Organic wines are made from grapes grown without pesticides, following strict organic standards. Organic wines are produced in vineyards that do not use synthetic chemicals. Certified organic wines have been certified by Association des Champagnes Biologiques in France. There are lots knocking around....but not in Champagne.

We recently had the pleasure of meeting husband and wife Claire and Maxime Blin in Paris. We tasted their wines and were enchanted. The Champagne is as epic as they are down to earth and lovely!

Champagne Maxime Blin has captured the attention of the world's champagne experts. This fourth-generation family owned champagne house has produced many award winning champagnes which are rated highly and celebrated for their expression of the famous terrior in which the vineyard is located. It is one of the few certified organic champagne producers in the world. Situated in the Champagne village of Saint Thierry near Reims - the center of the Champagne world - boasting Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Ruinart and Taittinger, Champagne Maxime Blin is the rising star amongst its big name neighbours.

Maxime Blin has been certified organic since 2021. The company. produced its first organic champagne in 2022. Maxime Blin champagnes are highly sought after due to the qualtiy and low volume of champagnes it produces. It cultivates the three Champagne grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay on vines with an average age of twenty years.

You sell wine for opprtunities like this - to sell something that truly grabs you and captivates you. 


It’s been a static year for the fine wine secondary market, says the CEO of LiveTrade, Matthew O’Connell. But one little ray of light has been the performance of boutique, or “grower”, champagnes. “Ulysse Collin, Cédric Bouchard, Selosse and Egly-Ouriet are all up 10-20 per cent. This is in contrast to grandes marques such as Krug and Dom Pérignon, which have all been down eight-nine per cent, roughly in line with the broader market,” he says. 

Ulysse Collin, Selosse and their ilk represent the pinnacle of the “grower” movement – one characterised by small domaines that grow all (or almost all) of their own grapes and release champagnes under their own label. “These smaller producers are definitely bucking the trend.”

Champagne’s share of the secondary market has steadily increased over the past 10 years. Today, it stands at more than 13 per cent, making it the third most-traded wine category after bordeaux and burgundy, according to Liv-ex. It’s a realm still dominated by the big names: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, Pol Roger Winston Churchill, Cristal, Krug, Bollinger La Grande Année and Dom Pérignon are among the most-traded cuvées. But small, grower-style houses are increasingly punching above their weight.

“In the past two or three years we’ve seen a real premium on genuinely exclusive products – ones that are high-quality, terroir-focused, limited production and genuinely hard to get hold of,” says O’Connell. “And that’s what you get with these growers. You could conceptualise them as burgundy with bubbles.”

Scarcity is key – some of these releases are limited to thousands, or even hundreds, of bottles (a prestige cuvée from a grande marque, on the other hand, can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions). And this has seen prices spiral – some Jacques Sélosse vintages now tip £2,000 a bottle in retail.

The diversity of styles offered by grower champagnes is also part of their appeal, says Peter Crawford, founder of grower specialist Sip Champagnes. “They’re innovating in so many ways – reviving field blends [cuvées made from different varieties grown in the same vineyard] and championing neglected grape varieties including Pinot Gris and Arbanne; ageing in Jura wine casks and amphorae and bottling with zero dosage [no added sugar] to create flavour profiles that really push the boundaries.”

“People are increasingly confident with wine and champagne – they’re becoming more adventurous and less brand-orientated,” says Dawn Davies, master of wine and buyer for Decanter magazine’s Champagne Retailer of the Year, The Whisky Exchange. “I’m not so sure it’s cool to turn up to dinner with a bottle everyone’s already heard of any more.”

New York, always thirsty for the next big thing, has been an early adopter of niche cuvées. At the city’s annual champagne gala, La Fête du Champagne, grower champagnes go head-to-head with Krug, Bollinger and Ruinart. Founder-sommelier Daniel Johnnes says there’s been such an influx of new names it can be “hard to keep up with this extremely dynamic sector”. But he singles out Bérêche et Fils, Chartogne-Taillet, Pierre Peters, Vilmart & Cie, Famille Moussé and brother-and-sister team Benoît and Mélanie Tarlant as particularly worthy of praise.

“They are small and family-owned, with traditions passed down over the years and a new, young generation committed to improvements of their family wine, the region overall – and the planet.”

Before we get too misty-eyed about the little guys, it’s important to note that not all producers who are “grower” in spirit, are tiny. Louis Roederer, for example, owns all the (organic and biodynamic) vineyards that go into its vintage and Cristal cuvées, and has an enquiring approach that’s arguably more grower in spirit than many smaller houses.

And more big houses are now releasing cuvées with a more grower-ish positioning. O’Connell highlights Bollinger PN, which riffs on Pinot Noir from a different vintage and village each year, as a good example of this. “It’s smaller production, really terroir-focused that’s proved really popular with our clients,” he says. “There’s also been a move to greater transparency about what’s in the bottle – something growers have historically been good at – with things like the introduction of the Krug iD [a six-digit code that unlocks information about each Grande Cuvée Édition] and Laurent-Perrier’s “iteration” approach with its prestige cuvée Grand Siècle, which is now doing much more to highlight the components in each edition.”

The growers bring something to the table, and that is personality. As someone who’s tasted from the barrel with a Sélosse, picnicked on a hillside with Jérome Prevost and cracked jokes with Mélanie Tarlant, I can attest to this. And that is something you can’t buy – even with the biggest marketing budget. 

Published in Financial Times November 2023 by Alice Lascelles