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.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: Great elegance and finesse already on the perfectly brilliant and aromatic nose shows Pol Roger's 2008 Blanc de Blancs Brut, displaying white and stewed apples with fine citrus flavors and discreet chalky aromas. The...
Wine Enthusiast, 93 points: A lively mousse is the starting point for this wine. It is intensely rich, dense and still young, with a soft background to the ripe white fruits that are cut with lime. From a vintage year whose wines need to age, this...
jamessuckling.com, 93 points: Slightly reductive and gently toasty with more citrus fruits here and a tighter, more compressed and acid-fuelled palate. This has a very succulent, pulpy, bracing and crisp feel complemented by a super-refreshing finish...
Wine Enthusiast, 94 points: This ripe wine with its red fruits and well-balanced texture is beautifully ready to drink, with just the right crisp acidity to balance the soft richness. There is no sign yet of maturity, the fruit from this great...
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