A guide to finding the best Champagne

Champagne is the ultimate occasion wine. Find a luxury Champagne and its fabulous flavours will light up your taste buds, giving you and your guests an unforgettable night. To find a superior Champagne, you need to know what makes one.

Quality grapes

According to industry rules, Champagnes can only be made grapes which are grown in vineyards located within the Champagne region of France. The most commonly used grapes in Champagne are Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

The quality of these grapes, along with how much of their juice is used and the age of the vine, serves as the bedrock upon which great Champagnes are based.

Assessing terroir

Terroir is crucial in wine-making. The land and climate where grapes are grown have a massive impact on how their wine tastes and of course, this applies to Champagne. Champagne grapes are, as a rule of thumb, grown in chalky earth, with many saying that this is what makes the product so luxurious.

When assessing Champagne terroir, look at the lay of the vineyard’s land e.g. how exposed were the grapes to sunlight, to determine whether the grapes were grown in favourable conditions.

Looking a viticulture

Another factor we need to look at when determining what makes a good Champagne is viticulture – how do producers look after their vines? Effective vine management produces superior grapes, which serve as the basis of great Champagnes.

Many Champagnes are so luxurious because growers invest in vine management measures, such as pruning and defoliating. In particular, you may want to determine whether the grower uses modern day techniques or looks after their vines via hand.

Production process

One of the key differentiators between Champagne and Prosecco is that the former’s secondary fermentation process takes place inside the bottle, while the latter’s happens in a steel tank. This, along with the wider Champagne making process, is governed by industry body, the CIVC, guaranteeing high production levels across Champagnes.

But producers use various pressing, fermentation and mixing methods, meaning that there is some differentiation in how Champagnes taste, with some being held in higher regard than others.

Storing and aging

Industry portal Glass of Bubbly explains that the age of a Champagne can effects its overall quality, with older products being held in higher esteem. All Champagnes must be aged for at least 18 months, though some producers will age their drinks for as long as five years or more.

You should also note that storage is another determiner of quality. Some products are stored in old oak barrels, while others are stored in new oak barrels, with the wood producing variations in Champagne styles and tastes.

Brand reputations

In other words, there are a number of factor that combine to make a good Champagne. We should note that over the years, certain brands, such as Dom Perignon, Cristal and Bollinger, have become famous for the quality of their products, meaning that brand reputation can also help you choose a great Champagne.

We feature many reputable brands on Ideal Wine Company’s Champagne list, so when buying wine online with us, you can be sure that you’ll receive products of the highest quality.