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Choosing a brand

Choosing a brand of Champagne can be difficult. Setting aside all higher considerations, what matters is finding a taste that appeals to you - your palate, your sensibilities, your idea of the pleasure you expect from Champagne. No-one can tell what you like but here are a few points about Grande Marque Champagne that may help you make your choice.

Champagnes plural?

There are indeed many types of Champagne, varying according to the origin of the grapes that go into the cuvee. The crus (villages) that make up the Champagne production zone or AOC area each have their own specific characteristics.

-  The Côte des Blancs takes its name from the Chardonnay variety of white grape. Known for its finesse, the Chardonnay adds floral and sometimes mineral aromatics to Champagne. It brings crispness and lightness, making for a pleasing attack and a well-rounded fullness that persists right through to the finish.

-  The Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Bar are planted to the Pinot Noir: dark-skinned grapes with white juice and characteristic aromas of red fruit. The Pinot Noir contributes body and strength to the blend and adds persistence to the finish.

-  The Vallée de la Marne is predominantly planted to the Pinot Meunier: dark-skinned grapes with white juice and an innate softness and fruitiness that fleshes out a Champagne .

According to ancient tradition, the harvest is the moment when each Champagne House selects the particular grape varieties and base wines from different vineyards that will go to make that year’s bottlings. Each grape variety is then fermented separately according to strict rules.

It is this painstaking selection process that defines the particular flavour profile of a brand. It is what ensures that the taste and quality of your favourite Champagne will remain consistent every year— always the result of this subtle blending of grape varieties and different base wines that lies at the heart of Champagne winemaking.

Every Champagne House is distinguished by the quality of its grape supply and the teamwork behind its wines. From growers to cellar workers, office staff and sales people, everyone works together to safeguard the House’s expertise and reinforce its image at home and abroad.
To know more: 10 major trades in Champagne

Blending: the key element in making Champagne

Every spring the wines from different grape varieties and different growths (crus) are tasted to assess their potential contribution to the blend. Just as an orchestra conductor plays with high notes and low notes, pauses and repeats to create a sense of harmony and balance, so the Cellar Master plays with wines from different grape varieties and growths (years too in the case of non-vintage Champagne) to replicate the signature taste of the brand. Year after year, the Cellar Master is the "keeper" of that taste in the real sense of the word.

As a result, every Champagne House has its own authentic style, which is faithfully reproduced in its bottlings regardless of the year in which they were made. So when you do find a brand that matches your taste, you can be sure that it will deliver its promise year after year. It will always fulfill your trust, providing a renewed pleasure with every bottle. You can remain a loyal customer knowing that your enjoyment is guaranteed — a rare privilege indeed!

Another factor to consider when selecting a Champagne is the reputation of the brand in question. Many Champagne Houses are world-renowned for their scrupulous compliance with the rules governing the traditional method of making Champagne. These are brands with a consistent brand promise, known for an unchanging taste profile that has stood the test of time and attracted a loyal following far and wide. Add to that a global system of distribution and carefully maintained stocks, and you have everything you need to meet demand from consumers across the planet.

Some will favour Mozart and some will prefer Beethoven. Some will wax lyrical on the subject of Matisse and some will adore Kandinsky. Everyone has their own personal tastes and preferences. To each their own Champagne... Focus on what gives you pleasure, never mind what anyone else says, and before you know it you will be choosing Champagne like an expert. You will find then that there is a bottle to satisfy every taste, every occasion and every desire.

Learn how to taste to determine what you like. And don’t overdo a good thing: always prefer quality over quantity.
Illustration de 1920

"The heavy bottle appears in all its wire-hooded finery, tangible evidence of its long pedigree.
Crowned with a metal helmet, label and neck-band to the fore, it stands in luxury shop windows like a solider on parade, ever ready to pop its cork and make the party go with a bang"

You often hear it said that there is a Champagne bottle to suit every taste ...
What is sure is that bubbly is by no means confined to the classically-shaped 75cl Champagne bottle. This does however provide the model for the eight other sizes that are currently approved for sale within the European Union:

• Quarter: 20 cl (or 18.7cl on board ships)
• Half bottle: 37.5cl
• Standard bottle: 75 cl
• Magnum: 1.5 litres/two bottles
• Jeroboam: 3 litres/four bottles [1]
• Rehoboam : 4.5 litres/six bottles [2]
• Methuselah: 6 litres/eight bottles [3]
• Salmanasar: 9 litres/12 bottles [4]

Very large sizes made only to order [5]
-  Balthasar
-  Nebuchadnezzar
-  Solomon: 18 litres/24 bottles
-  Melchizedec : 30 litres/40 bottles
(custom-made bottles are also available, each individually named after the customer)


[1Jeroboam was the first king of Israel (930-910 BC). Following Solomon’s death, Jeroboam had himself proclaimed king by the 10 northern tribes who rebelled against King Rehoboam. At a time of political division among the Jews, Jeroboam added religious division by forcing Israel to commit to the worship of the golden calves at Dan and Bethel.

[2Rehoboam (c930-915 BC), son of Solomon, was a King of Judah whose tyrannical rule led the 10 northern tribes to rebel and found the Kingdom of Israel. He himself retained only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.

[3According to the Bible, the Jewish patriarch Methuselah lived for 720 or 969 years depending on the source .

[4Salmanazar was the name given to five Assyrian kings, the most important being Salmanazar III.

[5In exceptional cases, Champagne may be bottled and aged in bottles that do not have EU approval. These and other much larger bottles are produced and packaged on a one-off basis by glass-makers to celebrate an exclusive event, such as the christening of HMS Sovereign of the Seas.