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.
Decanter, 96 points: It is quite something to be invited to the launch of Champagne Veuve Clicquot 2008 at Clos des Lambrays, one of the finest grands crus of Burgundy's Côte de Nuits and acquired by LVMH in April 2014. It was rumoured to...
Wine Enthusiast, 95 points: Cellar Selection. Just beginning to mature, this balanced, ripe wine is complex, with bright acidity, toast and pear and green-plum fruits. It is rich, with a tight mouse that shows intensity as well as a stylish...
Vinous, 94 points: Moët's 2008 Grand Vintage Rosé is fabulous. Light on its feet and gracious, the 2008 impresses with exceptional balance and crystalline purity. There is a translucence to the 2008 that is impossible to miss. Sweet rose...
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...
Wine Spectator, 93 points: A well-cut, minerally version, with a firm backbone of acidity and a
lacy mousse, layered with flavors of baked currant, toast and
lemon curd. Offers a racy, spiced finish. Disgorged January 2016.
Drink now through...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 95 points: The citrus-colored 2008 Amour de Deutz Brut Millésime is still yeasty on the nose, but very clear and elegant on the palate. This is a super pure and mineral, well-balanced Millésime with a long, intense and persistent...
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