Most Admired Champagne Brands 2017: 16-30


When you are trying to assess the quality of a major brand, the wine you need to examine most closely is the non-vintage Brut style. This is the wine that consumers are by far the most likely to come across, as it typically represents well over 80% of any house’s production. And it’s the cuvée the chef de caves labour over most intensely, as they try to maintain both the style of the house and reproduce a wine that has the same taste profile year after year, whatever the harvest gives them.

In early 2002 I visited Laurent-Perrier when Alain Terrier was still the chef de cave, as he wrestled with the pretty ordinary material the 2001 harvest gave him to blend the LP non-vintage with. In a fascinating tasting of vins clairs (still wines from the 2001 harvest) and reserve wines going back to 1996, he showed me a selection of the building blocks he was going to use.

He explained that Chardonnay was the key to the blend, making up 45%-50% of it, probably slightly more in a difficult vintage such as 2001.

“It brings pureness, vivacity and elegance to the blend” – still key elements for the Laurent-Perrier style as current winemaker Michel Fauconnet, who worked with Terrier for nearly two decades before he took over, will concur.