Performance tables 2002. Part I

Brut Non-vintage & Multi-vintage

In the last two editions I restricted this category to basic brut non-vintage, weeding out not just deluxe and special cuvées, but also any non-vintage cuvées that sold at a premium over the same producers regular non-vintage. However, such division and classification was not clear-cut. For example, no one would argue the fact that Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial is that producer’s house non-vintage, yet it sell for a premium over Moët & Chandon White Star, a Champagne that Moët has not seen fit to show to me once in a quarter of a century! In fact, I have never seen it at a trade tasting or wine fair in the UK. The only times I have ever tasted it have been when travelling in the USA, where most of it is sold, I suspect. If I had applied my own criteria strictly, Brut Impérial would not have appeared under this section in previous editions and not to include the world’s largest-selling brut non-vintage would have been ridiculous. I have decided, therefore, to encompass every recommended Champagne that does not carry a single vintage, whether it is absolute entry-level or a deluxe “multi-vintage” cuvée.

A Brut style must have between 0 and 15 grams per litre of residual sugar (added as the dosage after disgorgement), although most Champagnes at the lower-end of this scale will be sold as an Extra-Brut or a Brut Nature. The sugar should not be noticeable, even at the top end of the range, if properly balanced by ripe acidity. A true Brut should thus taste dry, but this does not mean austere, as young cuvées should possess fruit, while mature ones will have a mellowed richness.

95 Grand Siècle NV La Cuvée, Brut
95 Krug Grande Cuvée NV Brut
93 Jacquesson & Fils NV Mémoire du XX ème Siècle, Brut
91 Charles Heidsieck NV Brut Réserve, Mis en Cave en 1996
90 Pierre Paillard NV Bouzy Grand Cru Brut
90 Vilmart & Cie NV Grand Cellier, Brut Premier Cru
90 Charles Heidsieck NV Brut Réserve, Mis en Cave en 1997
90 Jacquart NV Brut de Nominée
90 Bollinger NV Special Cuvée, Brut (magnum)
90 Gosset NV Grande Réserve Brut (magnum)
90 Moët & Chandon Les Sarments d’Aÿ NV Aÿ Grand Cru
Note: in the book the above is incorrectly transposed with Les Champs de Romont.
89 De Saint Gall NV Brut Sélection
89 Charles Heidsieck NV Brut Réserve, Mis en Cave en 1995
88 Benoit Lahaye NV Brut
88 Louis de Sacy NV Brut Tradition
88 Marguet-Bonnerave NV Brut Réserve, Grand Cru
88 H. Blin & Co NV Brut Tradition
88 Paul Bara NV Bouzy Grand Cru Brut
88 Duval-Leroy NV Fleur de Champagne, Brut Premier Cru
88 Vilmart & Cie NV Cuvée Cellier, Brut
88 Brice NV Aÿ Grand Cru Brut
88 Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Réserve
88 Deutz NV Brut Classic
88 Perrier-Jouët NV Grand Brut
87 Bernard Brémont NV Brut
87 Eugène Mercier NV Cuvée du Fondateur, Brut
87 Marguet-Bonnerave NV Brut Tradition
87 Pierre Moncuit NV Brut Réserve
87 Marguet-Bonnerave NV Anciens Vintages 1995-1996, Brut Grand Cru
87 Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut
87 Bruno Paillard NV Brut Première Cuvée
87 Brice NV Bouzy Grand Cru Brut
87 Mumm Grand Cru NV Brut
87 Delbeck NV Bouzy, Brut Grand Cru
87 Laurent-Perrier NV Brut L.P.
87 Pommery NV Brut Apanage
87 Philipponnat NV Royale Réserve, Brut
87 Canard-Duchêne NV Charles VII Grande Cuvée, Brut
87 Piper-Heidsieck NV Cuvée Spéciale Jean-Paul Gaultier, Brut (magnum)
86 Tsarine NV Tête de Cuvée Brut, Chanoine
86 Jean-Louis Malard NV Pinot Noir & Chardonnay Brut
86 R. Renaudin NV Brut Réserve
86 Eric Rodez NV Cuvée des Grands Vintages, Brut Grand Cru
86 G. Fluteau NV Brut Carte Blanche
86 Henriot NV Brut Souverain
86 Moët & Chandon NV Brut Premier Cru
86 Alfred Gratien NV Brut
86 R de Ruinart NV Brut
85 Baron Albert NV Brut Tradition, Cuvée de l’An 2000
85 Bricout NV Cuvée Arthur Bricout, Brut Grand Cru
85 Guy Cadel NV Carte Blanche
85 R.C. Lemaire NV Sélect Réserve, Brut
85 Eric Rodez NV Cuvée des Crayères, Brut Grand Cru
85 Georges Vesselle NV Bouzy Grand Cru Brut
85 Henri Mandois NV Cuvée de Réserve, Brut
85 Michel Boilleau NV Brut Réserve
85 Charles Collin NV Brut
85 Henri Goutorbe NV Cuvée Tradition, Brut
85 Guy Larmandier NV Brut Premier Cru
85 François Secondé NV Brut Grand Cru
85 Georges Gardet NV Brut Spécial
85 Charles Clément NV Gustave Belon Brut
85 Gaston Chiquet NV Tradition, Brut Premier Cru
85 Boizel NV Brut Réserve
85 Princesse des Thunes NV Cuvée Prestige Brut, Grand Cru
85 Joseph Perrier NV Cuvée Royale Brut
85 Leclerc Briant NV Cuvée de Réserve Brut
85 Gosset NV Excellence Brut (magnum)
85 Delbeck NV Aÿ Grand Cru Brut
85 Pol Roger NV Brut White Foil
85 Besserat de Bellefon NV Cuvée des Moines, Brut
85 Mumm Cordon Rouge NV Brut
85 Pannier NV Cuvée Louis Eugène, Brut
85 Tarlant NV Cuvée Louis, Brut
85 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin NV Brut
85 Bollinger NV Special Cuvée, Brut
85 Louis Roederer NV Brut Premier (magnum)
85 Moët & Chandon Les Vignes de Saran NV Chouilly Grand Cru
85 Moët & Chandon Les Champs de Romont NV Sillery Grand Cru
Note: in the book the above is incorrectly transposed with Les Sarments d’Aÿ.
84 Beaumet NV Cuvée Brut
84 Chanoine NV Grande Réserve Brut
84 Daniel Dumont NV Grande Réserve Brut
84 René James Lallier NV Grande Réserve Brut
84 R.C. Lemaire NV Cuvée Trianon, Brut Premier Cru
84 Mercier NV Brut
84 Cristian Senez NV Brut
84 Charles Clément NV Tradition Brut
84 Clerambault NV Cuvée Tradition, Brut
84 Vilmart & Cie NV Grande Réserve, Brut Premier Cru
84 Moutard NV Brut Grande Cuvée
84 G.H. Martel & Co. NV Brut Prestige
84 Louis de Sacy NV Brut Grand Cru
84 Edouard Brun & Cie NV Réserve 1er Cru, Brut
84 Canard-Duchêne NV Brut
84 Veuve A. Devaux NV Grande Réserve, Brut
84 Drappier NV Carte-d’Or Brut
84 Roger Pouillon & Fils, 50 ème Anniversaire NV Fleur de Mareuil, Premier Cru
84 Ayala NV Brut
84 Besserat de Bellefon NV Brut Grande Tradition
84 Moët & Chandon NV Nectar Impérial
84 Delbeck NV Cramant Grand Cru Brut
84 Taittinger NV Brut Réserve
84 Canard-Duchêne NV Brut (magnum)
83 Alexandre Bonnet NV Cuvée Prestige Brut
83 A. Margaine NV Brut Premier Cru
83 Vollereaux NV Brut
83 Charles Collin NV Tradition Brut
83 Jean Moutardier NV Carte d’Or Brut
83 Jean Moutardier NV Carte d’Or Brut
83 Baron Albert NV Brut Carte d’Or
83 Albert Le Brun NV Vieille France, Brut
83 Marie-Noelle Ledru NV Brut Grand Cru
83 G. Tribaut NV Grande Cuvée Spéciale, Brut
83 Duval-Leroy NV Fleur de Champagne Brut
83 Heidsieck Monopole NV Blue Top Brut
83 Gauthier NV Grande Réserve Brut
83 Alain Thienot NV Brut
83 Pommery NV Brut Royal
82 G. de Barfontarc NV Extra Quality Brut
82 Bricout NV Cuvée Prestige, Brut Premier Cru
82 Philippe Gonet NV Brut
82 Jean-Paul Suss NV Brut Réserve
82 Michel Boilleau NV Cuvée Prestige, Brut
82 Moutard NV Brut Réserve
82 Clerambault NV Cuvée Carte Noire, Brut
82 de Castellane NV Croix Rouge Brut
82 Jacquart NV Brut Mosaïque
81 Bricout NV Cuvée Réserve Brut
81 de Venoge NV Brut Sélect, Cordon Bleu
81 Moët & Chandon NV Brut Impérial
80 Daniel Dumont NV Grande Réserve Brut
80 De Sousa NV Brut Réserve
80 Jean Velut NV Brut

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Brut Nature & Extra-Brut

Although I am not a great fan of non-dosage Champagnes, this has less to do with the style than its quality. Such wines do not improve with age because sugar is required for a Champagne to age gracefully after disgorgement (see Reaction Maillard in the Glossary). The older a Champagne is before it is disgorged, the less dosage required because it will have a more mellowed taste, but no matter how old or great the Champagne is, without a certain amount of sugar it will turn coarse and oxidative. Sugar brings finesse and enables further ageing.

97 Bollinger 1979 R.D. Extra Brut
95 Bollinger 1985 R.D. Extra Brut
92 Bollinger 1982 R.D. Extra Brut
90 André et Michel Drappier NV Brut Nature, Pinot Noir Zero Dosage
89 Bollinger 1988 R.D. Extra Brut
88 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils NV Cuvée Oenophile, Blanc de Blancs, Extra-Brut
88 Duval-Leroy 1995 Fleur de Champagne, Extra Brut Millésimé
87 Roger Pouillon et Fils 1995 Le Millésime, Extra Brut Chardonnay Grand Cru
87 Jacques Selosse NV Extra Brut, Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

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Sec & Extra Sec

Sec (or Dry) is rarely seen these days. It can contain anything between 17 and 35 grams per litre of residual sugar, thus ranging between barely sweeter than a Brut and as sweet as a Demi-Sec. Extra-Sec is far more commonly encountered, although only one tasted this year was worthy of recommendation. This style actually overlaps Brut and the dry end of Sec, with between 12 and 20 grams per litre of sugar. These Champagnes can be very useful at the table where savoury dishes contain a certain sweetness or fruitiness.

87 Louis Roederer NV Rich Sec
82 Vollereaux NV Extra Dry


For many years this sweet style, which must have between 35 and 50 grams of residual sugar, has been debased by the vast majority of Champagne producers who have pandered to an unsophisticated sector of French supermarket customers who like to drink sweet. By this I do not mean that sweetness in Champagne or indeed any wine is debasing or that to enjoy sweetness is a sign of poor taste, but there are vast numbers who can only enjoy sweet drinks and cannot taste beyond that sweetness, thus Champagne producers have been able to hide their inferior wines behind a mask of sugar. However, we are gradually seeing a rise in the number of high quality demi-sec produced.

87 Mumm Cordon Vert NV Demi-Sec
85 de Venoge NV Demi-Sec, Cordon Bleu
85 Louis de Sacy 1985 Cuvée Tentation, Demi-Sec
85 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin NV Demi-Sec
85 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1995 Rich Réserve
83 Jacquart NV Demi-Sec

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Vintage Brut Champagne: 1998 & 1997

First impressions can be misleading, but they do to confirm my feelings at vin clair stage. Neither year was a great vintage, but like 1992 and 1993 I suspect that we will see a large number of very good Champagnes and not a few truly excellent one. That is because they were large harvests and with strict selection it was easy to blend wines well above the average quality. Furthermore, if we see as many producers declaring these two vintages as we did 1992 and 1993, it is easier for pundits to find the wines that stick out in terms of pure quality. In terms of fruit, structure and acidity 1998 seems to mirror 1993 while 1997 is similar to 1992. In theory the 1997s have a slight edge over the 1998s, just as the 1992s had over the 1993s, yet it was a close call and quite possibly the 1993s will eventually be seen to have triumphed, so who knows? Especially as the earliest that the 1998s can be commercially disgorged is January 2002 and we won’t see many examples of this vintage on the shelf until the second quarter of 2003. The 1998 here is, of course, a preview sample.

87 Mumm Cordon Rouge 1998 Brut Millésime
87 Mumm Cordon Rouge 1997 Brut Millésime
85 Gallimard Père & Fils 1997 Cuvée Prestige, Brut Millésime

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1996

The problem with announcing that any vintage is special is that it will be a long time before the first wines hit the market, thus anticipation inevitably builds up, yet the first Champagnes to be released of any vintage are unlikely to be the best, consequently hopes are often dashed. It happened with the 1990s, but look how great those turned out to be (and some like Krug are not expected to be launched for a year or more). We are now only just beginning to see the start of the first wave of 1996s. There is some dross, as there always will be, whatever the vintage, but after they have been eliminated we are left with some exceptionally fine offerings for such an early juncture in the campaign. I am more convinced than ever that 1996 could well be greater than 1990.

98 Vilmart & Cie 1996 Coeur de Cuvée, Brut Premiers Crus
97 Pol Roger 1996 Brut
97 Gosset 1996 Grand Millésime Brut
91 Henri Mandois 1996 Cuvée Victor Mandois, Brut
90 Cuvée Charles Gardet 1996 Brut
90 Mailly Grand Cru 1996 La Terre, Brut
90 Pommery 1996 Brut Millésimé, B42
89 Henri Mandois 1996 Millésimé, Brut Premier Cru
89 Mumm Cordon Rouge 1996 Brut Millésime
88 Perrier-Jouët 1996 Grand Brut
88 J. Charpentier 1996 Brut Millésime
87 Joseph Loriot-Pagel 1996 Brut Cuvée de Réserve
87 Henri Goutorbe 1996 Brut Grand Cru
87 Delbeck 1996 Cuvée Origines, Brut (magnum)
85 G.H. Martel & Co. 1996 Cuvée Victoire, Brut
84 Philippe Brugnon 1996 Brut
84 Paul Goerg 1996 Millésimé, Brut Premier Cru
84 Marie-Noelle Ledru 1996 Brut Millésime Grand Cru
84 Egérie de Pannier 1996 Brut
84 Taittinger 1996 Brut Millésimé

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1995

The extra maturity of the 1993s and 1992s made the best Champagnes from those years seem better than the 1995s last year, but we are now into the full swing of this vintage and it is blossoming beautifully. Not only is this vintage showing more class in general than either 1993 or 1992, it is turning out to be even better than 1995 was expected to be, and there are a number of top-notch 1995s still to come

97 Bollinger 1995 Grande Année, Brut
93 Gosset Celebris 1995 Brut
92 Louis Roederer 1995 Cristal Brut
91 Goutorbe 1995 Brut Grand Cru
91 Pol Roger 1995 Brut
91 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1995 Les Cuvées de l’An 2000, Brut (magnum)
90 Ployez-Jacquemart 1995 Brut Vintage
90 Taittinger 1995 Brut Millésimé
90 Billecart-Salmon 1995 Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart, Brut
90 Deutz 1995 Cuvée William Deutz, Brut
90 Perrier-Jouët 1995 Belle Epoque Brut
89 Nicolas Feuillatte 1995 Verzy
89 Drappier 1995 Grande Sendrée, Brut
89 Deutz 1995 Brut
89 R de Ruinart 1995 Brut
89 Louis Roederer 1995 Brut Vintage
89 Alain Thienot 1995 Grande Cuvée, Brut
89 Delbeck 1995 Cuvée Origines, Brut (magnum)
88 de Venoge 1995 Brut Millésimé
88 Alain Thienot 1995 Brut Millésime
88 Lanson Gold Label 1995 Brut
88 Moët & Chandon 1995 Brut Impérial
88 Egérie de Pannier 1995 Brut
88 Bruno Paillard 1995 Brut Millésime
88 Pommery 1995 Brut Grand Cru
87 Tsarine 1995 Brut Millésime, Chanoine
87 Nicolas Feuillatte 1995 Mesnil
87 Maurice Vesselle 1995 Brut Millésime, Grand Cru
87 Cuvée Charles Gardet 1995 Brut
87 Joseph Perrier 1995 Cuvée Royale Brut
87 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1995 Brut Vintage Réserve
86 Nicolas Feuillatte 1995 Cramant
86 H. Blin & Co 1995 Brut
86 Duval-Leroy 1995 Fleur de Champagne, Millésimé Brut
86 Henriot 1995 Brut Millésime
85 Beaumet 1995 Cuvée Brut
85 Demoiselle 1995 Grande Cuvée Brut
85 Nostalgie 1995 Brut
85 de Castellane 1995 Croix Rouge Brut Millésimé
84 Guy Charbaut 1995 Brut
84 Daniel Dumont 1995 Brut Réserve Millésime, Premier Cru
84 Nicolas Feuillatte 1995 Chouilly
84 Mercier 1995 Vendange Brut
84 Piper-Heidsieck 1995 Brut
84 Jean Velut 1995 Cuvée Millésimée, Brut
84 Beaumont des Crayères 1995 Fleur de Prestige, Brut
84 Tarlant 1995 Brut
84 Massé 1995 Brut
82 Guy Cadel 1995 Brut
82 Heidsieck Monopole 1995 Gold Top Brut
80 Besserat de Bellefon 1995 Brut Grande Tradition

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1994

The worst of the lesser vintages between the great 1990s and the excellent 1995s, all four of which were spoiled by rain at harvest time. Nothing this year to challenge Louis Roederer Cristal (92 points) from the last edition.

85 La Préférence de Baron Albert 1994 Brut Millésime
82 Louis Roederer 1994 Brut Vintage

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1993

On paper the ripeness and acidity levels achieved during this vintage are less favourable than those of 1992. Tasted blind two years apart Dom Pérignon edges out Louis Roederer Cristal by just one point. I’ll have to do a head-to-head at some time!

96 Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut 1993 Moët & Chandon
90 Vilmart & Cie 1993 Coeur de Cuvée, Brut Premier Crus
90 Pol Roger 1993 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut
89 Gosset 1993 Grand Millésime Brut
88 Laurent-Perrier 1993 Brut Vintage
88 Pol Roger 1993 Brut
87 Philipponnat 1993 Réserve Millésimée, Brut
87 de Venoge 1993 Grand Vin des Princes Brut
86 Gauthier 1993 Brut Millésime
85 R. Blin et Fils 1993 Brut Millésime
84 Jean Moutardier 1993 Brut Millésime

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1992

Theoretically the only vintage quality year between 1990 and 1995, and although it has provided some excellent Champagnes, 1993 has turned out to be superior.

89 Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut 1992 Moët & Chandon
88 Pommery 1992 Brut Grand Cru
88 Bollinger 1992 Grande Année, Brut
86 Mailly 1992 Deux Mille
85 Nicolas Feuillatte 1992 Cuvée Palmes d’Or, Brut (magnum)
84 Bricout 1992 Cuvée Millésime Brut
84 Nicolas Feuillatte 1992 Brut Millésimé, Premier Cru
84 Nicolas Feuillatte 1992 Cuvée Palmes d’Or, Brut

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1991

Although less houses declared this vintage and the ripeness-acidity levels were the less impressive than either 1992 or 1993, some producers evidently got it right. However, Vilmart Coeur de Cuvée in magnum stood head and shoulders above the rest two years ago and has jumped two percentile points in the meantime.

95 Vilmart & Cie 1991 Coeur de Cuvée, Brut (magnum)
87 Boizel 1991 Joyau de France, Brut
84 Philipponnat 1991 Réserve Spéciale Brut
84 Canard-Duchêne 1991 Brut
83 Alfred Gratien 1991 Brut

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1990

This is not only a true vintage, it is one of the 18 greatest Champagne vintages of the century. It is hard to believe for those who remember the 1976 Champagnes, but the grapes were riper in 1990 than they were in that drought year. What makes 1990 special, however, is that its grapes also possessed surprisingly high the acidity levels, with a much greater proportion of ripe tartaric to unripe malic than any other vintage on record. Sir Winston has been knocked off pole position by Krug (99 points), even though it will not be launched for a year or so and Clos des Goisses joins (from the previous two editions) Billecart-Salmon Grande Cuvée at 96 points.

99 Krug Vintage 1990 Brut
98 Pol Roger 1990 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Brut
96 Philipponnat 1990 Clos des Goisses, Brut
92 L. d’Harbonville 1990 Brut
91 Femme de Champagne 1990 Brut Millésime
90 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1990 Les Cuvées de l’An 2000, Brut (magnum)
88 Chanoine 1990 Millésime Brut
88 Henriot 1990 Brut Millésime
88 Boizel 1990 Cuvée Sous Bois, Brut
87 Duval-Leroy 1990 Cuvée des Roys
86 Bricout 1990 Brut Réserve
86 Delbeck 1990 Brut Vintage
85 Bruno Paillard 1990 N.P.U., Nec Plus Ultra, Brut

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1989

The middle year of the great trio of exceptional successive vintages, 1989 was marked by the Pinot Noir, which had a physiological problem, causing coloration in some of the cheaper, earlier-released Champagnes. Also, acidity was very low and pH high for such a hyped-up vintage (only 1999 has had worse readings in the last 20 years), consequently some Champagnes were too heavy and oxidative. Krug defied these vintage characteristics to produce an extraordinarily pale Champagne with acidity that is more reminiscent of 1988 than 1989. Very few truly great 1989s are commercially available.

96 Krug Vintage 1989 Brut
90 Pommery 1989 Louise, Brut
89 Noble Cuvée de Lanson 1989 Brut

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1988

Although this vintage comes second to the 1990 out of the trio of three successive great Champagne years, the best 1988s will probably last as long as the best 1990s. I have just one six-bottle case left of Pol Roger 1988 (was 91 points three editions ago, but closer to 95 now) and I’m not sure how long I can keep my hands off it!

97 Krug Vintage 1988 Brut
89 Jacquesson & Fils 1988 Grand Vin Signature
89 Henriot 1988 Cuvée des Enchanteleurs, Brut
88 Mailly Grand Cru 1988 Cuvée Les Echansons, Brut
85 Divine 1988 Brut

Vintage Brut Champagne: 1985 and older

As part of the ongoing Millennium celebrations, a number of houses have decided to release old vintages from their library collection (Dom Pérignon did so too late for inclusion in this year’s Guide). There is, however, huge variations in quality, which resulted in relatively few of these wines surviving my tasting. The champenois are, after all, French and it must be remembered that the French generally prefer their Champagnes young, thus it is not uncommon to find that the champenois are the last to understand the qualities that make a mature Champagne great. Often they think that because a Champagne is old a certain maderised or oxidised character is acceptable, but it’s not, of course. In addition to complexity and finesse, the greatest mature Champagnes are those that remain the freshest and youngest for the longest period of time. It’s that simple.

Only buy older vintages of Champagne that have come direct from the producer’s cellars into a winemerchant’s own cellars that you now to be good. Preferably buy direct from the producer on a visit. Only buy mature Champagne at auction if the provenance adheres to the above or you have tasted the an example from exactly the same lot.

98 Krug Collection 1981 Brut
98 Krug Collection 1979 Brut
98 Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut 1964 Moët & Chandon
97 Krug Collection 1953 Brut
95 Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut 1985 Moët & Chandon
92 Krug Collection 1982 Brut
91 Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut 1973 Moët & Chandon

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Champagne Blanc de Blancs, Non-vintage

Without doubt blanc de blancs are more expressive from a single vintage, but non-vintage cuvées can offer superb value and, contrary to popular belief, a great many are made.

89 Gaston Chiquet NV Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ, Brut Grand Cru
89 Billecart-Salmon NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Réserve
88 Eric Rodez NV Blanc de Blancs, Brut Grand Cru
88 Guy Larmandier NV Blanc de Blancs, Brut Grand Cru
88 R.&L. Legras NV Blanc de Blancs Brut
88 Brice NV Cramant Grand Cru Brut
87 Vazart-Coquart NV Brut Réserve
87 Henriot NV Blanc de Blancs Brut
87 Delamotte NV Blanc de Blancs Brut
87 Mumm de Cramant NV Chardonnay, Brut Grand Cru
86 Joseph Loriot-Pagel NV Brut Blanc de Blancs
86 Vollereaux NV Blanc de Blancs Brut
86 Drappier NV Cuvée Signature, Blanc de Blancs Brut
85 René James Lallier NV Blanc de Blancs, Brut
85 Henri Mandois NV Chardonnay, Brut Premier Cru
85 Agrapart & Fils NV Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
85 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils NV Blanc de Blancs Brut, Cuis 1er Cru
85 de Castellane NV Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs, Brut
85 Joseph Perrier NV Cuvée Royale, Blanc de Blancs Brut
85 Bruno Paillard NV Chardonnay Réserve Privée, Brut
85 Pommery NV Summertime, Blanc de Blancs Brut
84 Pierre Jamain NV Cuvée Caroline, Brut
84 Paul Goerg NV Blanc de Blancs, Brut Premier Cru
84 Waris-Larmandier NV Collection, Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
84 Boizel NV Chardonnay Brut Blanc de Blancs
83 Waris-Larmandier NV Tradition, Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
83 Jean Milan NV Brut Spécial, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru
83 Guy Charlemagne NV Réserve Brut, Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Blanc de Blancs: 1997

There are so few 1997s available at the time of writing that it is impossible to generalise about blanc de blancs from this vintage.

87 G. Fluteau 1997 Cuvée Prestige, Blanc de Blancs Brut
86 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1997 Gastronome, Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru

Blanc de Blancs: 1996

This is shaping up to being a great blanc de blanc vintage, even though the 1996s blended from both Chardonnay and Pinot are definitely superior.

93 Pol Roger 1996 Brut Chardonnay
90 R.C. Lemaire 1996 Chardonnay, Millésime Premier Cru Brut
90 Bonnaire 1996 Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc
88 André Robert Père & Fils 1996 Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru
88 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1996 Gastronome, Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru
88 Guy Charlemagne 1996 Mesnillésime, Brut Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs
88 Jacquart 1996 Blanc de Blancs, Brut Mosaïque
87 Pierre Jamain 1996 Brut Millésimé
87 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1996 Premier Cru-Chardonnay, Brut
87 Guy Larmandier, 1996 Blanc de Blancs Cuvée Prestige, Brut Grand Cru
86 Ployez-Jacquemart 1996 Brut Vintage, Blanc de Blancs
85 François Secondé 1996 Blanc de Blancs, Brut Millésime Grand Cru
85 Duval-Leroy 1996 Fleur de Champagne, Blanc de Chardonnay Brut
85 Ayala 1996 Brut Blanc de Blancs

Blanc de Blancs: 1995

The divide between the good and the very best is much more stark for blanc de blancs in 1995 than it is for classic blends.

95 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1995 Blanc de Blancs Brut
91 Amour de Deutz 1995 Blanc de Blancs, Brut
90 Pol Roger 1995 Brut Chardonnay
88 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1995 Fleuron, Blanc de Blancs Brut, 1er Cru
88 Duval-Leroy 1995 Fleur de Champagne, Blanc de Chardonnay Brut
87 Jacquesson & Fils 1995 Blanc de Blancs, Brut Grand Cru
85 A. Margaine 1995 Special Cuvée Club, Blanc de Blancs
85 Nicolas Feuillatte 1995 Blanc de Blancs Millésime, Brut Premier Cru
85 Deutz 1995 Blanc de Blancs, Brut
85 Louis Roederer 1995 Blanc de Blancs Brut
84 Th. Blondel 1995 Vieux Millésime, Chardonnay Brut Premier Cru
84 Pierre Moncuit 1995 Blanc de Blancs
83 Terres de Noël 2000 Brut Sélection 1995 Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs

Blanc de Blancs, 1994 and older

Deluxe cuvées and the best vintages obviously rule. Don’t forget Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1994 from the last edition (89 points) if you come across it.

97 Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988 Brut Blanc de Blancs Brut
95 Krug Clos du Mesnil 1988 Brut Blanc de Blancs Brut
93 Dom Ruinart 1990 Blanc de Blancs
92 Salon 1990 Blanc de Blancs Brut
90 Dom Ruinart 1993 Blanc de Blancs
89 Palmer 1991 Blanc de Blancs Brut
87 Blanc de Blancs de Lanson 1994 Brut

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Champagne Blanc de Noirs, Vintage & Non-vintage

The idea that a blanc de noirs is a big, rich, meaty Champagne came about because Bollinger set the yardstick with its Vielles Vignes Français. That, however, is made from overripe grapes grown on ungrafted vines, thus its size is an anomaly. Needless to say that it usually blasts all opposition for six, but having rocketed in price from a modest £130 to a mere £200 a bottle, it would be a crime if it didn’t. Some blanc de noirs can have such finesse that it is hard to imagine that they do not contain a substantial amount of Chardonnay. Serge Mathieu Blanc de Noirs from the Aube comes to mind. There is also the notion that these wines are pure Pinot Noir, whereas many blanc de noirs are blends of both Pinot Noir and Meunier. The following recommendations are all classic blanc de blancs in that they contain only black grapes and the aim has been to produce as colourless a wine as possible from these black-skinned grapes. They are not New World blanc de noirs, which often contain a small percentage of white grapes and vary in colour from copper-tinged to full rosé.

98 Bollinger 1992 Vieilles Vignes Françaises, Blanc de Noirs Brut
88 Mailly Grand Cru NV Blanc de Noirs, Brut
87 Michel Arnould & Fils NV Brut Grand Cru
87 André Clouet NV Grande Réserve Brut
86 Alexandre Bonnet NV Blanc de Noirs, Brut
85 Marie-Noelle Ledru NV Cuvée du Goulté, Brut Grand Cru
84 Pommery NV Wintertime, Blanc de Noirs Brut

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Champagne Rosé, Non-vintage

Almost every producer in Champagne has a non-vintage rosé in its range. The quality used to be extremely variable, but more producers are taking this style seriously.

90 François Secondé NV Brut Rosé, Grand Cru
89 Gosset NV Grand Rosé Brut
88 Pierre Jamain NV Brut Rosé
88 G. Tribaut NV Brut Rosé
88 Moët & Chandon NV Brut Rosé
88 Pommery NV Brut Rosé
87 Henri Mandois NV Brut Rosé, Premier Cru
87 Jacquart NV Brut Mosaïque Rosé
87 Bruno Paillard NV Rosé Brut Première Cuvée
87 Laurent-Perrier NV Cuvée Rosé Brut
86 Philipponnat NV Réserve Rosé Brut
86 Georges Gardet NV Brut Rosé
86 Pannier NV Cuvée Louis Eugène, Rosé Brut
86 Canard-Duchêne NV Charles VII Grande Cuvée, Rosé Brut
85 Bricout NV Cuvée Rosé, Brut
85 Tsarine NV Rosé Brut, Chanoine
85 René James Lallier NV Brut Rosé
85 Pannier NV Brut Rosé
85 de Castellane NV Croix Rouge Brut Rosé
85 Joseph Perrier NV Cuvée Royale Brut Rosé
85 Krug Rosé NV Brut
84 Alexandre Bonnet NV Brut Rosé
84 Jean Moutardier NV Rosé Brut
84 Th. Blondel NV Brut Rosé, Premier Cru
84 Paul Déthune NV Brut Rosé, Grand Cru
84 Louis de Sacy NV Brut Rosé, Grand Cru
84 Duval-Leroy NV Fleur de Champagne, Rosé de Saignée Brut
83 Pierre Mignon NV Brut Rosé
83 de Venoge NV Brut Rosé
83 Boizel NV Rosé Brut
82 Marguet-Bonnerave NV Rosé Grand Cru, Brut

Champagne Rosé: 1996

Most of the region’s winemakers claim that Champagne rosé should be consumed when it is young and fresh. If so, why make a vintage? Surely vintage infers a wine that should be aged? Those that do improve with age – often unintentionally – are rare, but if any vintage can produce such anomalies, it must be this one.

94 Pol Roger 1996 Brut Rosé
92 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1996 Rosé Brut
85 Alain Thienot 1996 Brut Rosé
85 Deutz 1996 Brut Rosé

Champagne Rosé: 1995

The best wines are slowly taking on a sublime fruitiness achieved by the top 1990 Champagne rosés.

93 Louis Roederer 1995 Cristal Brut Rosé
91 Pol Roger 1995 Brut Rosé
91 Bollinger 1995 Grande Année Rosé, Brut
90 Louis Roederer 1995 Vintage Rosé Brut
90 Billecart-Salmon 1995 Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon, Brut Rosé
90 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1995 Rosé Brut
89 Perrier-Jouët 1995 Belle Epoque Rosé Brut
86 Moët & Chandon 1995 Brut Impérial Rosé
85 Tarlant 1995 Rosé, Brut Prestige
85 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1995 Rosé Réserve, Brut
84 Beaumont des Crayères 1995 Fleur de Rosé, Brut

Champagne Rosé: 1993 and older

Who would believe that a 10 year old and 20 year old rosé would be topping the charts with an awesome score of 96 points? Certainly not a number of chefs de caves in the region who still cannot take this style seriously. Well, I challenge them to call at ‘the most famous address in France’ (as Winston Churchill used to say) and try the wines for themselves.

96 Pol Roger 1990 Brut Rosé
96 Pol Roger 1982 Brut Rosé
92 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 1990 La Grande Dame Rosé, Brut
92 Pol Roger 1988 Brut Rosé
91 Cuvée Dom Pérignon Rosé Brut 1990 Moët & Chandon
91 Pommery 1992 Louise Rosé, Brut
89 Grand Siècle 1990 Alexandre Rosé, Brut
90 Dom Ruinart 1988 Rosé
87 Pol Roger 1993 Brut Rosé

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