American wine drinkers have a growing thirst for Champagne, and producers are answering the call. For her annual tasting report
in the Dec. 31 issue
, senior editor Alison Napjus rated 450 Champagnes, the highest number yet for Wine Spectator
. Among them were wines from nearly 150 producers, 26 of them appearing for the first time. Much of that growth comes from small grower-producers, who make Champagne from their own grapes, highlighting a specific terroir
. In terms of sheer volume, however, the U.S. market is still dominated by the big Champagne houses, who make wine from estate and purchased grapes, typically blend wines from multiple sites and, generally speaking, still set the bar for quality.