Which are the best champagnes in the world?
French Champagnes! Two words that express a meaningful desire with sensations of luxury, glamour, elegance and celebration. Although this expression is redundant, because all champagnes are French, it does provide a distinction since not all sparkling wines are champagne. And this subtle but important difference brings status and class because it marks the very special personality of the terroir that is home to champagne, the most famous, imitated and sought-after sparkling wine on the planet.
Lily Bollinger used to say, “I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. When I have company, it’s a must. I eat it when I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am. I don’t drink it at any other time, unless I'm thirsty.”
There is no better way to express that a glass of champagne is perfect for any situation or time of year, but it is during times of celebration that it really comes into its own.
Now that we are approaching the best time to open bottles of champagne, Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we want to talk about 10 champagnes that may or may not be the best in the world, because “De gustibus non est disputandum”, that is, in matters of taste there can be no dispute, but these are ten of the most famous and admired Maisons de Champagne in the world who make champagnes that are the most loved and sought-after by those who adore bubbles, and there must be good reason for that.
There must be a reason Möet Chandon is the most famous champagne brand in the world. This maison is one of the largest in the Champagne region and has the most extensive vineyard. Purists might say Möet Chandon Brut Imperial is not one of the best champagnes but what is clear is that it is the most popular champagne on the market for a reason. This popularity is not for nothing. This winery has over 150 years of experience behind it. What we do know is that Möet Chandon Brut Imperial is the perfect sparkling wine to introduce you to the wonderful world of champagne.
Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot inherited her husband’s wine business and, at the age of 27, started the great empire that Veuve Clicquot became. Widow Clicquot was so successful that she is known as “the grand dame of champagne”. In fact, Veuve Clicquot has a champagne with this name (La Grande Dame) as a tribute to Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin Clicquot, but today we are recommending you try the winery’s flagship champagne, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label, which is made from a blend of wines from the winery’s best plots and is fruity, balanced, intense and precise.
Another great women of the champagne world was Elizabeth Law de Lauriston-Boubers, better known as Lily Bollinger who, in 1941, when her husband Jacques Bollinger died, had to take over his business in Aÿ, Champagne. She was 42 years old and a lovely woman. Her determination led Bollinger to become the great Champagne house it is today.
This house is the producer of great Champagnes, it is even the favourite brand of the world’s most famous spy, James Bond. To get started, we recommend you try Bollinger Brut Special Cuvée, which will give you first-hand experience of the elegance, delicacy and power that have made Bollinger one of the favourite houses among Champagne lovers.
This is the perfect example of a maison that has quietly earned a place of honour at the tables of the best restaurants in the world. Billecart-Salmon has vineyards from the Côte des Blancs to the Montagne de Reims that create champagnes characterised by their creaminess, elegance, complexity and longevity. Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve is a subtle, ethereal champagne, full of harmony and balance. It is made with the traditional Champagne blend: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from three vintages from the best Marne vineyards.
Who hasn’t heard of Dom Pérignon! He is the famous monk who is considered the father of Champagne. This maison follows the legacy and creative inspiration of Dom Pérignon and creates champagnes that are made from the best grapes of one year. These are works of art capable of conveying the essence and character of a landscape and a specific year. When one year’s vintage does not live up to these standards of perfection and elegance, they don’t make their champagne. Exclusivity and a guarantee of excellence. A privilege only available to a few.
Joseph Krug established the Maison Krug in Reims in 1843 with the aim of producing the best champagne he could. There are now six generations who have carried the founder’s dream as well as going further in creating champagnes. They seek maximum complexity and generous expression without being limited to the characteristics of a particular year. Krug Grande Cuvée Edition 169th is made from a blend of more than 100 wines from 10 vintages. An extraordinary, complete mosaic with all the complexity and elegance of a blend of this magnitude. In short, Krug Grande Cuvée Edition 169th is a wonderful example of the purest expression of Champagne.
Evidence suggests that the first Maison de Champagne was founded by Nicolas Ruinart in 1729 thanks to the influence of his uncle, Dom Thierry Ruinart, a visionary Benedictine monk who, although not as well known as Dom Pérignon, may have been the first to discover the qualities of the world’s most famous bubbles. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut is made with Chardonnay grapes, which are the spirit of this Maison, and which come from the best vineyards of Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. This is undoubtedly a champagne that gives us chance to enjoy the elegance and refinement of the Chardonnay variety in its purest form.
Instead of buying grapes as other entrepreneurs did, Louis Roederer decided to expand his vineyard in 1833 and carry out every stage of the winemaking process with the aim of “creating a champagne with a solar soul and crystalline elegance”. This is how Louis Roederer became one of the last great Maisons de Champagne. Louis Roederer Cristal is the house’s most famous champagne and with good reason: its history sounds like something from a spy movie. It was created in 1876 at the request of Tsar Alexander II who asked the Maison to reserve the best cuvée for him. It was an unstable time in Russia and the Tsar, fearing his own assassination, ordered all the bottles to be transparent to make sure no one could hide anything in there, masked by the classic green colour of the bottles.
That is how Louis Roederer Cristal came to be, which has been sold in an elegant, transparent, flat-bottomed bottle ever since. This champagne is considered the first luxury champagne and was not available to the public until 1945.
Founded in 1584, Gosset is the oldest wine (not champagne) producer in the Champagne region. The winegrower Pierre Gosset, its founder, was a councillor of Aÿ and made mainly red wines with Pinot Noir, although he also produced white wines with the Chardonnay variety (vins d'Aÿ). In the 18th century, “wine with bubbles” became popular and Gosset began to produce champagnes.
More than 400 years of experience growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and an ever deepening knowledge of the extraordinary vineyards of Aÿ explain why Gosset is one of the favourite brands among sparkling wine lovers. Gosset Grande Réserve offers an array of pleasant sensations wrapped in subtlety and elegance. This champagne is a real luxury that meets the expectations of the most demanding palates.
Although not one of the oldest wineries, Jacques Sélosse is considered one of the top five champagne producers. It was founded in the 1950s by Jacques Sélosse, a winegrower from the Avize region. His son, Anselme Sélosse, joined the maison in the 1980s and has become a leading figure in French viticulture. Anselme was one of the first winemakers to apply the Burgundy-style vinification method to the production of champagne. He has been named “Best French Winemaker” and is a leading figure in French viticulture. Jacques Sélosse Rosé Brut is a cult rosé champagne. It is made with the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties grown according to the principles of organic and biodynamic agriculture and offers a perfect and elegant balance between the two varieties it is made with. Undoubtedly a champagne to keep for special occasions.
As you can see, there are many options if you are looking for a good French champagne. Besides, there are always plenty of reasons to open a bottle: to celebrate the end of the year, for big occasions and to celebrate the little everyday achievements. We hope this selection is a good start in helping you to choose the best champagnes for you.