Vintage Champagne from Grand Cru Masters
Only the confident seek the judgment of their peers. The 28 producers of the Special Club readily submit to the scrutiny of their fellow grower-producers because they know how to craft exceptional Champagne. One of the pre-eminent symbols of quality in Champagne, the “Special Club” label only goes on singular, top wines from top vintages if they pass muster after a series of blind tastings and all the other producer-members of “The Club” unanimously agree. Roland Champion’s 2011 Special Club Blanc des Blancs made the cut, and at one sip you’ll understand why. Wine Enthusiast called the Champion Special Club “a beautifully crisp, ripe wine, showing taut fruit and fine, stylish acidity,” giving it a glowing 94-point score. Roland Champion’s peers have judged this special; we trust you will too. We have just 25 cases and wish we had more.
While the pleasures of the large houses’ têtes de cuvées (think Cristal or Dom Perignon) are undeniable, the small, artisanal grower-producers who comprise the Special Club add new layers of enjoyment to the concept. The big houses always blend to a house style and flavor profile, with fruit sourced from across the entire Champagne region. Since the Special Club’s formation in 1971, the Club Trésors de Champagne has been effectively designating tête de cuvée quality wine that expresses a single village terroir. In the Champion family’s case, the place is Chouilly (pronounced “Shoo-ee”), a top Grand Cru Champagne village in the heart of Champagne’s Chardonnay territory, the Côte des Blancs.
The Champion family has been farming Chouilly since the early 18th century; they know this land and these extraordinary chalk-based vineyards. In 1929, André Champion began to make wine under his own label, and his heirs still do, now in the fourth generation as grower-producers. André’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren produce crystalline, focused Chardonnay-based Champagnes. With the Special Club imprimatur, the 2011 Roland Champion Special Club Blanc de Blancs Chouilly Grand Cru Brut Chardonnay Champagne is the latest heirloom from a proud family.
Stellar with raw bar, charcuterie or any light appetizers, it is an eminently craveable wine that tastes great now, but will go for years in the cellar. The Champions’ 2011 Special Club is the sort of wine I can never turn down a glass of, no matter what time of day, weather, or company.
Editor-in-Chief, Wine Access