“Champagne, King of Wines and Wine of Kings.”
Champagne is the crown jewel of any party or celebration. From the first years of its fermentation to the present day, it has been a mark of nobility, prestige and excellence. It is no surprise then, that we celebrate our biggest accomplishments with a fine bottle of champagne.
Champagne has been used in coronation ceremonies of the French kings since medieval times, when French winemakers from the region of Champagne (from which the drink gets its name) developed a superior type of wine meant for the nobility and high classes. For many years, its lighter, thinner body and sparkling texture was only considered suitable for the lips of nobles and kings.
Today, only winemakers from Champagne are permitted to label their wines with the prestigious name, with many countries even going so far as to impose laws that prohibit producers from claiming the title for wines made outside of the region. To make the process even more exclusive, champagne can also only be made using a strict process of specific vineyard practices, double fermentation, and selecting and using the right types of grapes from specially designated parcels of land.
Vintage Champagne or Non-Vintage Champagne?
Vintage champagne is the title given to wine produced from a single harvest in an extraordinary year, and aged for at least three years in the winemaker’s cellars. These extraordinary and rare wines offer full, deep flavors a significant cut above those present in other bottles.
Non-vintage champagne uses grapes and wines from different harvests. This does not mean that non-vintage champagnes are low quality wines, as respectable champagne houses will blend top quality grapes with reserve wines aged in the winery’s cellars - sometimes for as long as fifteen years.
Choosing between the two types of champagne is almost impossible. Any of the following houses we present produce equally good vintage and non-vintage champagne. Of course, one should try both types, but a bottle of vintage champagne will most certainly impress any audience.
Krug Champagne was founded by Joseph Krug in 1843 and is produced in Reims, the Champagne region's busiest city. Located in the heart of the area, with access to the best soil and grapes, Krug is widely considered to deliver some of the best bubbly in the world.
The house’s biggest accomplishment is, undoubtedly, the Krug Grand Cuvée, a single bottle of which combines 120 wines from multiple vineyards. Krug Grand Cuvée is fermented from all three types of grapes used in champagne: Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Its golden color and rich bubbles distinguish this champagne as one of the best in the world.
Pol Roger currently holds a Royal Warrant as champagne supplier to Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II, and is renowned for having also been a favorite of Sir Winston Churchill - whose famous words about champagne (“In victory, deserve it. In defeat, need it!”) are quoted on the house’s prestige Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill label.
The two main types of grapes used to make Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The blend brings together the contrasting qualities of robustness and elegance, gravity and finesse, to memorable effect.
Dom Pérignon is the prestige champagne of Moët & Chandon, one of the top French fine wineries. A vintage champagne, its most recent edition was produced in 2006, although older bottles still circulate for more ambitious buyers.
The champagne is named after Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who perfected the art of wine making, and holds the honor of being the first prestige cuvée champagne ever introduced - an idea proposed by Laurence Venn.
With a tradition spanning several centuries, Gosset is the oldest wine house in Champagne. Initially supplying the King with their signature red wine, chance or fate made the wine around Ay bubble, and the family turned to champagne.
Gosset produces both vintage and non-vintage wines, with special accolades going to Brut Excellence, the vintage prestige cuvee Célebris, and Grand Millésime. The house follows in Krug's footsteps, using Pinot noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier to create its signature taste.
From one generation to the next, the Bollinger family has refined their craft, and now offers some of the best vintage and non-vintage champagne in the world from their vineyards in the very heart of Champagne.
Its classic wine is the non-vintage Special Cuvée; a Pinot-dominated champagne which excels in both complexity and consistency, although the vintage Grand Anée also deserves a mention. This champagne is only deemed ready after at least five years of fermentation, and it is aged in bottles under cork.
A pioneer in both taste and wine making techniques, the Veuve Clicquot house makes champagne quite literally fit for a queen - joining Pol Roger as official suppliers to Queen Elisabeth II, as well as previously supplying the Russian court.
Its distinctive golden label is the perfect embodiment of this champagne's many strengths; exuding as it does sophistication and perfectly judged richness. Using only grapes from the most exclusive Champagne vineyards, Veuve Clicquot tastes just like it looks: golden!
Billecart-Salmon is one of the few champagne houses to be born out of love - founded in 1818 through the marriage of Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon. Today, it remains in the hands of their descendants, with almost two centuries of family wisdom informing its growing and ageing processes.
This house made history with its Cuvee Nicolas-Francois Billecart 1959 , which was named the finest champagne of the millennium in 1999 - with the 2002 vintage Cuvée Nicolas-Francois Billecart considered a close second by many. This wine has a rich complexity enveloped by a fine, subtle texture. At first, you are overwhelmed by its flavor bouquet, only to be later seduced by its simple and unique taste.
The Première Cuvée is the flagship of the Bruno Paillard champagne house. A non-vintage, this champagne uses over 25 wines, some from as early as 1985. Its heaviest influences come from a flavorful Pinot Noir, balanced perfectly with a lighter Chardonnay. The latter gives this champagne a taste that's light and lively, with traces of citrus, while the Pinot brings depth and consistency with flavors of cherry, fig and blackberry.
Perrier-Jouët is a champagne house with tradition and style. Its most prestigious bottle is the vintage Belle Epoque (latest is 2007) - a subtle wine historically reserved for the best restaurants and highest ceremonies. The champagne has a uniquely bright color with fine, vibrant bubbles and an exotic fragrances of Magnolia, honeysuckle and citrus (bergamot, orange, lemon peel) which combine to offer a truly unique taste that's fresh, fruity, and rich.
Louis Roederer is a house characterized by traditional values and prestige cultivated throughout a long and well decorated history. It’s pride and joy is the Cristal Roederer Cuvée de Prestige, which to this day boasts a design influenced by Tsar Alexander II of Russia, who demanded that his cuvée be served only in crystal. The Roederer house complied, and kept the design to great success.
The bottle itself encapsulates true luxury, while its contents hardly disappoint. Its rich bouquet of flavors contains hints of white flowers, chocolate, toasted hazelnuts, and citrus, as well as bearing the mark of Grand Cru grapes. Its composition is 55% Pinot Noir, and 45% Chardonnay, with 20% of the final product blended in oak casks.
How to serve champagne
Champagne is a noble wine, naturally designed to be enjoyed from the very best glasses. The supple shape of champagne flutes not only enhances the aesthetic experience, but also helps the flavors expand, and directs bubbles upwards to enhance that all important sparkle. Joe Colombo, Moser, and Bakalowits & Söhne all offer the very highest quality crystal, perfect for enjoying the very finest champagnes that the world has to offer.