Champagne is a sparkling wine made from grapes coming from the Champagne region in north-central France. Producers must follow rules requiring the secondary fermentation of the wine in bottle to create the bubbly carbonation. Champagne is a blending of base wines which, ideally, create a whole greater than the sum of its parts. These “base” wines come from an assortment of wines—the Chardonnay white grape and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for red—from various villages and vineyards.
Two areas in the Champagne region are thought to be best for their superior grapes: the Montagne de Reims, which is perfectly located for producing the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier red grapes, and the Côte des Blancs, whose soils of limestone and chalk are excellent for Chardonnay. The Vallee de la Marne, which lies in a thin band along most of the region and is home to both red and white grapes, is the biggest area other than the Aube district, which lies further to the south.
Each decade, there are only four out of five harvests in the tough climate northeast of Paris that generate the needed ingredients to produce complete and balanced Champagne, vintage-designated, wines. They are, by definition, wines made entirely during the year indicated on the label. Because of this, most Champagnes also blend juice from two and more vintages.
This act of blending vintages is the means Champagnes producers employ to maintain their “house style” and provide their customers with a dependable, and consistent, product. With non-vintage wine accounting for about four out of five bottles of all Champagne produced, it makes sense that the status of most major houses depends on the quality and uniformity of their non-vintage offerings. Lucky for the Champagne-enthusiast, non-vintage bottles are often just as good as their vintage counterparts—and considerably less expensive.
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 95 points: As always, the 2003 Dom Pérignon has a lot to say. Bold, powerful and intensely phenolic in feel, the 2003 packs serious energy to match its explosive personality. The combined effects of a spring frost that decimated...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 94 points: 94+ Unfortunately there is only one new release from Dom Perignon this year. The 2003 is one of the most unusual Dom Perignons I have ever tasted, going back to 1952. Readers will remember that 2003 was a torrid vintage...
Antonio Galloni's Vinous, 94 points: One of the most intriguing wines ever made here, the 2003 Dom Pérignon continues to fascinate. Rich, vinous and deep, the 2003 has the structure of a Pinot-based Champagne, but much of the freshness of a Blanc de Blancs...
Wine Spectator, 96 points: Finely detailed in texture, with an expressive flavor profile of
strawberry pâte de fruit, biscotti, ground anise and ginger,
matched to vivid acidity and a rich, minerally character. Broad and
creamy on the palate...
Showing 5 of 5 wines
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