Eagle County master sommelier shares Champagne picks | VailDaily.com

Eagle County master sommelier shares Champagne picks

Sean Razee
Eagle County CO, Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Americans will consume roughly 70 million bottles of Champagne this holiday season, 50 percent of which will be produced by the three largest Champagne houses. Champagne is a region of blended wines, born largely out of necessity. Due to France’s inheritance law, land is split among siblings over generations. These small land-owners/grape-growers often sell their grapes to large producers that blend them to produce a “house style.” Of the houses who actually grow their own grapes and produce their own wine, only a handful forge their way into the American market. These rare bottlings are worth seeking out.

Growers who produce their own wines are designated as “recoltant-manipulant” or RM. The larger houses that buy grapes are classed as “negociant-manipulant” or NM. You can find these codes on every Champagne bottle, usually in the fine print of the front label.

So what does the code tell you? In the minds of many Champagne admirers and sommeliers, the RM can signify a wine with character of place and individuality. These are wines produced from family-owned vineyards and in small lots, in direct contrast to their larger brethren. By virtue of their heritage, they are wines that express the terrior of their owner’s land.

The large Champagne houses can craft beautiful and complex wines, but if you seek individuality and unique expression, read the fine print.

Known for their use of barrel-fermentation creating, a rich, round and powerful style.

One of the best growers in Champagne, crafting wines with a myriad of flavors.

Very well-crafted wines with a seamless presentation of citrus and red fruits.

All chardonnay from the best vineyards in Cuis, making for elegant, mineral-laden wines.

Sean Razee is the beverage director and sommelier for Spago at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch on Beaver Creek Mountain. He currently holds the Master Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Razee is one of 96 Master Sommeliers in the United States and the only person in the Vail Valley that holds the distinguished certification.

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