
The Champagne Pertois-Moriset Brut and Champagne Nominé Renard Brut Rosé overall paired best with the pizzas. While the Champagne Tarlant Zero Brut Nature was one of my favorite of the three, it lacked fruitiness and was too austere for the pizza. This wine would be perfect as an aperitif or with oysters!
More adventures with Grower Champagne from my fellow French Winophiles ~
- Jeff of FoodWineClick is “Taking a Saber to Farmer Fizz“
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla says Skip The Butterbombs and Pair Champagne with Alpine Cheeses Instead
- Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles dives into Farmer Fizz? An exploration of Grower Champagne
- Jane of Always Ravenous is Pairing Pizza with Grower Champagne
- Nicole of Somm’s Table is offering 5 Champagne Toasts
- Payal of Keep the Peas serves up Champagne: Le Vin du Diable
- Lynn of Savor The Harvest shares Fourth Generation Grower Champagne – Pierre Peters and Bourgeois-Diaz
- Jill of L’Occasion is taking A Closer Look At Grower Champagne With Champagne André Jacquart
- Gwendolyn of the Wine Predator is sharing #Winophiles In Epernay’s Grower Champagne Heaven with author Caroline Henry and winemaker Elodie D
- Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, is taking a sip of Grower Champagne From The Chalky Slopes Of Avize: Franck Bonville Prestige Brut Blanc de Blancs