Champagne is a beloved sparkling wine that is adored by so many people throughout the world, even though it comes from the small region of Champagne in France. The grapes originating there are perfect for this high standard beverage and each champagne house uses its own traditions and personalized methods.
Although they have to abide by strict rules set by the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée), each house found its own way of producing this delicious beverage. The actual Champagne name is protected by European law, and the other regions in the world that produce this type of wine can only refer to it as “sparkling wine”.
Many people grab a bottle of champagne to celebrate a special event, or simply to accompany a good dinner. It is definitely a versatile drink that is appropriate for any social gathering.
How do they produce Champagne?
A technical process, the first step in producing champagne is creating a still wine called assemblage, that’s made from different grapes and vintages. The second in-bottle fermentation follows by adding sugars, then it sits in cellars for at least 15 months. During this period the wine gets moved either by hand or machine.
The dead yeast, called lees, settles in the neck of the bottle and gets removed through disgorgement. Then some wine and sugar, or the dosage, are added to the mix, and the bottles get sealed with the mushroom cork.
Grapes Used for Champagne
Three main types of grapes are used for producing Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Other types are also allowed, and usually the label indicates the types of grapes the product consists of.
Definition of Brut
Brut refers to the dosage, or amount of sugar that is added to the finished product. It ranges from zero, or dryest, to the sweetest, which contains 50 grams of sugars. In order to be considered a Brut champagne, the bottle has to contain less than 12 grams of sugar per liter.
Vintage vs Non-Vintage
Non-vintage, or the majority of Champagnes, is a blend of harvests from different years. You will find NV on the label, and the blends can be made to consistently taste the same, no matter the climate that particular year.
Contrary to this, the Vintage Champagnes use grapes solely from a single year harvest. That is why you will not see a vintage come out every year. The conditions need to be ideal, which explains the higher price and rarity.
To be sure it’s actual champagne and not sparkling wine you’re buying, make sure the label indicates that it is made in France. To enjoy it, let it chill a couple of hours in the fridge til you get it to about 50 degrees F (10 degrees C), get a couple of glasses out, and cheers!
Without further ado, here are the best champagne brands and houses in the world right now.
This is a luxury house that brings you a variety of vintages. They produce their wines from a single cru, and their attention to detail is always exceptional. Their selection is consistent, and their wines are fruity and have lasting bubbles. The 2008 Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil is an exquisite offering.
This is a Napa Valley sparkling wine that has been compared to the Brut Champagne. Their 2011 Reserve Brut is known for its sophistication. The aromas of caramel apple and baked pear will stand out nicely when paired with oysters or strong cheeses. The fresh acidity on the palate and the near nutty tones are a lovely mix.
23. Giulio Ferrari
This is not a wine that comes from Champagne, but rather the Trentino region of Italy. It is therefore a sparkling wine, not a Champagne, but one worth mentioning. Their Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore 2007 is a spectacular vintage that pairs well with Italian vegetarian dishes such as mozzarella or a Mediterranean fish soup.
Producing Champagne for over three centuries, Philipponnat has mastered the art of wine making. The 2010 Extra Brut Clos des Goisses is one of their most popular, yet rare offerings. A full bodied wine with a long finish pairs well with other strong flavors, such as truffles, caviar, or cheese.
The champagne at the Maison Lanson is characterized as being timeless and elegant. They boast three ranges: a core range, a rare and Exceptional collection, and finally the Cuvee de Prestige. Their long term partnerships allow them to access grapes from a wide variety of crus, and they own more than 140 acres of land.
The empire owned by Elisabeth Salmon and Nicolas Francois Billecart was established in 1818. It has been in the family for seven generations, and they produce Champagne using ancestral methods. They have four collections: Clos Saint-Hilaire, Gallery Collection, Gallery Millésime, and Rendez-vous de Billecart-Salmon.They are all exceptional wines worth a try.
The house uses chalk quarries that Madame Pommery transformed into cellars. Their sustainability efforts have improved noticeably in the last few years. Some of their most popular offerings range from the exceptional cuvee of Les Clos Pompadour, to the Brut Pommery and Les Cuvees Louise.
18. Le Chemin Du Roi
The translation of this brand’s name is “the King’s Path”, and Champagne Castelnau is the vineyard that produces their wine. Their signature King chess piece adorns all of their bottles. Owner “50 Cent”, or Curtis Jackson, bought it a few years ago, and their range includes three expressions. The Brut, the Rose, and finally, the Blanc de Blancs, which is part of the exclusive Collection Privee.
This champagne brand was very popular with the likes of Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, and more contemporary Marilyn Monroe. Probably one of the most famous Champagne houses, they offer you a range of expressions.
Whether you’re into vintage or non-vintage wines, they’ve got you covered. Their Riviera is the epitome of the art-de-vivre of life on the French Riviera that many dream of. Their signature flagship is, without a doubt, the Cuvee Brut.
Ruinart Maison was established in 1729, and they are famous for using Crayeres (chalk cellars), to age their champagne. They have a variety of offerings, ranging from Blanc de Blancs to a rose, and their latest vintage, a 2007 Blanc vintage.
They all have their particularities, depending on your taste. Their rose is the perfect accompaniment to lamb or sliced prosciutto, while their Blanc de Blancs pairs well with seafood.
15. Pol Roger
Since Winston Churchill was a big fan of the house, they made a Prestige Cuvee in his honor. It has notes of acacia honey, gingerbread, roasted almonds and hazelnut liquor. The family still owns and operates their business, six generations in. They offer a variety of vintage and non-vintage expressions, all excellent options. Their Brut, Blanc de Blancs, or their delicate rose will impress you.
14. Mod Selection
Their bottles’ designs are simply lush, and they represent the legacy of this historic house. One of the finest champagne houses around, their Reserve features layers of vibrant fruit and lively aromas.
Their rose is also a must try, with a luscious palate of red fruits. Or if you’re into a more traditional taste, go for the 2008 vintage Reserve. Their other two varieties, the Blanc de Blancs or the Blanc de Noir are all exquisite and unique.
Renowned for an intricate and floral style, they mainly use the Chardonnay grape for their wines. A blend of two families by marriage , the house represents passion with a bold vision.
Their flagship range, Belle Epoque, is the perfect example of their values, and it features the white anemones that were painted by Art Nouveau master Emile Galle. Their Grand Brut is balanced and refined, and is considered their brand’s foundation.
12. Charles Heidsieck
The other branch of the Maison Piper Heidsiek, Charles-Camille is the smallest of the Grandes Marques Champagne Houses. They do bring you excellent wine that has been aged in chalk cellars that date back to the third century. The Crayeres Collection pays homage to those cellars, but you can also get familiar with their other offerings. The Brut Reserve or the Blanc des Millenaires are great options.
Bollinger has been around since 1829, and they bring you Champagne that can be characterized as having character, complexity, and elegance. Their most predominant grapes are Pinot Noir, and their expressions are consistent year after year.
The collection has a good mix of both vintage and NV offerings. The brioche, pear and spicy aromas of the Special Cuvee make this a great bottle to share with loved ones on a special occasion.
10. Laurent Perrier
The Maison Laurent Perrier has four strong beliefs they abide by. They think that it’s the blend that makes the best wines, and they strongly encourage innovation. They use Chardonnay as their main grape in all of their wines, and therefore create elegance, freshness and purity in all their cuvees. For lovers of roses, they have two expressions available. The Alexandra Rose 2004, a rarity, and the Cuvee Rose.
9. G.H. Mumm
You will notice their signature red ribbon across their bottles, and you’ll know it’s a G.H. Mumm. With German roots, this house is based in Reims. They offer a range of incredible expressions. For a special bottle, indulge in their range of reserves.
The RSVR Lalou 2006, for example, uses fruits from seven plots and they age their bottled wine for ten years. For a touch of sweetness, you might prefer the Grand Gordon Rose, with its hints of red berries and a bright finish.
8. Armand De Brignac
Most commonly known as the Ace of Spades because of the famous logo the bottles carry, it is owned by Jay Z and Moet Hennessy. The producers are Champagne Cartier, and they make a variety of vintages. Their flagship style is Brut Gold, made of 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, and 20% Pinot Meunier.
The notes of cherries and exotic fruits, blended with hints of honey, lemon, and vanilla will give your palate a feast. There’s also a popular demi-sec, Chardonnay Blancs de Blancs, or Blanc de Noirs Assemblages Three that will please you. They even made one of the most expensive champagnes ever, a 30 Liter bottle of Armand de Brignac Brut Rose.
This is a vintage-only label that comes from the Maison Louis Roederer. It was created in 1876, and it contains 40% Chardonnay and 60% Pinot Noir grapes for a balanced taste. The grapes are aged for six years and then they are left to sit for another eight months.
Their latest vintage, the 2013, has notes of roasted hazelnuts, nectarines, candied orange, and mirabelle plums. The grapes contain 45 crus, from three terroirs, la Vallée de la Marne, la Côte des Blancs, et la Montagne des Reins.
This is a family-owned and run champagne house, and they have been in operation since 1932. The winery itself goes back all the way to 1734, and the Taittinger family still uses the unique savoir-faire the original founder created.
One of their most famous expressions is The Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs, which reflects their exceptional harvests from the Grand Cru villages. Among other favorites is the vintage release Brut Reserve, with notes of honey and fresh fruits.
5. Moet & Chandon
Possibly the most well-known Champagne brands on the planet, they gained their spot by using a one-of-a kind savoir-faire. Their distinctive profile includes bright fruitiness and vibrant bouquets. Their vines are grown on chalky and rich soils, which impacts the taste of the grapes.
Among the non-vintage expressions you will find the Moet Imperial, which has tasting notes of peaches and apples. The Moet Rose distinguishes itself with its wild strawberries, gooseberries and raspberries notes.
Based in Reims, Krug is one of the most famous wineries and is part of the Grandes Marques brands. Established in 1843 by Joseph Krug, their approach is to build an extensive collection of reserve wines.
They blend over 120 wines from ten different years, so the conditional fluctuations don’t have a huge impact on their yearly offerings. They offer a selection of styles, such as the two single-plot expressions Clos du Mesnil and Clos d’Ambonnay.
3. Louis Roederer
One of the few remaining maisons that is still family-owned and operated today, Louis Roederer has been around since 1883. The house brings a wide array of Champagnes, but they are famous for their Cristal vintage line. They have a few offerings that are very popular, such as the Brut Premier, their signature blend.
They have some dry non-vintage champagnes, but also some that contain a higher dosage of sweetness. Some of their other great vintages are a Brut or Rosé vintage, or their excellent Blanc de Blancs.
2. Veuve Clicquot
This is a popular champagne brand with Instagrammers due to its bright personality and aesthetics. One of the oldest champagne houses, it was established in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot. Madame Clicquot, his daughter-in-law, is the first to bring a blend of rosé on the market.
Their vineyards are some of the largest in the world, and they age their wine in chalk cellars, which are located underground. One of their most famous offerings is the Brut Yellow Label, which includes blended wines from 50 to 60 crus that are aged for at least three years.
1. Dom Perignon
This brand is the epitome of luxurious Champagne. One of the most famous champagne houses in the world, Moet & Chandon is also the one that is responsible for producing this exquisite cuvee. They use solely single year harvested grapes, which they let sit for a minimum of eight years.
Every release has its own unique characteristics, due to fluctuations in the amount of rainfall, harvest, and overall weather that particular year. Each bottle contains a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes exclusively.
We hope you liked the selections we picked. We believe they represent the best the Champagne market has to offer. Do you agree?
- How do they produce Champagne?
- 25. Salon
- 24. Schramsberg
- 23. Giulio Ferrari
- 22. Philipponnat
- 21. Lanson
- 20. Billecart-Salmon
- 19. Pommery
- 18. Le Chemin Du Roi
- 17. Piper-Heidsieck
- 16. Ruinart
- 15. Pol Roger
- 14. Mod Selection
- 13. Perrier-Jouet
- 12. Charles Heidsieck
- 11. Bollinger
- 10. Laurent Perrier
- 9. G.H. Mumm
- 8. Armand De Brignac
- 7. Cristal
- 6. Taittinger
- 5. Moet & Chandon
- 4. Krug
- 3. Louis Roederer
- 2. Veuve Clicquot
- 1. Dom Perignon