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.
jamessuckling.com, 93 points: Cinnamon and dried nutmeg add to the experience of bread dough and rose petals. Flavorful on the medium-bodied palate and finely poised with bright acidity. Medium-long on the finish. Drink now.
Decanter, 97 points: An enticingly rewarding nose of apricot, flint and toast leads to a palate that's just as good and even more developed, with honey, brioche marzipan and bruised apple notes. It has super tension and drive. Compelling...
jamessuckling.com, 92 points: Fine bubbles combine nicely with the cooked apples, pie crust and lemon rind. Some biscuit, too. Full body. Layered and creamy with a crisp finish. Always delicious. Drink now.
jamessuckling.com, 93 points: A fruity and fresh, tangy rosé with peach and apple aromas and flavors and hints of cream and lemon rind. Subtle and satisfying. Drink now.
jamessuckling.com, 95 points: A very fine-textured Champagne with lovely density and finesse. The bubbles roll off the palate. Full body. Extremely creamy and flavorful. Shows wonderful finesse and a lovely, chalky, lemon-curd and brioche aftertaste...
Wine Spectator, 95 points: A seamless Champagne, showing a texture of raw silk, this weaves vibrant
acidity with an expressive range of glazed apple and poached white cherry
fruit flavors, with pickled ginger and saffron spice details and rich...
Wine Spectator, 90 points: A minerally version, layering flavors of poached pear, slivered almond, black cherry and preserved lemon on the finely detailed mousse, firmed by a frame of steely acidity. Drink now. — AN
Vinous, 95 points: Laherte’s NV (2015) Extra Brut Rosé de Saignée Les Baudiers VV is 100% Meunier from vines planted in 1953, 1958 and 1965. Creamy and resonant on the palate, with tremendous aromatic depth, the Beaudiers is flat-out...
Vinous, 94 points: One of the many highlights in this range, the NV Extra Brut Rosé de Meunier is powerful, vinous and structured. It is also quite reticent and not at all forthcoming. A bit more time in bottle should do the trick, though...
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate, 91 points: Based on the 2014 vintage with the addition of 55% reserve wines, the NV Extra Brut saw no dosage and an additional year sur lattes before disgorgement. Unwinding in the glass to reveal aromas of iodine, oyster shells...
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