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.
With this vintage, there are signs of a wine that is maturing fast. That’s the initial impression. But at the same time, there are wonderful dry fruits, minerality and sweet hazelnuts, all finely in balance. The layers get more complex, bringing in toast as well as acidity. Almost ready, but worth aging.
A small plot of old Pinot Noir produces this superb wine. It has all the richness of wines from Aÿ, with its red fruits and hint of sweetness. But it is the structure, the complexity that sets it apart, the grapes ripe and concentrated from a great year. Age for at least another five years.
The fabled Salon’s latest release is much riper and softer than the great steely 1996 vintage. This suggests it is likely to be ready to drink soon. In the meantime, the acidity is supremely fresh, with grapefruit edges and green apple flavors. And then there is minerality and a tight, structured aftertaste as a reminder that this great Champagne is always going to…
A blend of 66% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay, this is opulent and full bodied, with toast and wood flavors. Rich and ripe, this beautiful wine is generous and still young, with just a touch of bitterness at the end.
The most recent vintage release from Pol Roger is this superb 2002. Notes of apple, almond, citrus and a hint of toast mingle together effortlessly. It can be consumed now, especially with food, but its mixture of maturity and freshness promise to age beautifully for many years to come.
A beauty in every respect. The nose is perfectly toasted, with attractive apple and peach nuances. The palate feel and its full-fruit flavors build into a crescendo of Champagne style. It’s clean, lusty and just the right call for a celebratory evening. Mouthfuls of total harmony don’t come often and they don’t come cheap.
Profound, finely nuanced single vineyard Champagne that weaves disparate elements into a stunning, seamless whole. A full range of caramel, floral, citrus, forest floor, mustard greens and dried cherry aromas and flavors work in great harmony. The mouthfeel displays a positive, brilliant tension: it's full-yet light, bright and zingy-but even, smooth, yet to some…