Ayala

AYALA HISTORY

Founded in 1860, Ayala is one of the longest-established Champagne Houses. 

Its Spanish name, unusual in Champagne, derives from Edmond de Ayala (1831-1902), grand-grandson of Don Antonio de Ayala y Vergara, a Spanish aristocrat, who in 1750 was appointed Chancelor (Finance Minister) of New Grenada (now Colombia) by King Ferdinand VI of Spain.

Edmond’s ancestors bequeathed him with a sense of excellence and a taste for adventure that drove him to settle in Aÿ when invited by the Viscount of Mareuil to learn the business. There he fell in love with the Viscount’s niece, the beautiful Miss Gabrielle d’Albrecht.

As the dowry for their wedding in 1860, he receives the magnificent Château of Aÿ as well as some very prime vineyards located in Aÿ and Mareuil sur Aÿ. The love story marks the beginning of this great Champagne House.

Since then Ayala developed rapidly in Great Britain thanks to Fernand de Ayala, Edmond’s younger brother, who in 1863 settled in London where he mixed with British aristocracy and introduced the House’s unique flavour profile to British connoisseurs, notably with the 1865 vintage that had a very low dosage for the time (22g/l).

In 1882, Ayala was one of the 18 founder members of the Syndicate of the Grandes Marques and by the 1920s the House produced over a million bottles each year, ranking amongst the top brands in Champagne.

Before the 2nd world war Ayala was also official supplier to the royal courts of England and Spain.

In 2005, Ayala was purchased by Société Jacques Bollinger, still owned by the Bollinger family.

AYALA HOUSE

Based in the Grand Cru of Aÿ, at the heart of the great champagne vineyards, Ayala produces superior wines known for their freshness, elegance and low dosage.

The House is headed by Hadrien Mouflard who was appointed Managing Director in 2012. Prior to that Mouflard was Administrator at Bollinger.

In 2007, the House invested in a brand new small stainless steel tanks that allowed Ayala to improve significantly the quality of its cuvées.

Ayala is today a “small” great house, artisan of champagne-making. The origin of the grapes, the selection of only the very best juice (the cuvée), a special gift for blending, long ageing in the cellars and a true passion for wine : these are the elements that guarantee the quality of Ayala’s champagnes.

AYALA STYLE

Ayalas’s style is all about freshness and lightness. Ayala pioneered the movement for dry champagnes and continues to preserve the purity and elegance in all their wines.

Low dosage remains part of the house’s philosophy together with an important role of chardonnay in the blends. 

As a result Ayala’s champagnes are popular for their precision, delicacy, freshness and elegance. 

Caroline Latrive was appointed cellar master of Ayala in 2011, replacing Nicolas Klym who has been the chef de cave for over 25 years.

Ayala champagnes are above all wines. That is why the back labels give all the important information about the cuvées as well as the date of disgorgement, wich enables the aficionados to better manage their cellar.

 

AYALA champagnes


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Armand de Brignac

Armand de Brignac History

Armand de Brignac is produced by the award-winning Champagne Cattier House of Chigny-les-Roses, France.

The Cattier family has owned and cultivated vineyards since 1763.

However it was only in the late 1940s that the original “de Brignac” name was registered by the Cattier family, probably chosen at that time by Jean-Jacques Cattier’s mother, who had been reading a novel featuring a character named de Brignac.

The brand was dormant until 2006, in occasion of the introduction of a new champagne, as the French industry group Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne(CIVC) requires the use of an existing brand in order for a wine to be deemed “champagne”.

From that moment, Cattier began a collaboration with Sovereign Brands to market the brand, and a separate website for the newly named Armand de Brignac was established.

The first champagne launched was Armand de Brignac Brut Gold (Ace of Spades), characterised by a gold-coloured bottle conceived by French fashion designer André Courréges, with a pewter label made in an ace of spades insignias, symbolising the Champagne region’s regal history and heritage.

The brand first gained worldwide visibility in the music video for rapper Jay-Z song “Show Me What You Got” , which debuted in late October, 2006.

In 2008 Armand de Brignac Rosé and Armand de Brignac Blanc de Blancs were launched.

In 2009 Armand De Brignac arrived first in a blind tasting of 100 champagnes by Fine Champagne Magazine.

In 2014 Jay- Z acquired the champagne brand Armand De Brignac from Sovereign Brands.

Armand de Brignac House

Classified as a N.M. – French denomination for Négociant-Manipulant – Cattier produces its champagnes directly from its vineyards but also utilising grapes acquired from small producers.

Annual sales stand at a million bottles, 60 % of which are exported to over 70 countries.

Today, the house remains independently-owned and run by the Cattier family.

Patriarch Jean-Jacques Cattier oversees the wine production; with strictly limited annual yields, M. Cattier and his staff can ensure that the family’s artisanal winemaking traditions are kept alive in each bottle.

The family owns more than 30 ha vineyards in the Montagne de Reims part of Champagne, included the prestigious Clos du Moulin, Premier Cru.

All the vineyards are cultivated following responsible viticultural methods and the entire production is gradually introducing the HACCP standards.

Chairman and CEO is Alexandre Cattier, Jean-Jacques Cattier’s son, who is also the Cellar Master of the House.

The House has gained a high-profile fan base including actors Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney and athletes Roger Federer and Luis Figo.

Armand de Brignac has also the merit to have revolutionised the world of luxury large-format champagne bottles: besides the standard-size 750ml bottles, the range includes Magnums (1.5L), Jeroboams (3L), Methuselahs (6L), Nebuchadnezzars (15L) and the unparalleled Midas (30L).

These extremely rare bottles – only a handful of the largest sizes are released annually – are also record-setters: the Rosé Nebuchadnezzar (15L), with a volume equivalent to 20 standard bottles, is the world’s largest known Rosé Champagne bottle, while the Brut Gold Midas, with a weight of more than 45kg (100 lbs), is ranked as the largest luxury bottle of Champagne – of any type – ever created, requiring multiple people to lift, carry, or pour.

Armand de Brignac Style

The quality of Armand de Brignac is rooted in the time-honored traditions of its production, under the guidance of father and son winemakers Jean-Jacques and Alexandre Cattier and a staff of only eight craftspeople.

Although many of Champagne’s producers now use industrial-grade, high volume presses, the family employs a traditional Coquart press for its prestigious champagne: this ensures a slow and high-quality yield is extracted from the grapes.

These are selected  from the finest vineyards in La Marne, including Grand Crus villages like Cramant, Avize, Oger, and Choilly, and Premier Cru towns including Ludes, Rilly-la-Montagne, Villers Allerand, Taissy, Villers Marmery, and Mareuil-sur-Ay.

Complex and full-bodied, Armand de Brignac champagnes derive their light, racy effervescence from the quality of the Chardonnay grapes, while Pinot Noir lends strength, boldness, and depth of palate. Finally, Pinot Meunier adds roundness, nuance, and fruitiness to the cuvées.

Each of the wines produced are considered prestige releases and are all multi-vintage, consisting of three distinct years in each blend.

The dosage, created from a blend of still wines from prior harvests and aged for a full year in oaken casks from Burgundy and Champagne, imparts subtle nuances to the champagne.

The ageing lasts from four to five years in the chalk cellars and the remuage is done by hand.

Armand de Brignac champagnes


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Barons de Rothschild

BARONS DE ROTHSCHILD History 

The Rothschild family has long been involved in numerous wine projects around the world, including their namesake Bordeaux.

In 2005 the three branches of the Rothschild family have come together and given rise to a single ambition: combine the best terroirs with their know-how to create champagne Barons de Rothschild.

The three Rothschild cousins – Baron Benjamin, a Geneva banker who also owns Chateau Clarke, Baron Eric, owner of Chateau Lafite and several other estates and Baroness Philippine along with her son Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, owners of Chateau Mouton – wanted the champagnes to enter their heavy portfolio of wines and spotted the ideal place for the production in the Cave Vertus in Reims.

Thus, they created three champagnes cuvées: Barons de Rothschild Brut, Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs and Barons de Rothschild Rosé.

Barons de Rothschild House

The Barons de Rothschild started the champagne production with the ambition to do the best quality champagne they can.

One of their important first steps was to locate adequate supply of quality grapes, especially Chardonnay, which is what they wanted for the primary base of their champagnes.

This was a bold choice for a new House, as Chardonnay is the most scarce and most expensive grape in Champagne.

They wanted to purchase their own vineyards, but they needed to find a sufficiently large vineyard – at least 10-15 acres – while they found some very small plots and they did not like the idea to have a collection of tiny plots scattered about.

Eventually, they discovered what they sought in the Côtes des Blanc region, and settled long term contracts with selected vignerons in the finest Grands and Premiers Crus areas.

They began selling their champagnes in 2009, selecting Japan as their initial market, as all three branches of the family had connections in this country.

After Japan, the Rothschilds began selling their champagnes in Switzerland and Belgium, both which proved very good markets.

They are continuing to expand their distribution and sell about 250,000 bottles annually. They are now trying to expand into the U.S..

As part of their plans, they have chosen to serve their champagne at all of their formal events and functions, worldwide, to stand behind their product.

Managing Director of the House is Frédéric Mairesse who has been previously Operations Director at LVMH, at Mumm et Perrier Joüet and at Pommery & Lanson.

The bottles and the logo were designed by Baroness Philippine (1933-2014) who was given a lifetime achievement award by the Institute of Masters of Wine in 2013. 

Barons de Rothschild Style

The champagnes of Barons de Rothschild are quality wines, which can stand head next to comparable champagnes of the major Champagne Houses.

The three champagnes produced – Barons de Rothschild Brut, Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs and Barons de Rothschild Rosé – all have Chardonnay as the major contributing varietal and an elegant, light and refined style.

Their blends include about 40% of reserve wine and have a low dosage, about 6-8 grams per litre so to be more palatable.

 

Barons de Rothschild champagnes


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Besserat de Bellefon

Besserat de Bellefon History

Besserat de Bellefon was founded by Eduard Besserat in 1843. Native of Hautvillers – the village where the monk Dom Perignon 200 years before perfected his “methode champenoise” – Edouard Besserat acquired his great expertise in making Champagne wines which he distributed to leading hotels, restaurants and purveyors of fine wines.

Following Edouard the family continued his legacy. His two sons Victor and Edmond continued the House’s commitment to excellence. An outstanding winemaker and the other a great taster and gifted businessman, both worked to build and increase the renown and the image of the house. Some years later, in 1927, Edmond , married Yvonne de Meric de Bellefon, who came from another prestigious Champagne family, and their marriage gave birth to the house of Besserat de Bellefon.

In 1930 the House created a lightly sparkling champagne that could be drunk throughout a meal, the champagne range known today as Cuvée des Moines (Cuvée of the Monks). The introduction of this cuvée resulted from the challenge issued by the owner of ‘’La Samaritaine de Luxe’’ – a then-famous Paris restaurant – to Victor Besserat, to offer his patrons a champagne with a light sparkle, fine froth, great finesse and specially made to drink through a meal.

To meet the request, Victor decided to use the ‘’crémant’’ method. Not only Victor won the business, but from that moment Cuvée des Moines became the jewel of the House, quickly making its appearance on the greatest tables of Paris of the time, including Maxim’s, Lucas-Carton, La Méditerranée and Prunier.

In 1972 the House introduced the Cuvée des Moines Rosé. Today the tradition of Besserat de Bellefon holds firm as the only exclusive “on-trade” champagne to be found in the most elegant and stylish bars, hotels and restaurants in the world.

Besserat de Bellefon House

Besserat de Bellefon, with its historic Bellefon Château, is on the world-renowned Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, in the heart of the Champagne region. Prior to enter into the Group Boizel Chanoine Champagne in 2006 – which would then become the second largest producer and distributor of champagne in the world, behind luxury products group LVMH – the brand was acquired by Pernot-Ricard group in 1971 and then to the Group Marne et Champagne.

It is thanks to Boizel Chanoine Champagne group – with Bruno Paillard as principal shareholder and with others top champagne brands in the portfolio such as Lanson, Boizel, Philipponnat and de Venoge – if the House has rebuilt its image after these change of hands.

Thanks to Lanson’s President, Philippe Baijot, Besserat de Bellefon has reinforced its image linked to the gastronomy, so becoming the specialist retail champagne brand, focusing in traditional networks such as restaurants and wine stores.

The house owns no vineyards, purchasing grapes from 110 communes (among which Le Mesnil sur Oger, Chouilly, Cramant, Grauves, Fontaine Denis, Bisseuil, Bassuet, Boursault, Venteuil, Reuil and Verzenay) and produces approximately 1,300,000 bottles annually, of which about 40,000 cases Cuvée des Moines. Besserat de Bellefon’s Wine Maker is Cedric Thiebault.

Besserat de Bellefon Style

Besserat most renowned champagne range, Cuvée des Moines, was named in honor of the early Benedictine monks who were instrumental in developing the Champagne method. The crémant winemaking technique used for this champagne range employs a reduced dosage, which lowers the bottle pressure about one atmosphere, so that the champagne is soft, creamy and packed with tiny bubbles.

The same approach is used for the other cuvées, resulting in champagnes with tiny bubbles, lighter pressure, finer mousse and a creamier texture. The House does not use malolactic fermentation so to maintain crisp acidity and a more fruit-forward profile.

At Vinexpo 2013, in Bordeaux, the House has presented its initial Cuvée BdeB, a prestige vintage released in celebration of the house’s 170th anniversary, selecting the 2008 and 2009 harvest grapes – predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with only 10% Meunier – for this classic, creamy, mineral champagne according to Cedric Thiebault, Besserat de Bellefon’s winemaker.

This prestige cuvée whose only 7,000 bottles are being released has bubbles that are 30% finer than other champagnes of its class.

Besserat de Bellefon champagnes


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Billecart-Salmon

Billecart-Salmon History

Founded in 1818 by husband and wife Nicolas François Billecart and Elisabeth Salmon, the Billecart-Salmon House is rich with history.

For nearly two hundred years, the Billecart family has been handing down the secrets to making exceptional champagne from generation to generation.

Billecart-Salmon House

Today the House is still independent and is run by the family’s 6th generation: François Roland-Billecart

Billecart-Salmon’s own vineyard covers around 50 hectares, and the House source its grapes from a total of 170 hectares of land, paying particular attention to selecting the best grapes.

For this, the family has forged close and courteous relationships with the winegrowers of the Champagne region.

In addition, Billecart-Salmon family cultivates one hectare of Pinot Noir on a single, enclosed parcel at the foot of the Mareuil-sur-Aÿ hill: the Clos Saint Hilaire. The champagne produced from this plot is renowned for the complexity and rarity of its aromas.

Billecart-Salmon Style

The Billecart-Salmon House has always used modern and innovative technology to constantly improve the quality of its champagne.

From the Côte des Blancs to the Reims Mountain, not forgetting the right bank of the Marne River, the greatest vintages of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are used.

These superb wines are crafted by Chefs de Caves Françoi Domi and Florent Nys, two charismatic characters who are perfectly in line with the family’s spirit of simplicity and constant quest for a great pleasure.

They ensure the conformity of the flavours and finesse of the blends. The bottles are then aged in a vast network of cellars, dating back to the 17th and 19th centuries.

Billecart-Salmon Champagnes


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Boizel

Boizel History

Auguste Boizel founded its Champagne House in 1834 at the age of 33. Him and his wife Julie Martin, a descendant of a long line of winegrowers established in Aÿ since the 16th century, decided to devote themselves and invest everything into the great Champagne adventure. The couple were among the first in Champagne, to apply a label on their bottles. Through enthusiasm and perseverance, they managed to create fine champagnes and their reputation gradually grew in France and abroad.

After the death of Auguste in 1876, his son Edouard became president at the age of 32. He too married in 1865 a lady from Aÿ, Adèle Camuset, descendant from the Camuset Champagne house, founded in 1796 during the French Revolution. Edouard and Adèle added their touch to the House’s style by reducing the dosages (amount of sugar added after disgorgment) and elaborationg the House’s first true Bruts. At the time, Champagne was usually consumed very sweet. At the request of the English, Champagnes would be sweetened less and less.

In 1918 Jules succeeded his father Edouard.With his wife Louise, they concentrated on refining non-vintage Brut Champagnes, which became more and more delicate and authentic.  This enabled the House to be the suppliers to great Paris’ establishments such as Maxim’s and le Royal Monceau. Jules also grew exports to Belgium and Switzerland, and even to Australia.

In 1929, a historical vintage for Champagne, the House’s introduced its first Blanc de Blancs champagne, a very unusual choice at the time.  

In 1945 René Boizel took over the company which had been rocked by the crisis of 1929 and the Second World War. Supported  by his Dutch wife, Erica, he devoted the first years to the difficult task of rebuilding the stocks, vital for the company’s sustainability. He then commited himself to the reconquest of new markets. He successfully grew sales in Europe – Belgium, the Netherlands, West Germany…

In 1972, following the tragic deaths of René and his son Eric, his daughter Evelyne and son-in-law, Christopher, returned to Champagne to train themselves in the business with the invaluable assistance of the cellar master, Marcel Carré.

In 1994 Evelyne and Christophe decided to join Lanson-BCC, the second largest champagne group, allowing to promote the harmonious development of Boizel while preserving both the spirit of excellence and the Boizel family tradition.

Boizel House

Today Evelyne Roques-Boizel runs the House and continues its tradition, developing great Champagne wines. As she puts it, “is simply a matter of passion!” Boizel’s sixth generation is now also actively involved with Florent and Lionel having joined the House.

The involvement of the family in all stages of production, from the vine to the glass, and Boizel’s deep roots in Epernay, in the heart of Champagne, are two major strengths for the House.

This love for Champagne and the passionate pursuit of finesse, character and elegance in the wines are authentic family values.

Boizel Champagne can’t be found in supermarkets nor in specialist stores in France. Boizel is the first house for mail order on the French market. It distributes its cuvées with the help of merchants abroad.

Boizel Style

Champagne Boizel has a heritage of more than 175 years. The house style is quite traditional, mature and rich in personality with a notable Pinot Noir character.

As it has no vineyards, relationship between winemakers and Boizel is close to obtain the best raw material from grands et premiers crus in September. Materials are always well elaborated with a beautiful density and a dosage which is able to highlight the minerality and fruit.

Only the first pressing, the cuvée, the finest juice will be selected for the Boizel blends. In the ultramodern winery, all the vats are made stainless steel, the temperature is maintained at 18° throughout fermentation, in order to preserve the natural aromas. Boizel allows malolactic fermentation of its wines, resulting in a more supple texture.

For vintage champagnes, Boizel vinifies in oak barrels a small percentage of Grand Cru wines.

Boizel keeps its cuvées in cellars for at least three years, twice what is required by law for non-vintage champagnes. The vintage blends require an even longer period: their aromas do not unfold completely until five to seven years have passed.

Similarly, after dosage, Boizel insists on a resting period of a few months.

 

Boizel champagnes


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Bollinger

Bollinger History

The history of Bollinger is the history of a family that has passionately defended its values and know-how since the House’s inception in the Champagne village of Aÿ back in 1829.

In 1803 Jacques Joseph Placide Bollinger was born in Ellwangen, in the kingdom of Württemberg. In 1822, he moved to the Champagne region and began work at the Champagne house of Muller Ruinart, which no longer exists.

The Champagne house Renaudin Bollinger was founded on February 6, 1829 in Aÿ by Hennequin de Villermont, Paul Levieux Renaudin and Jacques Bollinger. The partners agreed that the Villermont name would not be used on the labels, hence the house name Renaudin Bollinger. Starting when Jacques Bollinger married Charlotte de Villermont, the house has been managed by the Bollinger family. Even though Paul Renaudin passed without an heir his name, the label did not become solely Bollinger until the 1960s.

Founder Jacques Joseph Bollinger married Charlotte de Villermont. The couple had a daughter, Marie, who had two sons Joseph and Georges. These sons took over the company in 1885 and began expanding the family estate by purchasing vineyards in nearby villages. The sons also developed the image of the brand, such as when Bollinger became the official supplier to the British court, receiving a Royal Warrant in 1884 from Queen Victoria.

In 1918 Jacques Bollinger, the son of Georges, took over the company. Jacques married Emily Law de Lauriston Bourbers, known as “Lilly”. When Jacques Bollinger died in 1941, Lilly Bollinger took over. She expanded production through the purchase of more vineyards, but is better known for traveling the world to promote the brand. Lilly was well-publicized in the Champagne region, leaving several noteworthy quotes.  “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”  Lilly managed Bollinger until 1971, when her nephews Claude d’Hautefeuille and Christian Bizot succeeded her.

Bollinger House

Six generations of the Bollinger family have built up an impressive heritage, becoming one of the most emblematic Houses of the Champagne region.

Today the House remains resolutely independent. Bollinger maintains more than 150 hectares of vineyards

As it has gradually expanded throughout the world, it has become a major global brand name. Bollinger is regularly feature in James Bond film series.

Bollinger Style

Owning 164 hectares in the best crus of the Champagne region, Bollinger benefits a grape supply of superior quality, predominantly Pinot Noir which forms the backbone of the Bollinger style.

Champagne Bollinger has never abandoned the ancient method of fermentation in wooden barrels, which helps develop aromas of great finesse and is conducive to micro-oxygenation, enabling the wine to resist premature ageing.

Vinification in wooden barrels is reserved for grapes from the best parcels of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay located exclusively in the Premier and Grand crus.

Most of the reserve wines are kept in magnums; the Bollinger cellars shelter a stock of more than 650.000 magnums which age for 5 to 15 years or more before being used in the blend.

They undergo a light secondary fermentation under natural cork to protect them from oxidation and improve the complexity of Special Cuvée.

Finally, all Bollinger champagnes age more than twice as long as required by the Appellation rules.

Bollinger Champagnes


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Bruno Paillard

Bruno Paillard History

Bruno Paillard was born in Reims in 1953. His lineage of brokers and growers in the two Grands Crus villages of Bouzy and Verzenay dates back to 1704. Following in the family’s foot steps, he starts working as a broker in 1975 acquiring a deep and extensive knowledge of champagne.

But after 6 years, he is taken by the overwhelming desire to create a different champagne: one that would go beyond what existed in terms of purity and elegance.  We are in January 1981, Bruno Paillard is 27 years old, and with nothing but his will – no vineyards, no money – he sells his old Jaguar that had become a collector item to provide his company with a starting capital of 50,000 francs (15,000 Euros).

In 1984, Bruno Paillard invents the first totally “ground level” cellar. This brand new concept allows an extremely strict control of temperatures, lighting and humidity.

In 1990, Bruno Paillard draws the current winery with his architect Jacques Bléhaut: a state of the art structure with stainless steel, glass and wood symbolizing the 3 noble vessels of Champagne.  Revolutionary, this new cellar combines the traditional know how with the newest qualitative techniques.

In 1994, Bruno Paillard purchases his first vineyard: 3 hectares in Oger, a beautiful Grand Cru of the Côte des Blancs. Now, the vineyards of the house cover 32 hectares – half of the production needs – including 12 hectares of Grand Crus : Oger, Le Mesnil, Bouzy,Verzenay. The remaining half are today still purchased to the same independent growers families since the early 80’s.

In January 2007 Bruno’s daughter Alice, one of four children, decided to join and continue the Paillard family adventure. Starting in the vineyards and then in the cellar for the first year, following with export development, Alice is now a shareholder and co-manages the House with her father.

Bruno Paillard House

The house of Bruno Paillard is among the youngest Champagne houses and still one of the smallest. It owns and runs a high quality vineyard spread over 26 hectares – of which 12 deserve the denomination “Grand Cru”. It produces around 550.000 bottles (45.000 cases) – over 75 % are exported to all European countries, U.S. and Japan.

The house specialises in the production of Multi-Vintage luxury cuvées as well as in vintages. Wherever they are represented, the champagnes Bruno Paillard are sold through traditional outlets, i.e. restaurants, specialist stores (“cavistes”), mail order clubs, etc… and never in supermarkets.

Bruno Paillard Style

Bruno Paillard style is the marriage of elegance and complexity which translates into a light and smooth effervescence, a remarkable purity, a true freshness and a silky texture.

Bruno Paillard Champagnes are produced by the traditional method and from the best possible grapes in the Champagne area under the personal supervision of its owner Bruno. The new premises just outside Reims, on the road to Epernay, are modern, efficient and dedicated to quality.

Bruno is used to says: “Je signe les Champagnes rares” (I sign the rare Champagnes). Champagne is above all elegance.

The Bruno Paillard range offers 3 multi-vintage Champagnes, plus several vintages some of which are now very rare. They are all Brut (Extra-Brut in fact). (The house does not produce a Sec or Demi-Sec) and the dosage is kept as low as possible in order to respect the authenticity of the wines. Furthermore, each and every bottle carries the date of its “dégorgement”, information which the house of Bruno Paillard was the first one to give on all its wines. At this stage, the “dosage” is added and the final cork is sealed. This operation makes it necessary to open the bottle, thus causing the loss of a small proportion of carbon dioxide and its replacement by oxygen.

From this date, therefore, a new process of ageing starts, which will cause oxidization and eventually “madeirisation”. This is why this date of dégorgement is so important. Bruno Paillard House recommends that the wine should be drunk at least 6 months or even several years after this date, provided it is well stored, bottles lying in a dark and cool cellar.

Bruno Paillard Champagnes


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Cattier

Cattier History

Cattier is a family-owned Champagne House situated in the village of Chigny-les-Roses in the Montgne de Reims, between Reims and Epernay.

The Cattier family have been vineyard owners since 1763, and started to produce champagnes under their own name in 1918.

The House remains independently-owned and run by the family with a staff of fewer than 20 people. Patriarch Jean-Jacques Cattier oversees the wine production with strictly limited annual yields.

Cattier House

Classified as a NM – French denomination for Négociant-Manipulant – Cattier produces its champagnes directly from its vineyards but also utilising grapes acquired from small producers, with annual sales of a million bottles, 60 % of which are exported to over 70 countries.

The family owns more than 30 ha vineyards in the Montagne de Reims part of Champagne included the prestigious Clos du Moulin, Premier Crus.

The House also produces the ultra premium Armand de Brignac champagne, born in 2006 from the resurrection of a dormant champagne name, de Brignac, and voted in a blind tasting organised by Fine Champagne Magazine as the No.1 Champagne in the world.

Chairman and CEO is Alexandre Cattier, Jean-Jacques Cattier’s son, who is also the Cellar Master of the House.

Cattier Style

Cattier produces a number of champagnes ranging in varietal composition from 100% Chardonnay (Blanc de Blancs) to 75% dark-skinned Pinots (Noir and Meunier) and 25% Chardonnay.

Cattier’s vineyards, mainly classified as Premier Crus, stretch for more than 30 hectares and include one of Champagne’s rarest “Clos”, the Clos du Moulin.

All the vineyards are cultivated following responsible viticultural methods in order to preserve the environment and the terroir and the entire production is gradually introducing the HACCP standards.

The cellars of Cattier are one of the deepest in Champagne, providing ideal conditions for ageing with a low, constant temperature, with the vaults dug on 3 levels, each corresponding to a different architecture style, Gothic, Roman and Renaissance.

The four simple golden rules of Cattier can be tasted in every bottle: excellence, creativity, spirit of enterprise and respect.

Cattier Champagnes

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Charles Heidsieck

CHARLES HEIDSIECK HISTORY

In 1851 Charles-Camille Heidsieck created the Champagne House which branded his name. He set high standards in grape selection and improved the production method of the age. An extraordinary individual, ahead of his time, Charles established a prestigious lineage. From the very start, Charles Heidsieck wines managed to seduce the royal courts of Europe and the great patrons of the times.

The tireless producer then set out to America in 1852 where he gained immediate success. Having returned to Reims, he devoted all his energy to the consolidation of the House’s position by further improving the quality and harmony of its wines.

In 1859 the House and its wines earned their first medals during the Universal Exhibition.

Without any advertising and only through word-of-mouth, Charles Heidsieck wines earned its reputation in aristocratic circles and was established as the Champagne of the royal houses of Europe.

CHARLES HEIDSIECK HOUSE

In 2011, ownership of the House transfers to the Descours family, whose only ambition is to make it the very best. This translated in the appointment of Cecile Bonnefond, former President of Veuve Clicquote, as President and CEO.

Charles Heidsieck has consolidated its position as the champagne for “those who know”. Charles Heidsieck champagne today is one of the most recognised by the profession. The awards belong to the cellar masters who, over the course of the past two decades, have been named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year thirteen times in the International Wine Challenge (IWC).

The champagnes too have been awarded 11 Grand Or medals, 101 Gold medals (37 between 2008 and 2011), 25 Silver medals and some 32 trophies.

CHARLES HEIDSIECK STYLE

For generations of dedicated and inspired cellar masters result in a Multi-Vintage cuvée made of one third of each varietal from a single year (representing 60% of the overall blend) with the remaining 40% made up of reserve wines. The wines age in chalk cellars for between three to fifteen years, a process key to their finesse. Since 1990, multi-vintage bottles  display the dates both of their cellaring and disgorgement.

Charles Heidsieck champagnes are characterised by freshness and elegance from the Chardonnay, structure from the Pinot Noir and a generous helping of fruit from the Pinot Meunier.

With a wealth of secrets passed on by Daniel Thibault, star cellar master of Champagne at sister house Piper-Heidsieck, Thierry Roset, Cellar Master of Charles Heidsieck, has been cultivating this art for a long time. Thierry Roset created delicious harmonies with aplomb, using the notes obtained from vinification in separate vats, creating delicate balance between complexity, depth and texture, until his premature death in 2014.

Roset has been replaced in May 2015 by Cyril Brun, formerly senior winemaker at Veuve Clicquot, Brun, with his expertise and passion, is committed to continue the exceptional work carried out by his predecessors.

Whereas the Champagne Appellation stipulates a minimum 15-month ageing period, Charles Heidsieck ages its multi-vintage champagnes for at least three years. Stored in a maze of forty-seven chalk cellars, they lie in galleries twenty metres underground where the temperature remains a constant 10%, ideal for ageing gracefully.

CHARLES HEIDSIECK CHAMPAGNES


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de Venoge

DE VENOGE HISTORY

In 1825 Henri-Marc de Venoge set up in trade in Mareuil-sur-Ay, a business that in 1837 was to become the Champagne House that carries his name. 6,000 bottles were sold in March 1838 and 22,000 in April of the same year.

By May 1838 sales were being made to clients in Brussels and Mannheim and 10,000 more bottles had been sent out.

The next stops on the de Venoge expansion programme were London, Pforzheim, Karlsruhe, Fribourg, Ulm, Munich, Antwerp and Copenhagen.

Henri-Marc de Venoge was also the first to illustrate his labels, which was a completely new concept in Champagne.

Until then, labels had simply shown the name of the producer and the vintage. In 1837, Henri-Marc designed an oval label sporting two painted bottles and the de Venoge name. He retired in 1845 and died in 1860.

Joseph de Venoge, was the true driving force behind the firm established by his father. He launched the brand on the international scene with the help of his brother, Léon who settled in the United States.

Soon, champagne was being dispatched to New-York, New Orleans, Philadephia, Port-au-Prince and even Calcutta.

He took over as Chairman in 1845 and launched the first special cuvees which later became brands in their own right: Cordon Bleu in 1851, Vin des Princes in 1858 and Vin du Paradis etc. He died in 1866. A road in Epernay still carries his name.

Gaetan de Venoge joined the firm in 1864 as export manager, which has always been the stepping stone towards general management at de Venoge.

He was one of the founders of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques, created in 1872. The greatest Champagne Houses belong to it, united in defence of the appellation and the quality of the wines of Champagne.

Marquis Adrien de Mun who quickly joined his father-in-law, Gaetan who died in 1898 allowed his name to be associated with that of de Venoge, thereby introducing the brand into Paris’ high society.

At that time de Venoge was dispatching over one million bottles against a total of 30 million for the whole of Champagne.

The Marquis de Mun died in 1922 and left his mother-in-law and his widow in charge of the company.

The last direct heir of the de Venoge family left the helm of the firm in 1958 but we aim still to perpetuate the traditional quest for quality and innovation.

DE VENOGE STYLE

Today De Venoge is part of Lanson-BCC, the second largest group in Champagne after Moët Hennessy. Under the leadership of its President Gilles de la Bassetiere the House sells approximately 700,000 bottles annually, of which 50% in France and 50% abroad.

DE VENOGE STYLE

De Venoge style is characterised by vinosity with freshness. The House only uses the first pressing [cuvée] and age its wines for at least 3 years, while using a very low dosage (about 7 grams per liter), and this is where the freshness comes from.

Each cuvée in De Venoge’s range of champagnes is highly individual, expressing the richness of its terroir and the typicity of a particular grape variety. Each one is easily matched with various types of food.

DE VENOGE CHAMPAGNES


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Delamotte

Champagne Delamotte : The taste of chardonnay

Since 1760 Maison Delamotte produces wine characterised by consistent quality and unflagging respect for the terroir and the Côte des Blancs.

Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Avize and Oger are villages where Chardonnay lights up the landscape. This delicate variety, confronted in the Côte des Blancs with a striking terroir, finds here the perfect combination to preserve its freshness intact over time.

Champagne Delamotte expresses to perfection the characteristics of this noble variety. Light, gossamer-textured, impertinent, more complex with ageing, discrete yet present, heady but not heavy. Champagne at any time, for any occasion.

To learn more about Delamotte read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Didier Depondhttp://www.bestchampagne.fr/didier-depond-salon-delamotte-interview


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Deutz

Deutz, formerly known as Deutz Geldermann,has its roots in Ay, one of Champagne’s historic and most renowned terroir.The house was founded in 1838 through the association of William Deutz with Pierre-Hubert Geldermann, both wine merchants from Aix-La Chapelle.Convinced that a fine vineyard was the cornerstone of great wines, Geldermann, a Champagne salesman, and Deutz, a negociant, started buying top quality plots and making wine. By combining their technical expertise, knowledge of markets and will to succeed, they developed the firm internationally.

When René Deutz and Alfred Geldermann inherited the business from their fathers in the late 1860s, sales of their Champagne had been consistently rising for years and even under René Deutz and Marie and Alfred Deutz-Geldermann’s sons in law, respectively René Lallier and Charles Van Cassel, Deutz was growing, taking its place among the great Houses of Champagne and becoming a founding member of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques.

Nevertheless, during the Great Depression, Marie Deutz Geldermann had to reinvest a large part of her considerable personal wealth into the company to avoid the disaster and chose a new commercial director to replace Charles Van Cassel and by 1934, a normal rhythm returned to the financial affairs of Deutz: 132,530 bottles sold, two thirds on the French market.

Antoher difficult year was 1938, just before world war second, when René Lallier died and his son, Jean Lallier had to get the House through the wary years, with no money to buy grapes, no bottles and above all no men to make the wine.

Deutz survived on 200,000 bottles a year up to the 1950s. In the 80s and 90s, Andrè Lallier had to organize the reconstitution of the champagne stocks: while maintaining many of the wine making techniques taught him by his father, André also implemented many technical upgrades in the winery – finer presses, a better tank room, and an improved disgorgement.

In 1988, Deutz formed a partnership with New Zealand producer Montana Wines to make sparkling wines in the Marlborough region of New Zealand and in 1993, the majority of the property was acquired by Louis Roederer’s group.

Over the years, the House has been rewardedwith silver, bronze and regional medals at Decanter’s annual World Wine Awards, while both its Brut and Rose styles of Champagne have received gold and silver awards at London’s prestigious International Wine Challenge.

The family still actively participates in the business: Jean Lallier, André Lallier’s son, still works in the House as Export Director.

Deutz House
Founded in 1838, Deutz is still situated in one of the region’s greatest villages, Aÿ, where the family – now rapresented by Jean Lallier, sixth generation descendant of founder William Deutz – owns 42 hectares vineyards and a magnificent residence in Bellepoque style.

In 1993 the House was taken over by another financial partner, Louis Roederer champagne House, though the two kept operating independently and have different styles and characteristics.

The House has also experimented a partnership with Beringer Wine Estates and a San Luis Obispo landowner to form the Californian sparkling wine producer Maison Deutz, but the estate didn’t produce the financial results expected and Deutz sold its interest in the company to the Californian winemaker, who rebranded the wine as Laetitia.

Nevertheless, inspite of the limited acreage, Deutz produces 1,4 million bottles per year, with more than half a million magnums and many more 75cl size bottles, ranking among the top six champagne houses in terms of quality.

The House produces both vintages and non vintages champagnes, along with the prestige cuvé “Amour de Deutz”, applying a policy of sustainable vineyard management: every plot is treated separately, according to its vigour and the specific situation, selecting only top quality grapes from 275 acres of vineyards in the finest crus of Champagne and slowly and carefully ageing them in Deutz’ chalk-walled cellars, between 60 and 180 feet below the vines.

Deutz cellar master is Michel Davesne, while Export Manager since 1996, year of the retirement of Andrè Lallier, is his son Jean Marc, member of the Deutz sixth generations.

Chairman and CEO is Fabrice Rosset, with 20-year sales and marketing expertise at champagne Louis Roederer.

Deutz Style
Since its foundation in 1838 Deutz champagnes have been characterized by the 3 F:Finesse, Freshness & Fine.

Throughout its history Deutz has become the epitome of understated excellence and this is due to the work done by each generation, every one making the effort to develop the brand whilst maintaining many of the wine-making techniques and philosophies instilled since the early times: Deutz selects only top quality grapes, almost 80% of these coming from “Grand Cru” and “Premier Cru” villages , vinifies them in vats of stainless steel instead of wood, temperature controlled – some of them are completely frozen to imitate the winter, season in which the Champagne is transported – and avoids all oxidation.

Even off the press, grapes must show excellent balance, with an average potential alcoholic strength of 10,7° and 8 grams/litre of acidity.

The philosophy of the House is based on precision and patience, cellar master must retain only the best quality pressings from all grapes and each vat must contain the still wine from a carefully identified vineyard plot.

The champagnes are hence characterized by finesse, elegant vinosity and complexity, as it can be noted in Champagne Deutz Brut Classic: first released in 1994, this fine multi-vintage Champagne, blended from selected harvests, has been the latest step in the brand’s evolution, with its smooth
silky style and texture on the palate and the complexity and sophistication of a very fine wine.

 Deutz Champagnes


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Dom Perignon

Dom Pérignon History

Dom Pérignon is the prestige cuvée of the champagne House Moët & Chandon and is always a vintage champagne, with grapes used to make the wine harvested in the same year.

It is named after Dom Pierre Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who was long held up as the man who discovered the secret of putting bubbles into wine: contrary to popular myths he did not discover the champagne method for making sparkling wines, but is correctly considered as a starting point for champagne’s modern history.

Dom Pérignon had the brilliant idea to assemble the wines between them in such a way that qualities of the ones are added to those of the others and succeeded in perfecting the art of producing clear white wines from black grapes, an essential practice considering about 40% of Champagne’s vineyards are occupied by Pinot Noir.

Thus, by clever manipulation of the presses, he enhanced the tendency of Champagne wines to retain their natural sugar in order to naturally induce secondary fermentation in the spring, understanding that the sap begin to work in the vine and that the yeasts wake and proliferate, thus allowing the wine become effervescent with a second, short-lived fermentation.

Alongside these innovations, he also introduced corks (instead of wood) and, having understood that the pressure was due to the carbon dioxide, he decided to use bottle made of thicker glass.

The work of Pierre Pérignon was very extensive and his champagne was regularly served at Versailles, at the court of Louis XIV.

Tough the development of sparkling wines as the main style of production in Champagne occurred progressively in the 19th century, it is thanks to Dom Perignon if many notable improvements in wine-making are still practiced today.

When he died, at the beginning of the XVIII century, champagne wines were favorite at the King’s court. Louis XVI and especially Madame de Pompadour would have brag for the champagne as we know it today.

The first vintage of Dom Pérignon was 1921 and the name “Dom Perignon” was proposed by Laurence Venn, an English publicist at Simon Brothers, Moët & Chandon’s London agency, who had the idea to create an exceptional quality champagne to be sold on allocation (at a higher price) to the British aristocracy. Nevertheless, though the champagne was known since the days of Madame de Pompadour, it was only released for sale in 1936, after a period of global recession: it was in that year that the House reserved to each of the family descendants of the Moët & Chandon London agency’s top clients a basket containing two sumptuous 19th century styled bottles of the 1926 vintage, sealed with wax and string. Since the enthusiastic reaction of the customers, the House then decided to employ the same tactic in the US market the following year and in fact until 1947 Dom Pérignon was reserved exclusively for the US market.

In 1959 Dom Pérignon was recognised by the world press as the most prestigious champagne in the world and since then many special editions in collaborations with famous artists and designers have contributed to enhance the success of this exceptional wine: in 2008 Karl Lagerfeld released a limited edition Dom Pérignon glass ’’A Bottle named Desire’ modelled on Claudia Schiffer’s breasts, in 2010 the House paid a tribute to Andy Warhol by a limited edition collection of three bottles created in association with the Design Laboratory at Central Saint Martins School of Art & Design and in 2012 was the year of the collaboration with the photographer David Lynch, who released the campaign “The Power of Creation’, emphasising the importance of quality in production. .

Dom Pérignon House

Dom Pérignon has its headquarters in Hautvillers, where Pierre Pérignon served as the cellar master and which was recently renoved by Moët & Chandon, the Champagne house that owns Dom Pérignon, by a multiyear renovation of the Abbey. By using the abbey as its unofficial headquarters, Dom Pérignon reinforces links to its namesake, who may not have invented sparkling wine but is said to have mastered the art of mixing the produce of different vineyards to achieve that champagne ideal — the perfect blend.

Moët & Chandon owns virtually all of the vineyards from which Dom Pérignon is sourced: as many as 300 different vineyards, from outside Reims to the Marne Valley, are emplyoed to make a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

Neverthless the House always focuses on the grapes, by chosing not to declare a vintage when their quality is deemed to be not outstanding.

The exact number of bottles produced per vintage is not precisely defined (at least 2 million) but everyone agrees that its greatly overtakes the production of Cristal and Krug, its two most famous rival prestige cuvées.

As of January 2013, the current release of Dom Pérignon is from the 2003 vintage and the current release of Dom Pérignon Rosé is from the 2002 vintage. Between 1921 and 2003, Dom Pérignon champagne has been produced in 39 years. Three vintage years in a row are a rare phenomenon (which has only occurred twice: in 1969, 1970 and 1971; in 1998, 1999 and 2000).

Dom Pérignon Style

Dom Pérignon is a single-vintage wine, made only in the best years: in fact the House pride itself on being “Vintage Only: an assemblage of the finest grapes of a single year in Champagne”, meaning all grapes used to make the wine are harvested in the same year rather than a blend of multiple years’ harvests. This is generally an indication of quality: many houses use blending to try to make more or less the same wine every year, while Dom Pérignon welcomes variation.

Always assembling 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, but changing the final composition every vintages created. Richard Geoffroy ,The Chef de Cave of the House is Richard Geoffroy, a star in the world of champagne making, considering that he is the only one who can decides if a vintage is up to be sold and who decides which is the perfect blend for a Dom Pérignon.

Having access to all 17 Grands Crus vineyards in Champagne (and in particular the 8 core Grands Crus of Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize and Le Mesnil) as well as the historical Premier Cru from Hautvillers is a privilege of the House and creates a myriad of options.

The signature style of Dom Pérignon – intense, full-bodied, hedonistic – is all driven by taste so to create a distinctive champagne, that tries to stand out amongst the others instead to strive to not get noticed. Part of this unicity is in the harvesting of ripe grapes: while many Champagne producers pick early, either out of stylistic preference or simply to ensure a harvest, Dom Pérignon’s pickers, under the wise advice of Mr. Geoffroy, wait for greater ripeness. This is due to the emphasis given to pH with acidity rather than flavors and sugars, in the convinction that that any corrections can be done through blending.

Nevertheless, to control the end product and to look for no surprises later during the winemaking process, the House adds sulfite during the pressing to kill off any indigenous wild yeast, runs a malolactic fermentation with a commercial culture each year allowing it to complete fully and only use stainless steel tanks for their primary fermentation. Much attention is also given to the topic of oxidation, that kills champagne’s complexity and makes it fat and heavy: each champagne receveis a mix of both early exposure and later protection so acclimates the juice at early stage and to gently rack and protect with sulfite at later times.

Dom Pérignon ages on its lees in the bottle for a minimum of seven years before riddling and disgorgement. After the yeast is removed, the champagne is stored for another six months before being released for sales around the globe. The result is elegance and creaminess with toasted flavours, backed up by an exotic fruitiness in a medium body and very fine tiny bubbles.

Dom Pérignon expresses its first plénitude after seven years in the cellar, with a second plénitude 12 to 15 years after the vintage and a third plénitude after 30 to 40 years.

The best way to appreciate a Dom Perignon is is to use standard wine glasses instead of not narrow Champagne flutes or shallow coupes so to emphasize the rich flavors and aromas of each new vintage, a sort of unique creative art.

Dom Pérignon Champagnes


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Drappier

drappier-champagne-bottle-sizes

Drappier History

Champagne has been produced by the Drappier family for eight generations. Its origins date back to 1808 when the domain was created in Urville in the Aube region of Champagne, to work on the vineyard, today exceeding 55 hectares.

Once occupied by Cistercian monks from Clairvaux Abbey, the seat of the House includes magnificent 12th-century vaulted cellars.

Drappier wad pioneer in introducing the pinot noir grape variety in the Aube, after the phylloxera crisis in the 1890’s when it was necessary to replant the vineyards. The strategic choice characterises the distinctive style one finds today in Drappier champagnes.

In 1952 Drappier launched its flagship Carte d’Or cuvée with its distinctive yellow label, to remind of quince jelly, a yellow fruit of which several aromatic notes are found in every bottle.

Champagne Drappier was honoured to be chosen by France President Charles de Gaulle for his private receptions in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises few miles from Urville, where he resided when he was not at the Elysée Palace or on official business elsewhere. There he discovered Champagne Drappier and chose a cuvée rich in Pinot Noir (80%) which was renamed in 1960 Drappier Charles de Gaulle in his honour.

Drappier House

Family-owned Drappier is one of the finest Champagne Houses, producing about 1.6 million bottles per year. Drappier exports about 2/3 of its production in 83 countries, while maintaing a foothold in France which remains champagne’s No.1 market in the world.

The Drappier vineyard covers over 55 hectares and constitutes the House’s essential trump card. This is quite unusual for a Recoltant-Manipulant (RM) and many contractual arrangements with other growers in the Côte des Bar, the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs ensure access to grapes from a variety of terroirs.

Drappier also continue to cultivate forgotten Champagne grape varieties: Arbane, Petit Meslier and Blanc Vrai.

Michel Drappier, CEO since 1979 controls the winemaking process, while his father André Drappier, with a lifetime’s experience of harvests behind him, keeps a watchful eye over the vineyards.

Drappier is unique in carrying out the prise de mousse, the remuage and the individual disgorgement of every single bottle for all bottle formats as opposed to other houses that do so for 75cl and magnum bottles only. In this way the wine is guaranteed an exceptional freshness and finesse of effervescence.

Drappier was the first Champagne house to mature part of its wines in an egg-shaped oak container, to be used for its special cuvée Drappier Grand Sendrée. According to Michel Drappier the egg shape represents the ultimate vessel to keep and mature wine thanks to its proportions.

Drappier Style

The Drappier style is 70% to 75% of pinot noir planted for 2/3 in the house’s own vineyards in the Aube region in the south of Champagne and cultivated in as natural method as possible. This results in complex, fuller-bodied champagne with a more assertive style, with fresh dry and lingering touches, that has also to do with the precise attention to limited dosage.

To this regards the House produce an extra brut champagne with with absolutely no added sugar: Drappier Brut Nature.

The winemaking is slow and natural, with 1/3 of the vines being cultivated using biodynamic methods and the other 2/3 on the way to using these methods.

Drappier extracts a remarkably low yield from its vineyards and uses a low sulphur regime (0.002% versus up to 5% for the other houses) in order not to “disguise” the wines.

The Drappier Brut Nature Sans Soufre (without sulphur) cuvée is its culmination, a prototype in Champagne. Sulphites are used in wine to protect it against oxidation. But according to Drappier too much sulphites disturb those allergic to this substance and are often overused to avoid any dire disclosures, anaesthetising the palate to the perception of flavours.

Drappier is also one of the rare Houses to produce kosher champagne, its Drappier Brut Carte D’Or cuvée.

The house, among very few in Champagne, continue to cultivate forgotten grape varieties which come back to life in Drappier Quattuor, a rare blend of  Arbane (25%), Petit Meslier (25%) and Blanc Vrai (25%).

Drappier Champagnes

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Duval-Leroy

Duval-LeRoy History

Duval-Leroy is one of the of the last family owned champagne firms.

Since its creation in 1859, when the Champagne families came together to share their interests, Duval-Leroy has been located in Vertus, in the heart of “La Cote des Blancs”, now the second-largest wine growing district in Champagne after Les Riceys.

The House has been renowned since its beginnings: between 1888 and 1893, at the Barcelona, Monaco, Moscow, and Paris Universal Exhibitions, Duval-Leroy was recognized for the quality of its champagne and in 1911 it was the first to elaborate a Premier Cru, called Fleur de Champagne 1er Cru, under the heading of Raymond Duval-Leroy.

Neverthless, much of the popularity and the quality of this top-ranked champagne House is relatively recent: it was 1991 when Carol Duval-Leroy, after the sudden loss of her husband, became CEO and President of the House.

Madame Duval-Leroy, who many consider the 21st century re-incarnation of Madame Veuve Clicquot, immediately took a very active role in the family wine business, especially during harvest time, where she would not only take care of the workers but also assist in grape purchases as well.

Formidable and strong-minded in character in the tradition of the grand dames of Champagne, she shifted the focus of Duval-Leroy away from producing Buyer’s-Own-Brand wines – at that time she assumed control, Duval-Leroy was best known for supplying good value Buyers Own Brand (BOB) champagne to various supermarket chains and retailers – and turned her attention to building up the Duval-Leroy brand.

Working closely with her husband’s colleagues, Madame Duval-Leroy was able to turn the company around: she invested in modern equipment ever since the early 90s,  with world markets depressed, developed the traditional distribution channels, increased the product range and expanded the exports.

Thanks to her work within a decade  Duval-Leroy has doubled its sales to 6.1 million bottles, of which 60 per cent is now exported, and is now ranked in the top fifteen champagne Houses.

The mark of her success has been shown in the number of top awards and medals that Duval-Leroy obtains regularly at national and international competitions.

The House was also the first Champagne company to experiment with plastic closures to replace traditional cork (on its single vineyard Clos des Bouveries Chardonnay from Vertus, which was launched at the 2009 London International Wine & Spirit Fair).

At present Madame Duval-Leroy, nominated in 2007 the first woman to take up the position of president of the Association Viticole Champenoise, a key trade organisation that oversees quality control in the region, runs the house along with her three sons.

Duval-Leroy House

The house, founded in 1859, is still based in its village of origin, Vertus, a village nestling in the heart of the Côte des Blancs, where the family runs 200 hectares vineyard.

The production is mainly Chardonnay (in the Grand Crus),  but in recent years the house has signed numerous contracts in the Montagne de Reims area of Champagne to increase its Pinot Noir supply.

Overall, this independent supply, on a scale rarely found in Champagne, provides one quarter of the company’s annual grape requirement, managed  by more than 35 year round employees and 350 additional grape pickers during the harvest.

The House produces both vintage and non-vintage cuvée as well as a line of organic and biodynamically produced wines; their tasting room is the only one in Champagne to  incorporate photovolataic panels, to have a system for retrieving rainwater and to have soundproofed it with a wall of vegetation.

At Duval-Leroy, the pneumatic presses of 8.000 kg and stainless steel fermentation tanks, entirely temperature-controlled, with a capacity of 100.000 hectolitres, bear witness to technological progress, but exist alongside oak casks that are traditionally used for ageing the main crus. 60.000 bottles leave the site each day and 5 millions are sold each year.

The House is still 100% family-owned, headed since 1991 by Carol Duval-Leroy, President and CEO of the company.

Assistant General Director and grape buyer is Michel Oliveira and cellar master is Sandrine Logette-Jardin, the only female cellar master in Champagne.

Duval-Leroy Style

The predominance of Chardonnay grapes in the elaboration of the cuvees gives  finesse, lightness and elegance to the Duval-Leroy champagnes.

The House is based in Vertus, in the heart of  the Côte des Blancs, and a number of the wines reflect this location, as they demonstrate a certain quality of Chardonnay not to be found elsewhere.

Chardonnay represents 27% of total Champagne vineyard production. This white grape produces a white juice and a colourless pulp. The characteristics of this wine are its subtlety, lightness and elegance. When young, its aromas in the wine are made up of floral notes, acacia, hawthorn, almond, green apple, lemon and grapefruit. When mature, it has the scent of brioche, toasted bread and mocha.

Pinot Noir represents 38% of the Champagne vineyard production. This black grape with a white juice and colourless pulp yields a robust, structured wine, long on the palate, with the aroma of red fruits.

Meunier totals 35% of the Champagne vineyard production. It has similar visual characteristics to Pinot Noir, but it yields a wine with a well-balanced assemblage; fruity and supple, with a strong bouquet and the aromas of pear and apple.

The range, which is extensive, including several non-vintage cuvées, rosés and prestige wines, is hence characterised by elegance, freshness, with good fruit.

Duval-Leroy develops its own blends, a jealously-guarded secret known to the cellar master alone, which give a special quality and enduring consistency to the wines.

Duval-Leroy Champagnes


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Gosset

Champagne Gosset – Traditional Skills since 1584…

For four centuries, great care has been taken to maintain the reputation of the brand and to preserve a family know-how in making champagne.

In 1584 Pierre Gosser, alderman of Ay and wine-grower, made still, mostly red wines from the grapes he harvested from his own vines. In those days two wines vied for pride of place at the table of the Kings of France. The wines of Ay and from some hundreds of leagues further south, the wine of Beaune. Both were made from the same grape varieties Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The reputation of the wine of Ay was such that Francois the First had his own winery built there. Which is now owned by Champagne Gosset.

Then in the 18th Century the wine made in and around Ay began to bubble, and the Gosset family turned naturally to the production of champagne.

At Gosset, most of the cuvees are presented in the old style bottle, a replica of the one used in the 18th and 19th centuries. Gosset house carefully avoids malolactic fermentation so that the wines keep their natural freshness.

To learn more about Gossett read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Jean-Pierre Cointreau


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Henri Giraud

Henri Giraud History

Contemporaries of Henri IV and his descendants, the Hémart family settled permanently in Aÿ at the beginning of the 17th century. Their history took root there and became closely interwoven with the momentous historical events relating to champagne from the 18th century onwards.

At the opening of the 20th century, Léon Giraud, cuirassier in the battle of the Marne, married a Miss Hémart.
He reconstructed the magnificent family vineyard, which had been ravaged by phylloxera.

To achieve this, he used the latest techniques : the grafting of vines (vitis vinifera) on the cuttings taken from certain American vines.

Today, the 12th generation of the Giraud-Hémart family, in the person of Claude Giraud, is in charge of the fortunes of the family business.

The Champagne Henri Giraud Vineyards

Each vineyard is located on the Ordnance Survey map with a memory store containing details of the developments in soil analysis and improvement, crop-spraying, the annual cycle of work and the harvest. All relevant information has been recorded in detail, right up to your bottle of champagne and includes the HACCP* food safety analysis.

The Giraud Oak Tree

The Argonne Forest – 350 years old – 35 metres high – 5.30 metres in circumference – listed by the Forestry Commission

For more than 10 centuries, the magnificent Argonne forest, situated 60 kms. to the east of Reims, provided the wood for champagne barrels. This stretch of land, 40 kms. long and 10 kms. wide, is without parallel in the world. The soil, a type of siliceous sandstone, is naturally heat-resistant and was used in iron foundries and glassworks from time immemorial. The oaks are remarkably deep-rooted. I fell in love with them at first sight.

Retracing the ancient traditions, I ordered the construction of a number of barrels made from Argonne oak wood and subsequently produced a number of very successful wines. I became very attached to this region where I made several remarkable discoveries.

The first was the Giraud oak, one of the three most ancient trees in the forest (named after the Napoleonic curator who first identified the tree).

The second discovery was Dom Perignon. The legend of champagne has its origins in St. Menehould, situated in the heart of the Argonne forest, approximately 5kms. from the Giraud oak. In 1670, the tree was just a sapling when the famous monk was appointed chief cellarer of the Aÿ-Hautvillers abbey.

The hills of the Argonne region form part of the natural defences of eastern France. During the First World War, my grandfather, Léon Giraud, a curassier who fought in the battle of the Marne, defended the Vauquois hillside, 5 kms. east of the Giraud oak. On his return from the battle front, his company sought refuge in a barn owned by the Hémart family, where they were able to recuperate. After demobilization, he married one of the daughters!

So, by a strange quirk of fate, the Giraud oak, the history of champagne and my family tree became curiously intermingled.


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Henriot

Henriot champagne cellars

Founded in 1808 Maison HENRIOT is one of those rare, independent Champagne Houses that has been family owned since its inception.

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Jacquesson

Jacquesson History
Jacquesson & Fils, based in the village of Dizy, was founded in Châlons-sur-Marne (now Chalôns-en-Champagne) in 1798 by Memmie Jacquesson. The fame of the House grew following the rumour that it was a favourite of Napoleon, who would have honoured the house with a gold medal for its fine cellars.Moreover, the House is renowned for the introduction of the « plaque de muselet», the now-collected metal caps over the cork held by wire – still the method for holding down the cork – which was patented by Adolph Jacquesson, Memmie’s son, in 1844.Adolph, who succeeded his father in 1835, ensured the dynamic growth of the House adopting the latest wine-making breakthroughs and discovering techniques to improve the still imperfect art of champagne making. For instance, with the help of Dr Guyot, he carried out the planting of vines in row, while with chemist Jean-Baptiste François, he developed a process for measuring sugar density, so reducing from 25% to 4% the rate of bottle exploding in their cellars because of the lack of control over the amount of carbon dioxide under the cork ( this process is known nowadays as Reduction Francois).

Eventually, part of the fame of the House is due to the fact to have given birth to Krug : in 1843, Jacquesson’s cellar master, Johann-Joseph Krug, left the House to form his own brand. In 1867 annual sales of Jacquesson bottles had reached 1,000,000, but a period of decline followed the death of Adolphe Jacquesson, with the descendants having ceased to continue the family business.

It was only several decades later that the House began to remake its fortune : in 1924 Jacquesson was acquired by de Tassigny family, while in 1974 the brand was bought out by a small house, Champagne Chiquet Père et Fils, so moving to its present Dizy home from its then base in Reims. Thanks to Jean Chiquet and then to his sons, Jean Hervé and Laurent, respectively joining the House in 1978 and in 1985, Jacquesson returned to its roots, producing top quality champagnes under the old logo of the Maison Jacquesson.

Jacquesson House
Jacquesson House, one of the smallest House in the Champagne Region – only Salon being smaller amongst the elite of Champagne producers – sits nevertheless with few other top ‘houses’ for its champagne quality.

Based in Dizy, now with a vast chateau at Sillery as well as the Chalôns base, the House produces 280.000 bottles per year, nearly 78% supplied from their own 28ha estate while the others 22% from selected growers in the same villages where the House has its vineyards – Avize, Chouilly and Oiry in the Grand Cru and Dizy, Hautvillers, Cumieres and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ in the Premier Cru.Having to buy grapes to supply its production, the House is a « negociant-manipulant » (NM).

Despite the limited owned vineyards – along with the limited annual production – since the arrival of the Chiquet family the House has radically changed farming techniques so to focus on champagne quality: the two brothers Chiquet take great care of the vineyards, still dating back to Adolphe Jacquesson times and restored in the 19th century in collaboration with Dr. Jule Guyot so to plant them in planting in rows instead of the traditional ‘en foule’ and with specific controls on yield and in 2008 they completed its conversion to organic farming.

Moreover, running counter Champagne’s tradition of blending wines from across the region to make consistent house-branded styles, Jean-Hervé and Laurent prefer to to make locally specific and authentic wines.

In this boutique House, which behaves the least like a house and much more like a ‘single estate, the two brothers – owners of the 51% of the company, the rest held by other investors – have the complete organization of the production, with Jean Hervè dealing with sales and outside relations while Laurent leading on vineyard management and grape production as well as winemaking. Some 65% is exported to the UK, with a clear choice to not sell in supermarkets. The USA, Germany, Sweden and Japan are also important export markets.

Jacquesson Style
Much of the success of the House is due to the their terroir based philosophy, which employs organic farming techniques and deploys herbicids, allowing to obtain grapes of great quality.

Confident of this quality, some years ago the Chiquet brothers decided to stop producing their non-vintage cuvé – what obliged them to « repeat » a style year o er year – and to introduce a groundbreaking single-vintage-based cuvée, which changes yearly (with the latest release, Cuvée No. 737 based on the 2009 vintage, with Cuvée No. 736 based on the 2008 vintage, Cuvée No. 735 based on the 2007 vintage and so on till the first Cuvée 728 based on 2000 vintage).

At the moment, both the old bottlings of the House – the « regular » vintages, 2002 being the last to be released – and the new – the 700s series – now coexist on the market as old stocks diminish and will eventually disappear. For what concerns the 700s series – and Jacquesson champagnes in general – the assemblage of each numbered cuvée changes from year to year though the techniques are based on vinification in large old oak barrels, on the lees, with weekly bâtonnages, and with the use of only the first « cuvée » during pressing.

The champagnes, which include a percentage of about 30% to 40% of reserve wines, always complete malolactic fermentation, but the sugar dosage is minimal and there is no fining, no filtration, or conventional cold stabilisation. Thus, although it is difficult to say there is a real « Jacquesson style » it is nevertheless fair to say that Jacquesson champagnes are crisp, giving a dry impression, also due to this very low dosage – less than 6g/l of residual sugar – with most of the wines being in fact Extra-Brut.

Alongside the esteemed ‘700 Series’ cuvées, the house produces tiny quantities of its terroir-based cuvées–each from a unique parcel of vines : Champ Caïn, 100% Avize Chardonnay; Corne Bautray, 100% Dizy Chardonnay, Vauzelle Terme, 100% Aÿ Pinot Noir, and a saignée rosé, Terres Rouge, which, from 2007 onwards, will be produced entirely from Pinot Noir.

The Chiquet brothers have decided to release these terroir-based champagnes only when vintages are very good and are not needed for the 700s cuvées. Finally, the House has also released – in small quantities – late disgorged Vintage champagnes under the designation « degorgement tardif » (DT). On all the backlabels the House indicate the number of bottles produced, the month of disgorging – with some older vintages-left undisgorged in its cellars until release fifteen or more years after the vintage – and the dosage. These wines are further distinguished by their baroque labels, of the type that Jacquesson used in the 1840s.

To learn more about Jacquesson read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Jean Hervé Chiquet.

Jacquesson Champagnes


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Krug

Since 1843, Champagne Krug has unfailingly lived up to its reputation as a great Champagne House, the only one to release exclusive “Cuvées de Prestige” every year. Joseph Krug, a passionate neophyte, pushed the limits of traditional champagne production and founded the first luxury Champagne House.

Joseph Krug wished to be alone in his ability to compose champagne that was different, unexpected, complete and contrasted, and dedicated to every pleasure, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. By blending wines from different years, he brought forth champagnes of irreproachable quality, with a unique taste that could be recreated every year. Thus was born Krug Grande Cuvée, transcending the art of blending, an icon for all of Champagne.

This vision of the art of creation – above all, a history of taste – has been perpetuated year after year since 1843 by the Krug family, represented today by Olivier Krug, a member of the sixth generation.

To learn more about Krug read BestChampagne exclusive interview with Olivier Krug and with President Margaret “Maggie” Henriquez.


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Lanson

LANSON INTRO

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Laurent-Perrier

The House of Laurent-Perrier was founded in 1812, when Alphonse Pierlot, a former cooper and bottler from Chigny-les-Roses, settled in Tours-sur-Marne on the parcels of land named “Plaisances” and “La Tour Glorieux” and started producing the first champagnes of the House. In 1881 Alphonse Pierlot bestowed the company to his cellar master, Eugene Laurent, who, together with his wife, Mathilde Emilie Perrier, run the Champagne House till his death, in 1887. It was at the time that Mathilde took control of the estate, linking her surname with her late husband’s to create the brand Veuve Laurent-Perrier Thanks to Mathilde’s management the House produced a record-breaking 50,000 cases of champagne, confirming its position as an industry leader. During WWI, the House and country weakened and Madame Mathilde decided to expand Laurent-Perrier’s market and introduce it to Great Britain, still one of the main markets of the House. In 1925, when Madame Mathilde passed away, her daughter Eugenie inherited Laurent-Perrier and ran it untill the beginnings of WWII, in 1939, when, facing difficult economic times, she decided to sell the businessto Madame Louise Lanson de Nonancourt, sister to Champagne producers Victor and Henri Lanson. Thus, when Madame de Nonancourt acquired Laurent-Perrier, the House was on the verge of bankruptcy with only 1,000 mortgaged cases and she could not count on her sons, Maurice and Bernard, at the moment involved in the war. During WWII, Madame de Nonancourt had to manage the House by herself, hiding more than 100,000 bottles behind a wall. In those years, Maurice, her oldest son who was expected to run Laurent-Perrier after the war, was taken prisoner and killed in the concentration camp of Oranienbourg. It was thus Bernard de Nonancourt who assumed ownership of Laurent-Perrier after coming back from the war: after learning every aspect of winemaking from vine to cellar, he was appointed in October 1948 as Chairman and Chief Executive and leaded the House till his death, in October 2010. Since that moment, the House is now under Bernard’s daughters Alexandra and Stéphanie, both of whom are members of the management board. The House has contributed to launch a new concept in international Champagne distribution by establishing its first wholly owned subsidiary in the United Kingdom, Laurent-Perrier, U.K and, since 1995 has showed shows its support for the motion picture industry, beginning a relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the exclusive Champagne featured at the Oscars. In 2012 Laurent-Perrier became an official Champagne partner of Relais et Chateau, an international association dedicated to the promotion and marketing of independent hotels and restaurants with exceptional charm and individuality. Laurent-Perrier House Located in the Grand Crus village of Tours-sur-Marne, Champagne, the House of Laurent-Perrier is among the largest champagne brands in the world and remains a family owned business (Nonancourt Group), with members of the Nonancourt family on its Management Board. The Group also owns other champagne houses such as Delamotte, Salon and De Castellane. It was thanks to Madame de Nonancourt’s youngest son, Bernard, that the House has become one the greatest champagne group in the world. Bernard de Nonancourt, or ‘BN’ as he was known by his staff and family, was an enormously influential man, inspired Laurent-Perrier with his independent spirit and creative audacity, established privileged working relationships with the grape growers and cleverly combined innovation and tradition. Assigned to General Leclerc’s 2nd Armoured Division (2ème DB) during WWII, he returned in 1948: thanks to his mothers suggestion to undergo an apprenticeship to fully understand the business – being a vines labourer, cellar and office worker, and a sales representative – aged 28 Bernard was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive of Laurent-Perrier. He created the signature Laurent-Perrier style of freshness, lightness and elegance and developed a unique range of champagnes which are today exported to 147 countries worldwide. After his death, in 2010, the House is in the hands of Bernard’s two sisters, Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt et Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt. Along with de Nonancourt daughters, the House is managed thanks to some key figures: Yves Dumont, since 1997 chairman of the Management Board and Michel Fauconnet, third Cellar Master of Laurent-Perrier after taking over from Alain Terrier. Mister Fauconnet is also Head of Vineyards, Production and Supplies, while Etienne Auriau is the Chief Financial Officer, Jordi Vinyals Head of Sales, Brand Development and Michel Boulaire is Corporate Communication and Public Relations Director. Since 1995, the House has given its support for the motion picture industry, beginning a relationship with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the exclusive Champagne featured at the Oscars. In 2010 it has become an official Champagne partner of Relais et Chateau, an international association dedicated to the promotion and marketing of independent hotels and restaurants with exceptional charm and individuality. Last year, Laurent-Perrier has celebrates its bicentenary with the launch of a limited-edition Grand Siècle Reserve. Laurent-Perrier Style Much of Laurent-Perrier’s style has been created by Bernard de Nonancourt. The essential foundations required to produce great champagnes were set up by Cellar Master Eugène Laurent in 1881. He purchased vines in the very best terroirs of Bouzy, Tours-sur-Marne, and Ambonnay, all of which are Grand Crus villages. They excavated 800 metres of cellars, and set up a tasting laboratory – it is thanks to Monsieur de Nonancourt if the House has become the great champagne group that is today. Thanks to Bernard, Laurent-Perrier is one of the very first Champagne Houses to use stainless steel tanks and to introduce the first ever multi-vintage prestige cuvée, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle. It exemplifies the House’s dedication to the Champagne craft over an elitist image. Prior to this moment, prestige cuvée Champagnes were always made from a single vintage year. With Grand Siècle– obtained from three vintage years made entirely from eleven of the top 100% rated crus, and the best Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varietials– the House reaches the pinnacle of champagne blending, giving to a prestige cuvée more complexity and consistency. Laurent Perrier champagnes are generally Chardonnay-driven and multi-vintage – a choicemade to give freshness and lightness – apart from Cuvée Rosé Brut, which made from 100% Pinot Noir using the rare skin contact method (also known as the saignée method) to obtain more complexity and its salmon-pink colour. In 1980 the House was the first to reintroduce the concept of brut nature (no added dosage) Champagne to a new generation, Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut. Behind all these novelties there is the work and the mind of Bernard de Nonancourt as it is for the vintage rosé Grand Siècle Alexandra Rosé 1982, which he introduced in 1987 as a wedding present for his daughter, Alexandra. This vintage – which the last available release being the 1997 edition – is made of a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a private family reserve and is a rare must-have among connoisseurs. After the death of Bernard de Nonancourt in 2010, Laurent-Perrier style is cared by Cellar Master Michel Fauconnet. Fauconnet, taken over from Alain Terrier in 1973 and become the house’s third ever Cellar Master. Fauconnet’s philosophy is to make vintage wines merely to provide ingredients for the various cuvées, rather than making them a speciality: in this sense, Les Réserves Grand Siècle, created specifically for the bicentenary celebration of the House, in 2012, is a multi-vintage blend of 1990, ’93 and ’95. At Laurent-Perrier, all the champagnes are based on grapes coming from the best sectors of the Champagne growing area, vinified and worked each batch separately. This single vineyard vinification has become part of the signature house style thanks to the work of Cellar Master Michel Fauconnet.

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Louis Roederer

Roederer History

Founded in Reims in 1776, Louis Roederer is one of the few large champagne House to have remained independent and family-run. The House was originally the property of Nicolas Schreider until 1833 when his nephew Louis Roederer succeeded and decided to give his name to the business.Under his influence – and thanks to the help of his brother Eugene and a great entrepreneur as Hugues Kraft – sales rase up from to 700,00 to 100,000 bottles per year and reached the figure of 2,500,000 under the governance of Louis’s son, Louis Roederer II.In few years, the House became one of the most renowned of the times and this happened mostly thanks to the introduction and spreading of the famous Cristal champagne on the Russian market.

The story says that in 1876, informed that the Tsar had taken offence at the fact that nothing distinguished the bottles of champagne swathed in white linen on his table from those of ordinary people, the House called up a Flemish master glass worker who designed an untinted crystal bottle with a flat base and so would be born the famous prestige cuvee Cristal, with the highly illustrious bottle, duly adorned with the imperial coat of arms.

Indeed, part of Louis Roederer great success is due to Russian market: under the reign of Nicolas II, even before turning towards European tables – and then towards the world – the House became “the Official supplier to the Imperial Court of Russia”.

Moreover, the House has opted, since its origins, for a “grower strategy”, which consisted of acquiring the best pieces of land in order to gain independence in terms of the very high quality grapes that is sought-after today.

In the same way, under the governance of founder Louis Roederer, the House acquired or commissioned the building of immense cellars in Boulevard Lundy in Reims, with a view to achieving a higher level of production.

At the time quality and quantity were not seen as incompatibles and the notion of rarity, today synonymous with Roederer, was to come later: it was only in 1979 that Jean-Claude Rouzaud, succeeding to Camille Orly-Roederer, decided to implement a chateau policy that, breaking free from the dictates of marketing, favored quality over quantity.

His son, Frédéric Rouzaud, pursued the same logic thanks to having control over all the production: not only he enlarged the vineyard by several hectares (214 hectares now) but he also embarked on the construction of a new fermenting room and a new cellar to accommodate nine million bottles .

These investments have been made in the light of guaranteeing an excellent production and so to keep rendering Roederer wines – Cristal inprimis – so alluring.

Today the House, giving tribute to founder Louis Roederer’s passion for art and literature, is the main sponsor of the photographic gallery at the Bibliothéque Nationale de France and is a supporting sponsor of the Prix de Flore – the youngest of the Parisian literary prizes, as well as the Wine Writers Awards in London, the Mostra in Venice and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Roederer House

Champagne House Louis Roederer is still in the hands of Roederer family. Despite the House is of medium sizes, in the past two decades it has become one of the most important wine firms in the world thanks to a “chateau policy”, consisting of offering wines of the highest quality.

Though the limits imposed by such a quality choice, the owners of the House, Jean Claude Rouzaud over the years and now Frédéric Rouzaud, have acquired many properties around the Champagne House in Reims and beyond, altogether making up “the Louis Roederer Group”.

This portfolio of wineries comprises Champagne Deutz; Roederer Estate and Scharffenberger Cellars in California; Porto Adriano Ramos-Pinto; Delas Frères wines from the Rhône Valley; Domaines Ott from Provence; Château de Pez, Château Haut-Beauséjour, and Château Bernadotte in Bordeaux, and Glenelly Winery in South Africa.

The latest acquisition was in 2006 and is one of the top Bordeaux winerie, Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande. In Bordeaux, the House has also an equal share with the Duclot Group in the Maison Descaves. Louis Roederer owns 214 hectares vineyards planted exclusively in the Premiers and Grand Crus of Cotée des Blancs region, Montagne de Reims and Vallée de la Marne region. Every year the House produces 3.3 million bottles.

Roederer Style

Conscious of the fact that the quality of his wines depended primarily on that of his grapes, Louis Roederer applies a “chateau policy”, consisting of offering wines of the highest quality, accepting the notion of rarity this inevitably brought with it.

The grapes of the 214 hectares property owe their quality to the poor soil clinging to deep chalk bedrock, their slow maturation, the exposed hillsides and the cold, northern hemisphere climate offering little sunshine outside the summer months.

The wine produced from these grapes is full bodied and rich with the exception of its prestige cuvée, Cristal, wich is elegant and well-balanced.

Cellar master Jean Baptiste Lécaillon – in charge of the blending since 1999 and also Vineyard director to follow the House’s philosophy for which the secrets of a great champagne lie in the work put into the vine – has lowered the dosage of the champagnes to 9 grams per liter (8 grams for Cristal).

Roederer Champagnes

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Moët & Chandon

Moët & Chandon History

In 1446, Jean and Nicolas Moët were made nobles by King Charles VII. The Maison Moët was founded in 1743, by one of the descendants, Claude Moët, who had been a wine trader in Epernay since the early 18th century.

His grandson, Jean Rémy Moët transformed this trading company into one of the world’s leading luxury brand. In 1832 when Jean-Rémy retired and left the company in the hands of his son Victor Moët and son-in-law Pierre-Gabriel Chandon de Briailles.

The name was officially changed that same year to Moët et Chandon.

Moët & Chandon House

Today  it is the largest champagne house with 25 million bottles of champagne  made up almost exclusively of Premiers Crus and Grands Crus grapes. The House is part of Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy (LVMH), the world’s largest luxury group. The House holds a Royal Warrant to supply champagne to Elizabeth II of England.

Moët & Chandon Style

Meticulous attention to every step of the winemaking process and the richness of the vineyards used is  key to Moët & Chandon style: out of 150 hectares of rich chalk soil, 50% are grands crus and 25% are premiers crus. Moët & Chandon create champagnes of quality and precision,  that express the diversity and the complementarity of the three Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

From vineyards in Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne, Sézanne and Aube, we Moët & Chandon accesses approximately 200 of the 323 crus in the region, including a total of 17 grands crus and 32 of the 44 premiers crus. This wide-ranging diversity of fruits and vineyards ensures the optimum selection of grapes, enabling Moët & Chandon to maintain the constancy of its Moët Impérial Brut Multi-Vintage champagne and the originality of its Grand Vintage.

Located 10 to 30-meters under the chalky soil, Moët & Chandon’s cellars are the largest within the Champagne region, spanning 28km (aprox 17.4 miles). Here still wines undergo their transformation into champagne in conditions where temperature and humidity levels are constant and unchanging.

Moët & Chandon Champagnes


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Mumm

With its distinctive ‘red ribbon’ label, Champagne G.H. Mumm offers a range of multi-award-winning Champagnes of the highest quality, created by Chef de Cave Didier Mariotti, and backed by a rich and colourful heritage.

The number one selling Champagne in France (and number two in the world), it is not simply a superb aperitif and celebration drink.  It is also considered by many to be the quintessential gastronomy Champagne.  The house style focuses on the Pinot Noir grape which provides both fruit and structure – two vital ingredients when it comes to the successful pairing of wine with food.

Indeed, Champagne G.H. Mumm has cultivated close ties with the world of gastronomy since its foundation in 1827. This year it was announced as the official Champagne partner of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – and for the second year running will be the Champagne sponsor of The London Restaurant Festival, pairing with some of London’s finest menus, in the city’s finest restaurants.  It is also a long-term supporter of the Academy of Culinary Arts, sponsoring its Awards for Excellence.

G.H. Mumm’s historical commitment to celebrating achievement and supporting exceptional individuals, who twist convention in whatever they do, continues with the exclusive Cordon Rouge Club.  Its members are some of the world’s bravest, most intrepid land and sea adventurers. Among them are Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Bear Grylls, Dee Caffari, John Blashford-Snell and Dame Ellen MacArthur.  Each year, new members are inducted into the club and all take part in heroic races and acts of derring-do, celebrated at the end with a glass of G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge.

Internationally, G.H. Mumm Champagne has been the official champagne for F1 for a decade and is now synonymous with the celebration moment on the podium, after the race has finished.

Background

The G.H. Mumm Champagne House was established in Reims in 1827 by brothers Jacobus, Gottlieb and Philipp Mumm, who were from a rich family of German wine merchants. Georges Hermann Mumm, a descendant of the founders, took over the company in 1853. It became and has remained to this day G.H. Mumm et Cie. Georges was a man ahead of his time with an unusual taste for discovery and adventure. Fanatical about travel and pushing boundaries he supported various adventures including Captain Jean-Baptiste Charcot’s 1904 trip to the South Pole.

‘Nothing but quality’ was the mission statement of the founding fathers and with adherence to this George quickly established a reputation for style and quality. Introduced in 1875, the Mumm brand echoes the red ribbon of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest badge of honour. In 1881 Cordon Rouge became the first Champagne to be exported to the USA, marking the beginnings of an export-oriented sales policy that has continues to this day: Mumm is present in over 100 countries and 60% of production is exported.

Convinced that maintaining quality was vital for long-term business success, Georges became one of the first Champenois to buy vineyards to gain control over all aspects of production. In 1882, G.H. Mumm began to consolidate its vineyard holdings to ensure a constant supply of the best grapes from the best areas. The first purchases were of sixty hectares (148 acres) in the Grand Cru villages of Cramant and at Avize in the Côte des Blancs (famous for the very best Chardonnay).

The courts of Austria-Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England all appear in the Mumm accounts books from the 1890 and in 1902 G.H. Mumm had sales of 3 million bottles (1 million exported to the USA) making it the leading Champagne house.

After World War I, a company manager, Georges Robinet, took charge of the G.H. Mumm and oversaw its rebuilding. He restored the vineyards and production facilities before recalling the workers, guaranteeing them housing and schools and continuing the progressive social policy of the company’s founders.

In 1927, the House of G.H. Mumm played a role in creating the official Champagne appellation and defining the approved grape-growing and vinification methods. In 1939, René Lalou became chairman of the company. He was to occupy this position for 34 years and would lend his name to the house’s prestige cuvée. Following World War II, the company was restructured, rebuilt its wine stocks, bought more vineyards and grew its sales volume.

History in brief:

1827: the house of G.H.Mumm was founded by three Mumm brothers (Jacobus, Gottlieb and Phillipp), and Friedrich Giesler and G.Heuser

1876: G.H.Mumm & Co launched its first Cordon Rouge

1902: Mumm’s total sales exceeded 3 million bottles

1920- 1973: under the control of Rene Lalou,  Mumm doubled its production to over 6 million bottles

1995: Mumm was the first house to install a revolutionary disgorging system, and the first to be awarded an ISO 9002 certification. This guarantees no defects in the wine, a continuity of style and stricter control of the corks

1998: Dominique Demarville takes over from Jean-Marie Barilliere as Chef de Cave

2006: Didier Mariotti takes over from Dominique Demarville as Chef de Cave

Vineyards

Great wines are made in the vineyard and not in the winery. Today G.H. Mumm still owns 218 hectares of vineyards, which are mainly sited in the eight most renowned Grands Crus in Champagne: Aÿ, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy, Verzenay, Avize, Cramant and Mailly. These holdings cover 25% of G.H. Mumm’s production needs and the remaining 75% comes from independent growers (many of whom have been supplying Mumm for decades). In all Champagnes, Chardonnay (grown in the Côte des Blancs) gives elegance and finesse, Pinot Noir (grown in the Montagne de Reims area) gives flesh and structure and Pinot Meunier (grown in the Vallee de la Marne) provides the fruit and roundness.

Cellars

G.H. Mumm owns some 50km of Gallo-Roman pits dug deep (up to 30m) into the chalk below Epernay. Here some 25,000,000 bottles are slowly maturing at the constant temperature of 11 degrees Celsius. This temperature is ideal for long storage and ensures the development of small bubbles during the second fermentation.

Chef de Cave

Didier Mariotti was employed as Assistant Chef de Cave at G.H. Mumm in 2003 and promoted to ‘Chef de Cave’ in 2006. Thanks to his passion and know-how the quality has surged at G.H. Mumm over the last few years. His open and engaging personality makes him a popular representative of the usually secretive champenois. He qualified as an agronomist and has a degree in Oenology from the University of Reims. His career to date has been spent entirely within the Champagne region.

To learn more about G.H. Mumm read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Philippe Guettat.


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Perrier-Jouët

Since its foundation in 1811, the House of Champagne Perrier-Jouët has been producing boutique wines which combine unparalleled refinement and finesse with ‘Belle Epoque’ art de vivre.

The legendary consistency of its signature Champagne style, shaped by the exceptional quality and elegance of its Grand Cru Chardonnay grapes, stems from the guardianship of just seven cellar masters in nearly two hundred years; the last 20 of those under master Chef de Cave Herve Deschamps.

The avant-garde spirit for which Champagne Perrier-Jouët is fêted finds its purest expression in the iconic anemone bottle of its prestige cuvée, ‘Belle Epoque’, designed in 1902 by art-nouveau master Emile Gallé.

This creative philosophy has earned Perrier-Jouët a cult following, resonating across the social spectrum from decadent bohemia to refined luxury and attracting such eclectic admirers as Oscar Wilde and Coco Chanel.

Background

Perrier-Jouët was founded in 1811 by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier, who added the maiden name of his wife, Adele Jouët, to create the house.

Established in the heart of Épernay, Perrier-Jouët quickly began to build an international following from its success in exporting to foreign markets. Early entry to the UK (1815) meant that by 1847 exports represented nearly ninety per cent of House sales.

This European success allowed the family to increase their vineyard holdings, hand-picking land in the Grand Cru villages of Aÿ, Avize, Cramant, Mailly. When replanting vines they focused on Chardonnay, bringing the lightness to the Perrier-Jouët wines which is still a characteristic of the wines today.

A relentless commitment to quality throughout the latter half of the 19th century saw the House pioneer such initiatives as the early development of Brut-style Champagne and, in bad vintages like 1879, a policy of not releasing any Champagne at all.

This pursuit of excellence was witnessed by official recognition from the Royal Courts of France, UK and Russia and the auction, at Christie’s in 1888, of the 1874 vintage as the most expensive bottle of Champagne in the world.

A seminal moment in the House’s history came in 1902, when Art Nouveau artist Emile Gallé designed the now iconic Belle Epoque anemone bottle, to capture and reflect the vibrancy and spirit of that exciting era.

Unbelievably, the design became forgotten in the labyrinthine cellars, until its revival with the launch of Perrier-Jouët’s prestige cuvée ‘Belle Epoque’ in 1969 at Maxim’s and Duke Ellington’s 70th birthday at L’Alcazar.

To this day, the House honours the early commitment to excellence of its founders and continues to act as guardians of the unique Belle Epoque spirit.

Recent milestones, such as launching the first tailor-made cuvée “By & For” and uncorking the world’s oldest Champagne (PJ Vintage 1825) at last year’s legendary ‘200 Year Tasting’, show that this philosophy is still intact after 200 years and will, no doubt, continue to thrive in the future…

History in brief

•          1811 – House founded by Pierre-Nicolas-Marie Perrier with wife Adele Jouët

•          1815 – First UK exports of Perrier-Jouët Champagne

•          1825 – Nicolas Perrier becomes Mayor of Epernay

•          1846 – ‘Brut’ style of Champagne pioneered by Perrier-Jouët to suit palate of UK customers. This initiates departure from previous sweet       Champagne style to the brut style enjoyed universally today.

•          1858 – Perrier-Jouët one of first to stamp vintage year on corks & labels to prevent counterfeit

•          1861 – Queen Victoria awards the Royal Warrant to her favourite Champagne house

•          1902 – Emile Gallé, leading light of ‘Art Nouveau’ designs iconic PJ Anemone bottle

•          1969 – Cuvée Belle Epoque 1964 launched in rediscovered Anemone bottle at Duke Ellington’s 70th Birthday at L’Alcazar, Paris

•          2008 – Perrier-Jouët introduce world’s first bespoke cuvée – Belle Epoque “By & For”

•          2009 – Legendary ‘200 year Tasting’ held by Perrier-Jouët, featuring world’s oldest Champagne from 1825

•          2011 – Bicentenary Year

Maison Belle Epoque

The Maison Belle Epoque in Epernay is the private chateau of the Perrier-Jouët family and houses one of the world’s foremost collections of Art Nouveau masterpieces.

A dedicated global campaign to reunite pieces from the Belle Epoque era saw the creation of one of the world’s genuinely unique properties: a living testimony to the era, featuring works from such great Art Nouveau protagonists as Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Lalique, Majorelle and Hector Guimard, creator of the famed Paris Metro iconography.

Most notably, it is home to many original works by Emile Gallé, friend of the House and designer of the original Belle Epoque Anemone bottle in 1902.

Vineyards

Great wines are made first in the vineyard, and afterwards in the winery…

Since 1809, Perrier-Jouët has acquired 65 hectares in the finest viticultural areas of the Champagne region, including large holdings in the top Cote des Blancs villages of Cramant and Avize, which produce the Chardonnay which underpins the  Perrier-Jouët signature style.

Perrier-Jouët’s vineyards feature mature vines (23 years old on average) and have been awarded an average rating of 99.2% on the Grand Cru classification scale.

In the final PJ blend, the Chardonnay component creates the elegance and finesse, complemented by the structure of Pinot Noir (from Ay and Mailly, north of the Montagne de Reims) and the essential fruit and roundness derived from a judicious touch of Pinot Meunier (from Dizy in the Vallee de la Marne).

It is this delicate marriage, masterminded by Hervé Deschamps, of hand-picked, traditionally-pressed grapes from Grand Cru vineyards which yields the balance and refinement for which the House’s Champagnes are rightfully renowned.

Cellars

Perrier-Jouët owns some 10 kilometres of Gallo-Roman cellars dug deep (up to 30m) into the chalk below the Avenue de Champagne, in the heart of Epernay.

Here some 12 million bottles are slowly maturing at the constant natural temperature of 11 degrees Celsius.

These conditions are ideal for long ageing and extremely valuable to the House, given Perrier-Jouët’s policy to mature their NV for a minimum of two and a half years and higher styles for a minimum of six years before releasing them to market.

Chef de Cave

Cellar Master Hervé Deschamps is only the seventh Chef de Cave of Perrier-Jouët in nearly two centuries. He succeeded André Bavaret in 1993, after a decade of apprenticeship.

To learn more about Perrier-Jouët read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Philippe Guettat.


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Philipponnat

An enduring tradition since 1522

Deep roots

XVIth-XVIIth: April le Philipponnat has owned an estate in Aÿ since 1522 and two House Cuvées, named after this year, honour him today. The emblem of the House, the red and gold checkerboard family coat-of-arms, was registered with the French Heraldry in 1698, even though the Philipponnat family had been established in the heart of Champagne for almost two centuries by that stage.

Second Empire: Owners of vineyards and wine traders in their own right, the Philipponnats devote themselves to the production of Champagne.

1910: Auguste and Pierre Philipponnat settle in Mareuil sur Aÿ and start using the old wine cellars (XVIIIth Century) of the castle and give their House its modern commercial momentum despite the onset of the First World War and a widespread phylloxera crisis.

A great insight

1935: Pierre Philipponnat acquires the Clos des Goisses, a unique vineyard on the southern flank of the Gruguet hill. Breaking with the tradition of blending in Champagne, he creates a remarkable single-vineyard wine. The following generations go on to further develop the reputation of the House, first in France and then abroad.

A new momentum

1997: Philipponnat joins the Boizel Chanoine Champagne Group. Charles Philipponnat, grandson of Auguste, is brought in to run the House and brings the required energy to its international development. Since then, Philipponnat continues to expand and receives growing acclaim from both wine critics and the world of Haute Cuisine.

2003: The new wine making facilities as well as the barrel room are completed in Mareuil sur Ay, the ultimate stage in production of quality wines at Philipponnat.

The Philipponnat style

The Philipponnat style relies on balance between intensity and freshness.

The intensity results from:
1) the dominance of Pinot Noir in the blends , particularly the very well southern-facing vineyards from the South of the Montagne de Reims.
2) the search for an optimal physiological maturity of the grapes due to slightly late grape picking.

The freshness ensues from:
1) the use of never less than 30% Chardonnay, and particularly from the use of only the first pressing (the Cuvée),
2) a very moderate dosage which protects the aromatic freshness and the natural minerality of the base wines.

An essential portion of vintage wines and of Clos des Goisses are matured in oak barrel to increase their complexity. Wines matured in oak, as well as a part of those matured in steel tanks are not subjected to malo-lactic fermentation in order to increase and adjust the perception of acidity and freshness.

To learn more about Philipponnat read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Charles Philipponnat.


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Piper-Heidsieck

Piper-Heidsieck HistoryFlorens-Louis Heidsieck founded his eponymous Champagne House in 1785. His wines gained immediate recognition and in May of the same year, he is said to have presented his already legendary wine to Queen Marie-Antoinette at Versailles.

Florens-Louis’ nephew Christian Heidsieck joined the House in 1800 followed by Henri-Guillaume Piper in 1815.

Upon the death of Florens-Louis Heidsieck in 1828; Christian Heidsieck assumed control of the House while Henri Guillaume Piper travelled the world to promote and sell his wines. The house of Heidsieck became the official purveyor to 14 Royal and Imperial Courts, including those as far as Siam and China.

In 1997 Piper-Heidsieck adorned the Red Label, symbol of enthusiasm, passion, panache and excellence to convey its message of conviviality.

To this day Piper-Heidsieck has remained a Winehouse of wonder, with innovations compromising exclusive designers to not only bring you exquisite wines, but to bring it in grandeur!

To learn more about Piper-Heidsieck read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Cecile Bonnefond.


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Pol Roger

Pol Roger History

Pol Roger, a “Champenois” from Aÿ, founded his champagne house in Epernay in 1849. Over the next fifty years, until his death in 1899, he built his business into one of the most respected wines in Champagne and, in particular, forged strong trade links with Britain.

The founder was succeeded by his sons, Maurice and Georges, who changed their family name to Pol Roger by deed poll and, thereafter, by a further three generations (to date) of his direct descendants.

The supervisory board of family members (the Conseil de Surveillance) is headed by Christian de Billy, a great grandson of the founder. Christian’s son, is also a members.

In 2013 Laurent d’Harcourt, former Export Director, was appointed President of Pol Roger. 

Pol Roger House

Champagne Pol Roger, with stocks of 7.5 million of bottles representing some 4 to5 year’s supply, is among the smallest of the great Champagne houses, but ranks with the very highest in terms of prestige and an uncompromising reputation for quality.

It remains proudly independent, one of a very select brand of “Grandes Marques” still remaining in family hands.

The company owns some 88 hectares of vineyards on prime sites in the Vallée de la Marne, the Montagne de Reims and in the Côte des Blancs.

The remainder of its supplies comes from individual growers, many of whom have supplied Champagne Pol Roger for generations.

Pol Roger Style

Distinction and elegance, this is Pol Roger style. According to Laurent d’Harcourt, in each bottle of Pol Roger one will find complexity with finesse. 

The House cellars extends to 7 km in the chalk below Epernay and are among the coolest and deepest in the region, contributing no doubt to the excellent, persistent mousse of small bubbles which distinguishes all Pol Roger champagnes.

It is not surprising therefore that Winston Churchill and the British Royal Family made Pol Roger their favourite champagne. 

To learn more about Pol Roger read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Laurent d’Harcourt.

 

Pol Roger Champagnes


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Ruinart

RUINART- CHAMPAGNE HOUSE

RUINART HISTORY

The House of RUINART was officially founded in 1729, as it was only on the 25th May 1728 that a royal decree authorized the transport of champagne wine in baskets containing 50 or 100 bottles. Prior to that date wines could only be transported in casks. Therefore the right to transport bottles opened up the market throughout France and even further afield for the wine merchants in Reims.

At that time Nicolas Ruinart was working for his father in the drapery trade. His uncle Dom Thierry Ruinart, a visionary Benedictine monk contemporary of Louis XIV, understood the promising future of the “wine with bubbles” produced from the vines of his native Champagne. France was under the reign of the young King Louis XV, and a certain lifestyle and refinement began to influence the market Dom Ruinart passed his intuition to his nephew.

On 1st September 1729, Nicolas Ruinart opened the very first ledger devoted to “wine with bubbles”. This document constitutes the official act for the foundation of the Champagne House RUINART.

The beginnings were very modest with just 170 bottles sold in 1730, with clients being essentially the same for both drapery and wines. However, being a very shrewd businessman and noticing a certain decline in the drapery business he decided to concentrate his efforts on the production of wine.

In 1735, RUINART abandoned the cloth trade to concentrate on the burgeoning champagne trade. This became Nicolas’s sole occupation and growth was exponential with  3,000 bottles sold in 1731, 36,000 in 1761, and onwards.

Wines were sold in the North of France and in the South of Belgium. Their clientele mainly comprised the wealthy middle class, artisans, and nobility.

Over a period of the next 30 years the RUINART progressed and developed: in 1764 Nicolas’s son Claude came into the business. Sales on the export were also developed. Germany became the up and coming market for Ruinart. Throughout the following century, Claude traveled extensively, and his journeys took him as far as America and Russia.

The Ruinart family continued to expand the House and on 12th April 1817, Louis XVIII granted nobility to François Irénée Ruinart.

The ever-increasing activity necessitated new storing solutions. RUINART looked into the use of chalk pits exploited by the Romans. More or less abandoned, Claude Ruinart decided to acquire them as cellars.Until then the precious champagne bottles had been stored in the cellars of the private residences and that proved to be insufficient.

In the first quarter of the XIXth Century, the House invested in additional vineyards, extending the cellars and developing the clientele. New markets in England and the USA opened up.

However, World War I, the crash of 1929, and World War II, had a toll on RUINART. In 1946 there were only 10,000 bottles left in stock, and only two customers, in Paris; RUINART was on the brink of disappearing. In the same year Bertrand Mure, a family member, took over and started rebuilding the House and the brand from scratch. This is when the House decided to refocus on Chardonnay, which today characterizes RUINART champagnes.

After a glorious past and a number of vicissitudes, RUINART has joined the LVMH luxury group and has since become one of the most appreciated and respected champagne brands in France.

RUINART HOUSE

RUINART is currently managed by Frédéric Dufour and its Cellar Master is Frédéric Panaïotis. The House sells an estimated 3 million bottles per year.

RUINART STYLE

RUINART champagnes are characterized by an unusually high percentage of Chardonnay in the blends, resulting in a fine freshness and elegance, with a certain power.

Ruinart Champagnes

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Salon

Salon History

Champagne Salon was founded in 1911 by Eugene Aimé Salon, aesthete and amateur of Champagne, who initially created the perfect Champagne initially for his and his own friends‘ consumption. Son of a Champenois cart maker Aimé went to Paris, where he found a position in the fur trade, initially as a messenger boy, then rapidly gaining responsibility and taking the company‘s destiny into his own hands, and doing so becoming of the most glittering personalities of Parisian life at the turn of the century. Though he travelled a lot for work, he always kept close ties with champagne: tasting differentt champagnes, he would always wanted to create one by himself.

So, at the beginning of the 1900s, he bought a vineyard in one of the best cru, in Mesnil sur Oger, in the heart of Côte des Blancs, with the purpose to produce a non-blended Champagne for him and his relatives. Encouraged by his friends, Aimé Salon decided to start selling this champagne after the first world war. In 1921 , the trademark “Salon” was born.The first known vintage was 1905 and from that moment the House has created 37 vintages, only in the best years, which is approximately 3 years out of 10. When Aimé Salon died in 1943, the House was acquired by Dubonnet, then by Pernod-Ricard and finally by Laurent-Perrier in 1988.

Salon is today the sister of Delamotte House inside the Laurent Perrier group, the latter producing non vintage champagnes while Salon focusing only on vintages, from one single cru, le Mesnil-sur-Oger, from one single grape variety, Chardonnay, and only in the best years, leaving to Delamotte the grapes of those years without a vintage.

Salon House

Salon produces only one single Champagne, the Salon « S », always as vintage and, unlike most champagnes, it is only made up of Chardonnay. Thensuper-premium Blanc de Blancs produced comes from a single one hectare plot « jardin de Salon » and the same original 20 parcels in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.

Salon only produces its vintages in exceptional years, when the quality of the grapes is deemed to be very good, and the House produces only on limited quantity (60000 bottles for the vintage 1995), and after a long cellar aging period – 10 years instead of 3 to 5 years for other champagne – when it is reached the perfect marriage of acidity and fruit. Grapes are picked and sorted by hand, pressing is carried out at le Mesnil-sur-Oger, with a traditional press used only for Salon and only the first pressing, or cuvée, is used, the purest, freshest juice, containing the highest percentage of acidity, which is essential to the evolution and vivacity of the Champagne.

Salon exports 95% of the production to sixty countries, where Salon is recognised among the top houses worldwide. In Japan, in particular, Salon is considered the King of Blanc des Blancs, followed by Usa and Uk; the House is also growing in markets like Brasil, India, China and Russia.

Cellar master is Michel Fauconnet, who is also in charge of the blending of Laurent Perrier and Delamotte. Since 1997 Salon is directed, along with Delamotte, by Didier Depond, who is also Executive President of Laurent Perrier.

Salon Style

Salon is one of the rarest and most expensive Champagne’s on the planet, only made in exceptional years and there have only been 37 vintages in the last century. This top of the class champagne, Salon “S”, is only made of grapes sourced from vineyards in the Côte des Blancs region, from a one-hectare parcel owned by Salon: “Salon’s garden”, and from 19 other smaller parcels in Mesnil-sur-Oger, chosen by Eugène-Aimé Salon at the beginning of the century.

Every step of the production has to be controlled: obtained from one single cru in Mesnil sur Oger, one the best cru in Champagne region for Chardonnay grapes, the champagne is then cellared in the bottle for an average of 10 years, gaining in complexity and finesse. Every parcel is fermented separately and lees are kept more than the usual time in the wine, so to allow the wine to gain structure and to last more, so to taste it even after 25-30 years. Salon, conscious of the rarity and pureness of this champagne, chooses to produce it only when there are the perfect conditions for the ripening of the grapes and they are perfectly balanced in fruitiness and acidity.

It is a champagne rich and with complex aromas: its colour bright yellow diamond, with a fine, persistent mousse and long creamy finish has notes of bergamot and saline flavours followed by vanilla, dried fruits and buttery notes and the freshness of grapefruit and fig, revealing its wondrous and unique character. It is easily compared in its fullness and richness to the great wines of Burgundy.

To learn more about Salon read BestChampagne exclusive interview with its President Didier Depond.


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Taittinger

HISTORY

In 1734, Jacques Fourneaux, a Champagne wine merchant, entered the champagne adventure at a time when the Benedictine abbeys of Hautvillers, Pierry, Verzy and Saint-Nicaise in Reims owned the finest vineyards and made their first sparkling wines. His son, advisor to the king, frequently traveled abroad and contributed to the company’s growth. Jacques Fourneaux founded the company that would later become Taittinger.

In 1870, the Taittinger family left the Lorraine region after the Treaty of Frankfurt and moved to Paris in order to retain their French citizenship after the Franco-Prussian War and the Treaty of Frankfurt.

In 1915, General de Castelnau set up his headquarters at Château de la Marquetterie during the Battle of Champagne.Pierre Taittinger, a young officer at the time, fell in love with the property and swore to return after the war. 

In 1932, Pierre Taittinger bought Château de la Marquetterie from the wine house Forest-Fourneaux, including its vineyards that had been planted with Chardonnay and Pinot noir since the 18th Century. 

From 1945, François Taittinger, son of Pierre and an innovative man with great foresight, managed the House and defined its signature style. He decided that Chardonnay would be the brand’s dominant grape variety, realizing that in the 20th century champagne consumers would appreciate the qualities of finesse, lightness and elegance.

Taittinger’s signature style has earned the House its worldwide reputation for excellence and allowed it to prosper. 

When François Taittinger died in 1960 following an accident his younger brother Claude Taittinger took over the company until 2005 when Champagne Taittinger was sold by the Taittinger family to the US private investment firm Starwood Capital Group.

The Champagne stakeholder advocated that the new foreign ownership was not compatible with the production of quality champagne that requires time, and trust in the authority to the Chef de Cave, as opposed to short-term profitability. 

As a result in 2006, the Taittinger family led by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, Claude’s nephew, bought the House back for 660 million euros. He is currently the President of the House and he is assisted by his son and daughter Clovis and Vitalie. 

THE HOUSE

Today Taittinger is one of the most famous champagne brands and one of the largest Houses in Champagne and the largest family run.

Yet it impeccably produces high-quality champagnes, consistently, also thanks to its own unusually large vineyard of 288 hectares that accounts for about 1/2 of the House grapes’ needs. 

Composed of Chardonnay (35% compared to only 27% in the Champagne region), Pinot Noir (50%) and Pinot Meunier (15%), the vineyard faithfully reflects the Taittinger style.

Located in the finest regions of the Champagne winegrowing country, from the Côte des Blancs to the Vallée de la Marne and the Montagne de Reims, the vines cover 712 acres distributed among some of the best 34 villages in the Champagne appellation area. They are entirely grown using the latest cutting-edge sustainable farming techniques. Some plots are tended using organic viticultural methods.

Taittinger also deliberately extends the aging time of its champagnes far beyond the legal minimum time, with three to four years for the Brut Réserve and nearly ten for its acclaimed prestige cuvée Comtes de Champagne. This ensures that champagnes are sold when ready to be enjoyed at their best. 

The executor of this vision and guarantor of Taittinger’s style and quality is Loïc Dupont Chef de Cave since 2000.


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Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin

Veuve Clicquot History

The Clicquot Champagne House was founded in 1772, when Philippe Clicquot-Muiron, who dealt principally in textiles and finance, decided to transform a certain number of vineyards owned nearby Bouzy and Ambonnay into a wine business.

In 1801, he retired and handed control to his son Francois, at that time already married to Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin.

They led the business together until 1805 when Francoise, just 30 years, died, and widow (veuve) Ponsardin decided to take the family business in hand, becoming one of the first business women in a world predominantly domained by men.

Madame Clicquot Ponsardin showed a great business acumen, breaking the Russian market in a moment when the the reign was considered lost in Europe, thrown into turmoil by Napoleon and his ambitions: in 1811, as Napoleon’s blockades fell, she dispatched a consignment of 110000 bottles throughout Europe, 25000 of which for Russia.

In 1816 with the assistance of her cellar master, Antoine de Müller,the brilliant Dame invented the first ridding table, a process that continues to be used today as it is a crucial step in the clarification of champagne: the system is centred around wooden racks into which the bottles are placed neck first at an angle of 45 degrees, turned and tilted each day so to allow the sediments to come into the neck right behind the cork, ready to be removed during disgorgement.

Thanks to this Veuve Clicquot’s new technique, champagne would no longer require decanting before serving, or being left in the glass for the sediment to settle.

In 1828 the company fell into a financial crisis but thanks to Eduoard Werlé, a wealthy employee of the company who paid off the firm’s debts, the company could make it and Werlé was made partner in the business, leading the house as financial chief from 1841, when Madame Nicole-Barbe retirement’s unteil her death, in 1866, at the age of 89.

The Werlé family, Edouard and his son Alfred, ran on the business in the following years developing the groundwork laid by Nicole-Barbe: they acquired more new plots of vines and in 1877 they began utilising a yellow label for the wines, an unusual colour for champagne at the time.

In and registered this same label under the trademark “Veuve Clicquot P. Werlé” Yellow Label. Werlè family always recognised the great importance of the work done by Madame Clicquot-Ponsardin and in 1972, 200 years after the foundation, the House launched the prestigious cuvee “La Grande Dame”, as – it seems – Lady Clicquot-Ponsardin used to be named in the region.

Though the respect for the traditions the House kept on the process of innovation and in 1909 acquired the crayerers (chalk tunnels) located on the Saint Nicaise Hills, which today stretch over more than 24 km.

In 1987 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin became part of the LVMH-Moet Hennessy, where it remains today, headed up by president Cécile Bonnefond, with vineyard manager Christian Renard and cellar master Jacques Péters.

Veuve Clicquot House

As of March 2012, Jean-Marc Lacave is the new Chief Executive Officer of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, since the appointment of Stéphane Baschiera – former CEO – as Chief Executive Officer of Moet & Chandon.The House produces aproximately 8 Millions bottles per year.

The vineyard is one of the foremost vineyards in the Champagne region. In terms of both size and quality, it covers 515 hectares, scattered over 12 of the 17 Grand Crus and 14 of the 44 Premier Crus.

The productive vineyards, on 485 hectares, are split between land belonged to Veuve Clicquot (360 hectares) itself and land owned by the LVMH group (125 hectares).

The vineyards boast an exceptional average classification of close to 97%, a ranking that is based on the winegrowing properties of the terroir and the quality of the grapes produced.

The vines are mostly planted on the hillside where the soil is the shallowest and exposure to the sun is at a maximum. They are planted in white grapes (Chardonnay – 47%) and two varieties of black grapes that render a colourless juice (Pinot Noir – 42% and Pinot Meunier – 11%). Vinestocks are determined for each vineyard depending on the soil, climate and sun exposure.

Veuve Clicquot Style

The motto of the house “one quality only, the finest” is followed ever since the harvest: Veuve Clicquot employs more than 1200 grape pickers every year.

Every precaution is taken to ensure that the grapes remain intact right up to the moment of pressing, and a network of Veuve Clicquot pressing centres, with a press in each sector, cuts the distance and time between the vine and the presses to a minimum.

Moreover, the vines are mostly planted on the hillside where the soil is the shallowest and exposure to the sun is at a maximum. Vinestocks are determined for each vineyard depending on the soil, climate and sun exposure.

The blending team guided by cellar master Dominique Demarville (tenth cellar master, appointed in 2011), must also comb through the reserve wines, kept for 10 to 20 years, to uncover the typical flavours that will uphold the Veuve Clicquot style in light of the wines of the year’s harvest.

Only the juice from the cuvee (the first – and most noble – pressing) is used, blended using approximately fifty different crus, predominatly of Pinot Noir and with a use of between 25 and 40% of reserve wines.

Non-vintages are aged for a minimum of 36 months and vintage wines for a minimum of five years. VeuveClicquot champagnes are very lightly dose.

The small dosage of liqueur allows the House’s emblematic wine to fully express the values that characterize the VeuveClicquot style: powerful and complex. Rounded, deeper, fuller, more pungent, and as far as the non-vintage is concerned, more age-worthy.

Veuve Clicquot Champagnes


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