Champagne Reviews

Which sparkle do you choose?

Blanc de Blanc

Literal translation of the term 'Blanc de Blanc' leads to the English phrase 'white from whites' and in case of champagne, it refers to a beverage that has been produced from Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc varieties of grapes. If you find the term 'Blanc de Blanc' mentioned on a label of a bottle of champagne, something that you will also find mentioned is the variety of grape from which it has been produced. Usually, the purpose is to create a distinction between champagne produced from Chardonnay or other varieties of white grapes owing to the difference in quality.

Popular 'Blanc de Blanc' champagnes that are an outcome of Chardonnay are Dom Ruinart, Le Mesnil and Clos de Mesnil. 'Blanc de Blanc' varieties that have been produced from grapes other than Chardonnay but have been successful in garnering the world's attention are Quattuor, which is an outcome of four varieties of white grapes, 'Authentis Petit Meslier' which is produced from Petit Meslier and Cepage Arbane which is an outcome of using only the rare Arbane grape variety. 

When younger, 'Blanc de Blanc' is restrained yet elegant and on maturing and ageing, it acquires a richness that easily overides the hint of fruity flavor.     

Blanc de Noir

A counterpart of 'Blanc de Blanc' variety, 'Blanc de Noir' is once again a French terms that after being translated reads as 'white wine from black/red grapes'. What renders this variety of champagne truly special is the fact that producing white wine, albiet sparkling, from a red variety of grape is not just a difficult task but one which requires expert and delicate craftsmanship.   

While it is difficult to pinpoint when 'Blanc de Noir' came into being, it surfaced in USA for the first time in 1967 courtesy of the efforts of Schramsberg. Even today, the technique of extracting a white sparkling wine from black/red grape variety remains the same, namely removal of grape-skin subsequent to the pressing of grapes and thus preventing the juice from acquiring a dark color. That said, Blanc de Noir champagne is seldom a clear white - it is usually a shade of pink ranging between pale and apricot to salmon. 

Production of Blanc de Noir requires plenty of discipline and adherence to best practices like hand-picking of grapes, scheduling the harvesting for early morning, ensuring the stage of maturation for the fruit and pressing it in a manner that causes minimal tannin to be released. This juice is then fermented in barrels wherein its flavor is balanced and left to mature for at least two years wherein it acquires a full bodied richness. 

As a young wine, Blanc de Noir provides a delicate caramelized taste but as it matures this flavor softens and remains delectable for many decades.