Top 10 Champagne Brands
They say that taste is subjective, but is this true in a world where quality is everything? One’s enjoyment of something may well be yours and yours alone, but excellence is objective. In the world of beverages, it is this clarification that sets champagne aside from its less-distinguished colleagues in the fridges and in the cellars. How can one be expected to wade into these difficult waters with confidence and conviction? Let us guide you through the waves and into a world of elegance, grace, bliss and bubbles. These are the absolute best champagne brands to look out for.
Look up ‘Pol Roger Champagne’ in the thesaurus and you’ll come across words like ‘class’, ‘luxury’, ‘elite’ and ‘premier’. This is the best of the best in the champagne world, an intoxicating mix of history, grapes and bubbles that Sir Winston Churchill himself swore by. Pol Roger responded in kind, cultivating the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill in the honour of the brand’s biggest fan. That creation isn’t the cheapest on the market but there are plenty of more affordable options, a variety of bubblies that won’t break the bank. Keep an eye out for the Blanc de Blancs, a sleek and sensuous chardonnay that the Pol Roger family was apprehensive to commit to but perfected nonetheless. Arguably the most consistent champagne house in Épernay, Pol Roger champagne is champagne for the top table.
If you’re naming your vintage cuvée after the Benedictine Monk who did more than most to develop the champagne world in a time when red wine was everything, you need no small amount of confidence in your bubbly. Moët & Chandon has plenty of it and then some, a prominent name in the champagne world since it was founded by Claude Moët back in 1743. Moët & Chandon is also the official champagne provider for Formula One, which tells its own story. Dom Pérignon must be smiling up in heaven. The cuvée is the pinnacle, but there are other less expensive vintages available.
You can’t beat a bottle of Bolly! The juxtaposition of opulent champagne and the British obsession with slang will never grow old. Bollinger’s official champagne house (originally Renaudin Bollinger) may have been founded in 1829 but the family have champagne-producing roots going back to the 15th century, and you can’t beat experience. Price? Anywhere between €25 and €300.
The third best selling champagne brand on the planet, Laurent-Perrier is a wine with a story. Established in 1812, the brand was well on its way to becoming one of the biggest in the world when World War I intervened, a theme that continued with the devastation of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust. Laurent-Perrier sits on the more affordable end of the champagne scale, with bottles available between €30 and €75.
Sitting between Laurent-Perrier and Moët & Chandon in second place is Veuve Clicquot, a near 250 year old champagne house famous for creating the very first vintage champagne, way back in 1820. Madame Clicquot was something of a champagne trailblazer, inventing techniques to improve the beverage as well as devising the very first blended rosé champagne. She also ensured that the distinctive yellow label found its way into the royal houses of Europe, a trend that continues today. The famous rosé is at the top end of the price scale, but other vintages are available for double figure prices.
The production of champagne might be a world dominated by traditional French names and gallic flair, but it is no great surprise to find a little bit of Germanic aptitude in amongst it all. G.H. Mumm was established by a trio of German winemaking brothers from the Rhine, the family had all of its property confiscated in the bitter fallout from World War I, but the name lives on today. The G.H. Mumm brand is known for its marketing creativity, famously employing Usain Bolt as its CEO (Chief Entertainment Officer) back in 2016.
It might not have the name recognition and industrial might of more prestigious monikers, but the medium-sized organisation that is Billecart-Salmon more than holds its own in the taste and price stakes. Billecart-Salmon is a family-owned champagne house where quality trumps quantity, and the prices remain reassuringly low. The Billecart-Salmon rosé, blanc de blancs and brut réserve all chime in under the €70 mark, which is a glorified steal for bubbly this refreshing.
If we’re talking about experience in the wine-making game, it doesn’t get any more impressive than that of the Cattier family. These people have been producing the good stuff since the middle of the 17th century, 13 generations of wine-making expertise that is apparent in every drop of its production. The Cattier cellars are celebrated as the deepest in the game. Price? Well, a bottle of the Cattier Brut Antique Blanc de Blancs Premier Cru will set you back around €55.
The oldest established champagne house in the game, Ruinart has been producing bubbly since way back in 1729, sending out its first bottle of ‘wine with bubbles’ a year later. Ruinart has been about creativity from the beginning, fulfilling the artistic desires of those at the helm and sparing no expense in bringing in outside help along the way, best exemplified by the work of celebrated Czech artist Alphonse Mucha back in 1895. Ruinart’s famous cellars evolved from old chalk pits, keeping a constant temperature and guaranteeing some of the best bubbly going. Price? Well, anywhere between €50 and €200 for a bottle of this famous beverage.
Once the official wine supplier to the Imperial Courts of Russia, Louis Roederer was one of the first champagne makers to focus its efforts on the international market, a ploy that had its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. The proof is in the pudding, which in this case is deliciously opulent bubbly, with its Louis Roederer Brut Premier consistently celebrated as one of the best affordable drinks going. If you’re looking for a fantastic champagne under €50, Louis Roederer Brut Premier is the end of your quest.