Certain top Champagne brands have distanced themselves from the fine Champagne and luxury Champagne market and try to appeal to the general masses. Some top Champagne brands have done this rather well, think orange labels or added sweetness perhaps.
Other Champagnes have opted to focus on greater acidity and finesse, and these types of Champagnes are the ones that will appeal to the Champagne drinkers who are in the know.
The usual top Champagne brands will typically be a mix of Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, however the Blancs to Blancs is produced from white grapes only, and translates as White of Whites. So, next time you purchase one of these or see such a bottle on a menu, you will know the background to it.
Top Champagne Brands
Sommeliers will often favour a Blanc de Blancs and there is a very good reason for it. A good example of that is seen with Andrew Green who is the spirits and wine director of Bacchus who are based in San Francisco, you will notice that at their well known restaurant they have an incredible 25 Blanc de Blancs available for purchase.
Andrew also has a plentiful supply of these in his own home and the reason being is that he enjoys the saline quality and nervy tension that is found in a fine Blanc de Blancs Champagne, stating he finds it similar to a grand cru Chablis.
This comparison could be deemed quite appropriate, the reason for this is that these wine regions are very close to each other both in stylistic and geographic terms. On the other hand Chablis is a name that is recognised the world over, Blanc de Blancs is much less known – for this reason if you selected it at a family gathering for example, many people would take great interest in your choice of fine Champagne.
The fact that Blanc de Blancs as a fine Champagne is not overly known is echoed by Tim O’Rourke who is employed as general manager at Weygandt Wines– he confirms that most of the his customers are not aware of what it is, and has to describe it to them. Champagne drinkers on the other hand will usually be more conversant in this area, as they have drunk many fine Champagnes and will typically enjoy many different types.
Amongst my own friends and colleagues the pattern is repeated as very few of them were aware of what a Blanc de Blancs is. There is nothing wrong with this of course, however when you know about it the assumption is that others do too, but clearly this is not the case. possibly the reason for this is that the heavily marketed top Champagne brands like Veuve Clicquot, Moet and Lanson don’t discuss these in their campaigns which probably explains why it often slips under the radar.
Top Champagne Brands
I personally think that the top Champagne brands have done little in terms of emphasising the origin of their wines, this may well be because they don’t own many vineyards and will typically source their grapes from growers. This trend has been changing though as there appears to be a shift as growers tend to produce their own fine Champagne. Clearly though there is room for improvement as the general public by and large are still in the dark about it.
The two Champagne regions that are typically associated with Blanc de Blancs are Côte de Sézanne and Côte des Blancs, here is where you will find the best Chardonnay being grown. The Côte des Blancs is largely associated for the fine Chardonnay it produces, as there are six grand cru villages in this area, most notably: Chouilly, Avize, Cramant, Oiry, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.
The Champagne region is distinct from Burgundy in one very notable way, the classification of grand cru is related to the villages and not the vineyards. This therefore points to a very high quality grape, and also a high price tag.
Grand Cru Champagne
As an example of the price, a Blanc de Blancs Champagne which is grand cru and non vintage will cost around the £40 mark or so. When you compare this to a grand Cru Chablis, you will typically pay twice the amount. So if you are wanting a Blanc to Blancs for your wedding or any other family celebration, then I advise you to choose wisely as they can be quite expensive.
The fine Champagnes that most people will typically choose will be in the £30 – £60 area, and between these there you will find a great deal in terms of variance of style and character. Some of these are very mineral and lean, while others have a more creamy texture and are full bodied. Many of these attributes will be directly linked to the terroir – if we take for example the Côte de Sézanne, you will find that the fruit is riper, which in turn makes a riper wine.
The dryness and sweetness can vary considerably between them, for example in a recent taste test of 10 Champagnes many were particularly dry, the Pierre Péters was a good example of this. The producer described the presence of this fine Champagne as a “a benevolent transparency.” Another one that did well in the test was Pierre Moncuit Hugues de Coulmet, the taste notes here were floral and dry. The Ruinart did the best though, although this was reflected in the price at around £55.
Ruinart – circa £55
A great Blanc de Blancs which is largely premier cru and originates from the villages around the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. This was first introduced in 2001 and would be a great choice for any formal event where you want to make an impression.
Pierre Péters – circa £45
This originates from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger which is a grand cru village -this fine Champagne is both elegant and intense and is exactly what a Blanc de Blancs should be about.
Delamotte – this is a Brut Blanc de Blancs – circa £40
This fine Champagne is a top Champagne brand produced by the famous Salon Champagne. This is a great Champagne and surprisingly not an expensive Champagne even though it is produced by Salon. It is refreshing and crisp and will not doubt impress your guests should you choose this as for a major occasion like a wedding or birthday celebration.
Pierre Moncuit Hugues de Coulmet – circa £35
This is produced by family of Yves and Nicole Moncuit, this fine Champagne is known to be one of the best value Champagnes in the area that is the Côte des Blancs. It is both light and floral, and should you choose this for your next gathering you will not go wrong.
J.L. Vergnon – circa £35
Christophe Constant is noted for producing a fine Champagne that has ripe fruit, which in turn keeps the sugar levels low. The end product is a rich Champagne that is well balanced at the same time.