European Editor


Reviews wines from Portugal and France.

Champagne Wines

Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Rhône Valley are the best known wine regions of France except for Champagne. This sparkling wine from the chalk slopes east of Paris is France’s best answer to a global brand. It is the drink of celebration, of success, and the best way to drown sorrows. And, unlike the still French wines, which have been successfully copied around the world, Champagne remains inimitable, despite thousands of attempts. The combination of cool climate, chalk soil and — there’s no other word for it — terroir are just so special.
Like virtually every part of France, the Champagne wine region is subdivided into smaller parts, but unlike in other parts of France, those subregions rarely appear on the bottle. Although there are exceptions, like Blanc de Blancs and vintage Champagnes, most Champagnes are blends from different areas and even different vintages, using the three Champagne grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir. Search our Champagne wine guide’s hundreds of Champagne reviews for more details on individual wines and for our comprehensive database of Champagne ratings.

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100
points

Krug 1998 Clos du Mesnil Chardonnay (Champagne)

  • Cellar Selection
  1. $1400
A wine that has created its own universe. It has a unique, special softness that allies with the total purity that comes from a small, enclosed single vineyard. The fruit is almost irrelevant here, because it comes as part of a much deeper complexity. This is a great wine, at the summit of Champagne, a sublime, unforgettable experience.  — R.V.  (12/1/2010)
99
points

Moët & Chandon 1996 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque Brut Sparkling (Champagne)

  • Cellar Selection
  1. $385
A magnificent Champagne, one that is light, delicate, yet packed with character. It is beautifully balanced, with a bone-dry character, just softened by the toastiness that is developing. Expect this to age for many years.  — R.V.  (12/1/2010)
98
points

Louis Roederer 2002 Cristal Brut Sparkling (Champagne)

  1. $289
This is an exceptional wine, as is the vintage. The fruits—grapefruit, crisp red apple—balance with a fine yeasty character. There is a great depth of flavor, the fruits going in a pure line of freshness. The one problem is that it is much too young, the result of the demand from the market for the next vintage. Age this wine for at least four years.  — R.V.  (12/1/2008)
98
points

Henriot 1995 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut Sparkling (Champagne)

  1. $170
A glorious Champagne, now at the peak of its powers and maturity. It is rich, creamy, lightly toasty, cookies and yeast propelling the fruits and acidity forward into a wonderful texture. This wine confirms Henriot’s place at the top tables of Champagne.  — R.V.  (12/1/2010)
98
points

Krug 1981 Collection Sparkling (Champagne)

  1. $500
This is the current vintage of the limited-release Collection series, in which wines are held in stock, in bottle, by Krug for later release. This fabulous 1981 is mature, but still evolving. Gold in color, it is toasty, integrating flavors of nuts, cocoa and toffee, along with still fresh acidity.  — R.V.  (11/1/2006)
97
points

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1990 Cave Privée Brut Sparkling (Champagne)

  1. $208
This toasty, superbly mature wine is part of a series of releases featuring the house’s cellar-matured Champagnes. This emerges from the glass with complex flavors of almond, brioche, citrus and a hint of steeliness. The majestic richness of the wine has fully justified its decades of aging.  — R.V.  (12/1/2012)
97
points

Louis Roederer 2004 Cristal Brut Sparkling (Champagne)

  • Cellar Selection
  1. $229
Exceptionally rich and dense, an exceptional wine that reveals itself in layers, from the first fruit attack to the mineral texture and the way it gradually fills the mouth. Selected from old vines, there is a great flavor in this wine, with the promise of many years’ aging.  — R.V.  (12/1/2010)
97
points

Henriot 1996 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs Brut Sparkling (Champagne)

  • Cellar Selection
  • Online Exclusive
  1. $185
With all the extreme intensity of this vintage, this wine brings even more. The start of cookie yeast and toast character, a vibrant mineral texture, hints of spice, green herbs and a final white peach flavor. It is still young, just keep aging.  — R.V.  (12/1/2010)
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