Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Special Club

No, its not a Marvel superhero collective but they're not far off from becoming the equivalent in Champagne. Created in 1971, the Special Club or 'Tresors de Champagne' is a group of like-minded grower champagnes who all share a common goal, to produce the best expression of their individual terroir that they can. Membership of this club is pretty exclusive. There are currently 25 members who must be Recoltant-Manipulants and must sign up to the strict 'charter' which outlines the clubs ideals and philosophy.
In exceptional years each member is given the opportunity to create a Special Club Cuvee. This is a blend which the grower thinks is the best possible expression of their house style combined with the character of the vintage. But before the clubman can even make a champagne a blend the 'vin clairs' ,which are the still wines produced before the secondary bottle fermentation, must pass a taste test with all the other members. If they are not happy with the quality of the blend then it cannot be presented in the specially created bottle with the special club label. The final champagne will also be tasted before release to make sure it is up to the Special Club standard.

Seeing a champagne presented in this unique bottle is as good a guarantee of quality that you are likely to find in a grower champagne. It's usually the growers 'tete de cuvee' or top champagne. 

Current club members are:

Paul Bara (Bouzy)
Roland Champion (Chouilly)
Charlier et Fils (Montigny-sous-Châtillon)
Forget-Chemin (Ludes)
Fresnet-Juillet (Verzy)
Grongnet (Etoges)
Marc Hébrart (Mareuil-sur-Aÿ)
Vincent Joudart (Fèrebrianges)
Lamiable (Tours-sur-Marne)
Larmandier Père et Fils (Cramant)
J. Lassalle (Chigny-lès-Roses)
Launois Père et Fils (Le Mesnil-sur-Oger)
Joseh Loriot-Pagel (Festigny)
A. Margaine (Villers-Marmery)
Moussé Fils (Cuisles)
Nominé-Renard (Villevenard)
Salmon (Chaumuzy)
Remy Massin et Fils (Ville sur Arce)
Vazart-Coquart (Chouilly)

Past members include Lamandier-Bernier (Reni Rezepi's favourite grower) and Pierre Peters.

Now, these are not easy champagnes to get hold of. They are made in very small quantities but they are well worth hunting down if you can. UK Stockists include The Sampler, Champagne Warehouse, Armit, Berry Bros and Nickolls and Perks.