Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Debate a Bubble - Champagne Brands - Which Is The Most Glamorous Of Them All?

Debate a Bubble - Champagne Brands - Which Is The Most Glamorous Of Them All?

Link to Debate a Bubble - Champagne News and Reviews

Champagne Brands - Which Is The Most Glamorous Of Them All?

Posted: 26 Apr 2010 08:11 AM PDT

Ask 100 champagne drinkers this question and you're bound to get as many different answers, but you can bet that a handful of familiar names will crop up more than the others: Dom Pérignon, Cristal, Krug, La Grande Dame are likely to be mentioned a lot. DP Bottle

But how would it be if none of these were the most glamourous champagne brand and how on earth do you choose one anyway?

In one sense it's impossible because it's a very personal thing but if there were a way of choosing just one brand, what would be the  deciding factor that no one could argue about?

Well it couldn't be the price because that  varies from one bar and wineshop to another and it couldn't be the taste because we all have different likes and dislikes.  No, what we're looking for is something  indisputable that no one can  argue about.

One way of deciding might be to see which the oldest champagne house is. After all we usually associate great age and a rich history with things that are the best of the best, so perhaps we should look into this? Besides, it will give you a new insight into the whole business of champagne brands.

In most countries and most industries it's rare to find companies that were  founded over 200 years ago and are still going strong, but in Champagne there's a positive avalanche of them – well, alright, a handful then, but that's still impressive.

Here are a few of them - the names may not all be familiar to you...

Borne Ruinart The oldest champagne house of all is Ruinart - La Plus Ancienne Maison de Champagne – it was created back in 1729.

 Ruinart also has some of the most spectacular cellars too. They date back to Roman times and in fact Ruinart's cellars are the only ones that are classifed as a national treasure. Right now the cellars are closed for restoration, but when you next find yourself in Reims a visit to Ruinart is a must

Gosset  is also a very venerable, old company dating back to 1584. Wait a minute.... doesn't that make it older than Ruinart?

Well yes, but the thing is that Gosset started out as a wine merchant and even though we know they sold still wine, there are no written records to  prove that Gosset sold champagne all that time ago.

So Gosset is always very careful to describe itself as the Oldest Wine House in the Champagne Region ' La plus Ancienne Maison de Vins de la Champagne'

Incidentally when speaking of champagne in French, Le champagne means the wine made in that region; La Champagne means the region itself.

The  biggest champagne house of them all is Moët & Chandon.

La Grande Maison, as it is sometimes called, was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët (pronouncd with the T sounded, like MO ETTE).

There are no records to show that Monsieur Moët was a champagne maker before 1743 but by that time he was already in his forties so who knows?  He may well have started his company a few years earlier.

Another fine house with its origins going back to the 18th century is Louis Roederer founded in 1776 a date which every American will know by heart

 It's Roederer that makes Cristal which was originally  made for Tsar Alexander II of Russia back in 1876 , mind you, back then it was a sweet champage, not much like the Cristal produced today.

Relative new-comers by champagne standards, but still names with a proud  ancestry are

Lanson                Founded in        1760
Veuve Clicqout Ponsardin              1772
Piper Heidsieck                            1785
Perrier Jouët                                1811
Laurent Perrier                            1812
Billecart Salmon                            1818

In some special way it adds an extra touch of magic to know that there's more than a little bit of history in every sip of champagne you enjoy.

But if age is the main source of prestige what about some of the smaller champagne brands?

Henri giraud

Many of the the less well-known families that still make outstanding champagne today have been  around in the Champagne region for centuries too.

Champagne Henri Giraud's family can trace its roots back to 1625 when François Hémart settled in the village of Aÿ. The Girauds later married into the Hémart family to form today's champagne house. 

Another champagne brand you may not have heard of is Chanoine. Today it is part of a very large group of champagne producers, but it was founded in 1730 which makes it the second oldest of the lot.

Meanwhile another, Louis de Sacy, boasts that its family was established as vine growers in the village of Verzy as long ago as 1633

Louis de Sacy

There's no getting away from the fact that when it comes to pedigree some of the smaller houses have an equally proud history as the giant champagne brands and are well worth getting to know when you have the opportunity

It just goes to show that there are other things worth taking into account when it comes to champagne apart from just the price and the advertising.

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