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Champagne has launched thousands of ships, toasted billions of weddings and special occasions, flutes attended countless parties, and shared untold special moments between two people. Champagne is the wine of celebration. No other wine is so associated with joy and festivity. Its meaning and appeal are universal. Champagne makes the young sages and the old young again.

Premium French Champagne

Billecart Salmon Brut Champagne

Appareance This yellow vintage with the marked reflections straw, is characterized by the smoothness from its bubbles with slow increase and by its persistent foam. Aroma Tinted maturity of freshness flowered for this vintage which exhales ripe pear flavours moderate of marked notes of cut hay. Taste A vintage which allures...


Billecart Salmon Brut Rose Champagne

Appareance Of beautiful a pale pink to the hot and gilded reflections, this vintage lets admire its delicate bubbles with slow increase and its persistent foam. Aroma A pleasant and discrete flavour impregnated of delicate red fruit notes. Taste Its particular method of wine making confers on this vintage an attack...


Bollinger Brut Champagne RD 1997

Mature and nutty in character, this 1988 exhibits a firm texture and an elegant stature, a fine backdrop for the roast coffee, hazelnut and citrus flavors. Dry style. Drink now through 2003. 10,000 cases imported. –BS - Rated 92, Wine Spectator


Bollinger Grande Annee Brut Champagne 1.5L 1999

Established in 1829 in Ay, the heart of the Champagne area, the House of Bollinger, rooted in the terroir, owns 144 hectares of vineyards located primarily in the Premiers and Grands Crus villages of Champagne. These vineyards supply 70% of Bollinger's grape requirements and therefore ensure continuity and consistency of the...


Bollinger Grande Annee Brut Champagne 1999

Brilliant. Very distinctive aromas of coconut and vanilla, with oxidation adding complexity, followed by fresh citrus, oatmeal and honey notes. It's all displayed on a firm, powerful structure that needs time to integrate all the elements. Classy finish. A statement. Drink now through 2010. 1,400 cases imported. –BS - Rated 95 Wine Spectator


Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne

Starts out lean and focused, displaying citrus, mineral and yeast nuances. It expands on the palate, showing depth and length, with an aftertaste of hazelnut. Rated 90 Wine Spectator


Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut Champagne 1.5L

The denomination Special Cuvée was created in 1911. The idea came from William Folks, then partner of the illustrious London House of Mentzendorff. This great wine lover felt it was an insult to simply call this great wine non vintage . The suggestion of naming it Special Cuvée was immediately approved by Monsieur...


Deutz Blanc de Blanc Champagne 2004

-The colour is fine and bright, showing a pale golden hue with bronze tinges.
-A forward nose that shows deliciously ripe aromas. Hints of flowers mingle with main aromas of fresh pastry.
-The first impression is clear-cut, and the wine continues, fresh and lively, in an elegant mode.


Deutz Champagne Cuvee William

With its deliciously rich and savoury finish, the Cuvee William Deutz gives one the impression of a wine that has opened up fairly rapidly, showing a full range of secondary aromas that are usually found in Champagnes that have been aged for a longer period. Colour: A crystal-clear, pale gold hue.


Deutz Classic Brut Champagne

One of the oldest members of Champagne's prestigious association of Grandes Marques houses, Champagne Deutz has been making distinctive Champagnes characterized by finesse, elegant vinosity and complexity since 1838. Owning a considerable portion of its own vineyards, Deutz selects only the top quality grapes from 275 acres of vineyards


Dom Perignon Brut Champagne 2000

This product does NOT include a gift box

As legend has it, the Benedictine Monk, Dom Periginon invented Champagne. That is not the whole story. A few facts first. Champagne is 3 different things; First, it is a sparkling wine made in France.


Drappier Extra Dry Champange

Drappier is a well respected champagne house with celebrity drinkers like Luciano Pavarotti. Made exclusively from first pressings using a technique which allows minimal sulphur (three times lower than average) making it a very natural product. Colour - brilliant with copper reflects. Bouqet - intense and fresh notes of red fruits...


Duval Leroy Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne

Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs, from five Grand Cru villages. A very fresh style, with some honeycomb notes on the nose. Lovely palate, showing freshness combined with body. Good firm mousse. Great persistence.


Duval Leroy Brut Champagne Cuvee Paris

A brut non-vintage blend, although different to that marketed as Fleur de Champagne; this has 40% C and 60% PN, again sourced from the main Champagne regions. Fancy bottle - clearly an 'upmarket' position. Fresh nose, with notes of iodine. Full, plenty of unusual salty iodine notes here too. Subtle flavour...


Duval Leroy Brut Champange

A very pale, creamy-lemon wine, with a nose of apples and even a hint of pineapple, and later on some bready notes. Strong acidity on the palate, with some fairly simple fruit flavours and a coarse mousse.


Duval Leroy Brut Champange 1er Cru

Very open and evocative nose, full of smoky, floral fruit. Still showing a little sulphur although this is not a problem here. A creamy mousse, very attractive, quite rounded overall, a touch nutty. Bright and fresh, a good style, which will come together quite nicely with a little time.


Duval Leroy Brut Rose Champagne

A remarkable pale wine here, barely pink at all. The nose has a soft, unappetising canned strawberry quality, with a sweet edge. This continues onto the palate, with a certain confected edge, and a tin can nervousness on he finish.


Gosset Brut Grand Rose Champagne

A rose champagne for the serious champagne lover. The color is salmon pink, tending toward cherry. A generous assertive bouquet redolent of small red fruit, with just a hint of spiciness, progresses into a dry, elegant flavor that is fresh and lively, delicate and yet intense. A rose champagne with immense...


Gosset Champagne Brut Excellence

Aromas of pear and honeysuckle perfume the bouquet. This is a beautifully balanced champagne with a long, expressive finish. Production Technique: Gosset only uses juice from the first and best pressing of grapes, and unlike most other producers, initial fermentation is still carried out in small oak barrels. Riddling and disgorgement...


Gosset Champagne Brut Excellence 3L

Aromas of pear and honeysuckle perfume the bouquet. This is a beautifully balanced champagne with a long, expressive finish. Production Technique: Gosset only uses juice from the first and best pressing of grapes, and unlike most other producers, initial fermentation is still carried out in small oak barrels. Riddling and disgorgement...


Henriot Brut Champagne Souverain

An unusual proportion of Chardonnay gives this cuvée an original and very racy profile. A Champagne full of elegance, lightness and finesse, just as pleasant as an aperitif as throughout an entire meal.


Henriot Brut Rose Champagne

Obtaining a very delicate rosé and preserving all the elegant lightness that is Champagne’s top characteristic is a difficult and fascinating exercise. This cuvée charms with its lovely balance in an aromatic range of red fruit, whose persistence is remarkable.


Henriot Brut Rose Champagne 2002

Obtaining a very delicate rosé and preserving all the elegant lightness that is Champagne’s top characteristic is a difficult and fascinating exercise. This cuvée charms with its lovely balance in an aromatic range of red fruit, whose persistence is remarkable.


J Lassalle Brut Champagne

Intensely flavored, with definitely yeasty aromas turning to gingerbread, cinnamon and ripe apples on the palate. Shows fine depth and vibrant structure, with liveliness to drive the flavors and keep it fresh. Rated 90 Wine Spectator


Jean Milan Brut Champagne Blanc de Blanc

A Blanc de Blanc at this price and rated 92 Points The new cuvee is 1998 and 1997 with less dosage that any previous Carte Blanche at 10 grams per liter of residual sugar. Subsequent disgorgements increased the dosage. Fine spriggy nose; utterly wonderful fruit, clarity, minerality: lavendar honey notes.


Joseph Perrier Cuvee Josephine 99

Rich and gingery, with toasty vanilla, cherry and lemony flavors that are intense, complex, lively and enticing. Packed with flavor and full of finesse, this is a wonderful 1989 that goes well beyond the average.


Krug Grand Cuvee Brut Champagne 375ml

Full-bodied . Highly extracted. Honeyed, spicy aromas lead a full-flavored mouthful, with nutty richness pervading the palate. A 95 Rating The flagship of the house, Grande Cuvée is imposing in character from the first moment in the glass. The birth of Krug Grande Cuvée, through its first fermentation exclusively in small batches.


Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne

Lush and creamy, this round Champagne will please many with its dough, honey and apple notes. Firms up on the finish. Drink now. Rated 88 Wine Spectator


Lush and creamy, this round Champagne will please many with its dough, honey and apple notes. Firms up on the finish. Drink now. Rated 88 Wine Spectator


Laurent Perrier Brut Champagne 1999

Muscular and graceful, slowly extending its cherry, honey and biscuit flavors across a well-toned structure. Fine length and persistence of flavors.


Laurent Perrier Brut Rose Champagne

A seductive rosé, offering berry and cherry flavors on a round, open texture. It shows fine balance and would be ideal as an aperitif. Drink now. Rated 88 Wine Spectator


Laurent Perrier Champagne Cuvee Grand Siecle

Laurent-Perrier has been located at Tours-sur-Marne since its creation in 1812, placing it at the epicenter of three famous Champagne vineyards: the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. Since 1949, the House has climbed from 100th place worldwide to 4th place. Cuvée Grand Siècle,...


Laurent Perrier Demi Sec Champagne

Its bright, shining color is a fairly deep golden hue. Its nose is intense, with a range of aromas, such as dried fruit, almonds and hazelnuts, with grilled and toasted hints. After a little aging, these will evolve to even deeper aromas of honey and pine resin.


Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial Champagne

Brut Impérial describes the driest of Moët & Chandon champagnes, with almost no liqueur added in the dosage. The resulting wine contains a less than 1.5 percent sugar level, making it dry and classic in taste. Moët & Chandon reserves its best cuvées for the bruts.


Moet & Chandon Nectar Champagne

Moët & Chandon's Nectar Impérial represents an exciting and slightly sweeter champagne. To create our Nectar Impérial, sugar is added to the dosage, preserving the classic champagne taste while offering a subtle sweetness. The outcome of a special assemblage designed to preserve the fresh taste of champagne while offering a subtle flavor.


Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Champagne 1.5L

Brut Impérial is a balanced assemblage of the three vine varieties disclosing a succession of elegant and harmonious sensations, a fresh maturity, supple and refined lines, inspiring well-being and an emotion which is appreciated and shared. A soft, sweet, dessert-style Champagne with easy flavors of pear, vanilla and almond that lingers on.


Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut Champange

Founded in 1827 in the heart of Champagne, Champagne Mumm is recognized as a leading grand marque whose reputation has been built on the quality of both its non-vintage bruts and select vintage wines. Located in Reims, France, Champagne Mumm is situated in the heart of Champagne atop 16 miles of beautiful countryside.


Perrier Jouet Champagne Fleur Rose 2002

The clear bottle with the flower design reveals to those who love fine champagne the sophisticated complexion of a vintage rosé blend : a dream of perfection comes true. This dry rosé has a forceful personality, plenty of flavor and ample complexity to bring you back for more. Combines appealing toasty notes.


Perrier Jouet Champange Flower Bottle 1.5L 1996

Launched in 1969, from a design made by Emile Gallé early this century, the cuvée Belle Epoque has gone from strength to strength. The famous flower bottle contains Perrier-Jouët's most distinguished champagne a single year vintage ennobled by the patrician Chardonnay grapes from Cramant There's depth and power here, along with a firm structure underlying the honey, vanilla and bread dough aromas and flavors. Seems to be on the dry side, but that may just be very high acidity. Fine length. Rated 92 Wine Spectator


Perrier Jouet Flower Gift Set Champagne

In true romantic fashion, Fleur de Champagne is a marriage of the very best that Champagne can produce: wines from Cramant, Avize, Ay, Mailly and Verzenay, the region's most highly-rated vineyards. One half of the blend is Chardonnay of surpassing finesse and delicacy. The other half is Pinot Noir of noble richness and complexity. The blend of these wines yields a Champagne of ravishing fragrance and style, offered in the famous Flower Bottle". The combination of wonderful Champagne and a beautiful package make Fleur the perfect partner to your most romantic encounters." The PJ Fleur set is among the most tasteful and recognizable gifts in the world of wine. The Set includes one bottle of Perrier-Jouet Fleur de Champagne and two flutes.


Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne 1.5L

Connoisseurs judge a champagne house by the quality of its non vintage brut wine . It is on its brut, created in the mid-19th century, that Perrier-Jouët has built its reputation. This champagne is a blend of the best first growths from the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne.


Pommery Brut Rose Champagne

To create Brut Rosé, Pommery selects some thirty crus. In this delicate composition, Chardonnay grapes are predominant, making up over one-third of the blend. A handful of Pinot Noir grapes are made into red wine before being blended with the Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier varieties. The Brut Rose is then aged to perfection.


Pommery Brut Royal Champagne

This fine champagne is a blend of 40 carefully selected crus from the Champagne region. It is made up of three grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and about one-third Chardonnay. This subtle blend is then aged in the Pommery cellars for about three years in order to develop its full potential.


Pommery Champagne Cuvee Louise 1995

When the year is exceptionally good, three Grand Crus are carefully selected from the Pommery vineyard. Chardonnay grapes (60%) from the villages of Avize and Cramant balance the subtle fullness of the Pinot Noir grapes(40%) from the village of Aÿ. An exceptionally long maturation period - seven years - is necessary to develop the flavor.


Roederer Brut Premier Champagne

A blend of 1/3 Chardonnay and 2/3 Pinot Noir and Meunier of the year, as well as 10% reserve wines matured in barrels for two to five years, Brut Premier is matured on lees for an average of three years. With its pale golden color and fine bead.

Roederer Cristal Brut Champagne 2000

Cristal, the ultimate Champagne to be produced by Champagne Louis Roederer, builds upon the 200-year tradition of fine winemaking that has made Roederer French Champagnes amongst the most sought-after in the world. For connoisseurs the world over, there is nothing finer than Cristal. Jewel in the Louis Roederer crown, cuvée CRISTAL...


Taittinger Champagne Brut La Francais

COMPOSITION The Taittinger brut reserve is a blend of some 30 chardonnay and pinot crus, respectively 40% and 60% of the total, from several harvests of perfectly ripened grapes. This high proportion of chardonnay is very rare in high quality champagne. It has thus been the privilege of a highly reputed brand.


Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc 1998

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs was created to commemorate Thibaud IV, Comte de Champagne, who planted the first Chardonnay vines in France in the 13th century. First released in 1957 with the 1952 vintage, it is produced exclusively from the delicate first pressing of costly Chardonnay grapes grown to perferction.


Taittinger Nocturne Champagne

Appearance: Pale yellow colour with shimmering highlights. The bubbles form a delicate necklace of fine mousse. Bouquet: Subtle and fresh, suggestive of the delightful aromas of white blossom and ripe fruit, with overtones of yellow peaches and dried apricots. Taste: The first impression on the palate is soft and mellow and full of charachter.


Veuve Clicquot Demi Sec Champagne

Fine, even effervescence greets the eye, the wine being a beautiful yellow with deep golden highlights. On the nose, it is rich in the scents of ripe fruit (candied fruits, berry liquor), with hints of toasts and brioche. In the mouth, the wine displays both roundness and mellowness.


Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame Champagne 1998

A warm, spicy note pervades, with hints of ginger and cinnamon joining citrus flavors on a moderately firm structure. It remains well-focused through the nutty aftertaste. Rated 88 Wine Spectator


Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame Rose Champagne 1998

La Grande Dame Rosé 1990 has a magnificent warm colour, with luminous, very deep gold red tint. Effervescence is fine and persistent. The quality of the vintage is reflected in the intense and powerful nose. This richness is accompanied by noble notes of dried fruits (black figs, dates) and mild spices.


Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label

Clicquot's signature brut non-vintage is loved the world over for its crisp, full flavors, consistent quality and celebratory yellow label. This classically-styled, dry Champagne is a blend of two-thirds black grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) for body, balanced with one-third Chardonnay for elegance. It has a fine persistent sparkle and elegance.


Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne 1.5L

The dominance of Pinot Noir gives this wine the strong structure typical of the House wines, while a slight touch of Pinot Meunier adds roundness. Chardonnay gives Brut Carte Jaune the elegance and finesse it needs for perfect balance. It is assembled from about fifty crus and reserve wines which give it a remarkable experience.



Premium French Champagnes

Billecarte – Salmon Brut Reserve


Bollinger "Special Cuvee"


Bollinger Grand Annee 1999




Dom Perignon


Krug Grande Cuvee


Louis Roederer Estates (Brut Premier)


Moet Chandon (NV)


Montaudon (Brut) 


Nicholas Feuillatte (Brut Premier Cru)


Perrier Jouet Brut (NV)


Perrier-Jouet Flower Bottle


Perrier-Jouet Flower Bottle Gift Set, with Glasses


Piper Heidseick Brut (NV)


Pol Roger Reserve Brut


Pommerey (Brut)
  • $106.50 per bottle for delivery, 4 to 6 days.
  • $118.30 per bottle for delivery day-after-tomorrow.
  • $139.90 per bottle for delivery today or tomorrow.


Taittinger Brut La Francaise


Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label NV


Veuve Clicquot Champagne Vintage (Gold Label)


Veuve Cliquot (Gold Reserve) Vintage Gift Set with 2 Crystal Flutes 


Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Champagne




Organic Sparkling Wines

Sparkling Brut<br>Mario Torelli <br> Piemonte
Sparkling Brut
Mario Torelli
Another Sparkling wonder from the northern region of Piemonte in Italy. Made entirely from Chardonnay grapes with the Charmat method. Fine and fruity bubbly for friendly toasts!

Cetified Organic Grapes

NV Champagne <br>Carte d’Or Brut <br>Serge Faust
NV Champagne
Carte d’Or Brut
Serge Faust
The Real Thing! A dry, full-bodied brut from Champagne. Rich, full aromas, creamy texture and mature fruit flavors. Hints of yeast and nuts. Wow!

VEGAN - Certified Organic Grapes

NV Champagne <br>Cuvée de Réserve Brut <br>Serge Faust
NV Champagne
Cuvée de Réserve Brut
Serge Faust
Outstanding! Simply the best Champagne you will ever taste at this price level. Truly exceptional!

VEGAN - Certified Organic Grapes

Blanquette de Limoux Brut, Bernard Delmas<br><br><font color=red>90 Points By Wine&Spirits Magazine
Blanquette de Limoux Brut, Bernard Delmas

90 Points By Wine&Spirits Magazine
A dry, creamy, full-bodied sparkling wine with a fine yeasty character in the aroma, and toasty green apple & lemon flavors.

VEGAN. Certified Organic Grapes

2006 <br>Moscato d’Asti <br>Mario Torelli  <br><br><font color=red>Available in March!
Moscato d’Asti
Mario Torelli

Available in March!
Preorder Now!
Delicately sweet & "frizzante" (bubbly). Made with Moscato Rosso & Malvasia Rosso for grapey fruit flavors, with a little Trebbiano for lift & acid. Seductive!

VEGAN - Certified Organic Grapes

The Nobel Art of Sabering Champagne

Here is a step-by-step guide to The Noble Art of Sabrage. If you follow these steps you will never fail to accomplish the task and do it safely*.

First, the bottle "MUST" be cold. Take a chilled bottle of champagne, not ice cold but suitable for drinking (in the fridge at least one hour prior to sabrage.)The ideal temperature is between 45-48°F or 7-8°C. Why? It is the pressure and the vibration that will "cut" the glass. A warm bottle has more pressure, which is begging for problems. A tip: Don't attempt to chill the bottle using an ice bucket as the most important part of the bottle (the neck area) is not being chilled properly.

Remove the foil to reveal the cork and wire basket. Carefully remove the wire basket (muselet) around the cork (bouchon).

Next, find one of the two seams along the side of the bottle nearest the annulus (glass lip just below the wire basket) by rubbing the tips of your fingers on the glass. At the same time, you should remove the foil, which could impede the sliding movement of the saber. (When you become an experienced sabreur, this step will not be necessary).

With your arm extended, hold the bottle firmly by placing the thumb inside the punt at the base of the bottle. Be sure the neck of the bottle is pointing up - about 30° from horizontal. Make sure no one is in your line of fire or that you are aiming at anything breakable…like a glass window, etc.** A safety tip: Drap a towel/linen napkin over the bottom portion of the bottle should the bottle explode. The towel will help to contain the glass.

Now, calmly lay the saber flat along the seam of the bottle with the sharp edge (either side works as well) ready to slide firmly against the annulus (glass ring) at the top. Your firm sliding of the saber against this ring is aided by the internal pressure of the bottle, so that the cork flies dramatically away and usually with one stroke of the sword.

When performed as noted above on a suitably chilled bottle of Champagne, the cork and glass ring will fly away, spilling little of the precious wine and leaves a neat cut on the neck of the bottle. Now, the Champagne is ready to be enjoyed. Not to worry, the internal pressure (100 psi) of the Champagne bottle always ensures that no glass falls back into the bottle making it safe for consumption.

As a further safety precaution, remember that the chilled bottle is most likely wet from condensation. As a result, the bottle becomes slippery and if you are holding the bottle by the neck, as usual, the bottle could slip in your hand and the severed glass neck of the bottle could cut your hand…it's happened to me more than once. So, when carrying newly sabraged Champagne bottle, be sure you hold it with the thumb in the punt (at the bottom of the bottle) and the remaining fingers underneath the bottle. When pouring and carrying larger bottles add your other hand at the neck area with a cloth towel for additional traction and leverage.

Caveat: Based on my experiences, some bottles don't sabrage as well as others. For example, Chandon (CA brand) has been a disaster...the glass is too fine. Also, the Roederer Estate brands don't sabrage well. And avoid brands with "plastic" corks, whenever possible, although I have sabraged many and they work. Korbel and all brands of French Champagne work very well (thicker glass) as does Methode Champenoise types like Asti Spumante, Cava, etc.

*Disclaimer: I do not endorse nor recommend sabering a Champagne bottle, or any other glass bottle, unless you have been properly trained by an experienced sabreur. It can be very dangerous if not done correctly and under the proper conditions.

Wine Bottle Size


Bottle Size Number of Glasses Comments
Mignonette 5cl to 25cl - Is used as a sample
Piccolo 20cl 1 1/4 of a standard bottle
Chopine 25cl 1.25 1/3 of a standard bottle
Half bottle (or demi) 37.5cl 1.875 Also known as Split or Tenth
Fillette 37.5cl 1.875 Same as Half
In Loire Valley only
Bottle 75cl 3.75 Standard bottle
Magnum 1.5l 7.5 2 standard bottles
Marie-Jeanne or Dame-Jeanne 2.25l 11.25 In some areas it can contain 3l
Double Magnum 3l 15 4 standard bottles
Jeroboam 4.5l 22.5 In Bordeaux
In Burgundy and Champagne, Jeroboam is 3l
First king of Israel
Rehoboam 4.5l 22.5 In Burgundy and Champagne
Son of Solomon and King of Judah
Imperial 6l 30 In Bordeaux
8 standard bottles
Methuselah or Mathusalem 6l 30 In Burgundy and Champagne
Patriarch in the Bible
Salmanazar 9l 45 12 standard bottles
King of Assyria
Balthazar 12l 60 16 standard bottles
Regent of Babylon
Nebuchadnezzar or Nabuchodonosor 15l 75 In Burgundy and Champagne
20 standard bottles
King of Babylon
Melchior 18l 90 In Burgundy and Champagne
24 standard bottles
Solomon 20l 100 Very rare
Sovereign 25l 125 In Champagne, rare

A glass is 20cl of wine (0.21 US quart / 0.42 pint / 6.75 oz)

Liquid measurements
1 liter = 0.26 US gallon / 1.05 US quart / 2.11 pint / 33.8 oz
1 standard bottle (75cl) = 0.2 US gallon / 0.8 US quart / 1.58 pint / 25.35 oz

Champagne Facts

For those of us who do not have the time (or simply do not feel like taking the time) to really get to know Champagne, we have put together this little piece. It informs you on the basic principles of Champagne, and is capable of instilling enough intellectual substance to impress your current & future friends with your astounding knowledge of the bubbly stuff. Beware of the true connoisseur though: bluffing can be a risky business. If and when you find yourself opposite a genuine authority on the subject, try to learn something and keep your ears open and your mouth shut.

Below is a brief summary of the bare essentials and some tips you ought to master if you want to bluff about Champagne:

Champagne always comes from the Champagne region in France. This region is situated in the area of Reims. The better Champagnes mostly come from Reims, Epernay, Hauteville, Ay, Versus or Ludes. Real Champagne is controlled by the Appellation d'Origine Controllee (AOC). So don’t be fooled by Champagnes from South-Africa, Germany or California. These might taste rather good, but they can’t possibly be Champagne. It is however absolutely conceivable that some of these sparkling wines (also known as methode champenoise) are of better quality than an inferior Champagne. Nevertheless, as a verified bluffer one has to be opposed on principal alone.

There are over 5400 Champagne suppliers. The biggest one is Moet & Chandon (accounting for over 50% of the total world-wide production of Champagne).

There are a few varieties of Champagne, namely: Extra-Brut, Brut, Extra-Sec, Demi-Sec (also known as Dry) and Doux. The difference is in the percentage of liqueur added to the original grape juices. The Brut and the Demi-sec are the best known of the lot. Variations are the Brut-rose and the Blanc de Blancs. The latter is a little harder to come by. Ladies and novice Champagne drinkers often prefer Demi-sec over Brut. The experienced drinker of Champagne however swears by Brut or Brut-rose. The bluffer obviously condemns the Demi-sec, since it has to be about the uncontaminated stuff, not any additives allowed.

Champagnes are allowed to be made of two or three types of grapes: the red (yes, you are reading this right) Pinot Noir, the white Chardonnay and often a small part of red Pinot Meunier. The connoisseurs frequently prefer a subtle mix of the first two types of grape. The Pinot Meunier is usually only added to enhance the aroma a little which is, for the bluffer, a reprehensible matter.

A Champagne made solely of Chardonnay is called a Blanc de Blancs. Goes very well with some fish, lobster or a few oysters.

The prominent brands of Champagne you must at least know by name are:

Moet et Chandon: This mega factory supplies a constant and very good quality Champagne each year, by mixing Champagnes from other years. It’s actually not entirely fair since the grapes differ in quality each year. You would therefore expect a Champagne from 1988 to be better than one from 1990. As said, this doesn’t apply to Mo?t, unless you’re dealing with a Mill?sime/Vintage. The caves of M&C are in Epernay: having arrived there, you can have yourself driven around in a little train past 65 million bottles lying in wait for their time to come.
Bollinger: Agent 007’s house Champagne
Pol Roger: Superb quality, can never go wrong!
Krug: Superior Champagne. Henry Krug only produces Vintage Champagnes, so only the best of the best.
Dom Perignon: Note: this is not a separate brand, but a superior quality Champagne which originates, just like for instance Lanson, from the cellars of Mo?t et Chandon. M&C has merely linked the name of the "inventor" of the bubbly stuff to it’s house. Dom P?rignon was a fairly merry monk who tinkered about with exploding bottles endlessly in the abbey of Hautevillers before he achieved the divine liquid we are now talking about.
Taittinger: Lovely stuff, especially the 1978 Taittinger Collection which was perfect.
Pommery: Quickly expanding Champagne house run by Louise Pommery.
Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin: "Veuve" means widow, and as you might have guessed this brand concerns the bubblies made by the widow of one mister Clicquot. There’s an amusing anecdote on how Madame Clicquot once had her antique oak table moved to the wine caves, and had holes drilled in it so she could store the Champagne bottles vertically but upside down. The idea was to let the residue sink to the cork. Veuve Clicquot marketed La Grande Dame. An adept remark for bluffers would be that the normal non-vintage Brut cannot begin to be compared to the La Grande Dame in terms of taste and quality.
Laurent Perrier: Tip: these are the bubblies of the widow Mathilde Perrier, who was once married to one Eugene Laurent.

The grapes used for Champagne are hand picked, since a damaged grape can affect the color of the Champagne. They are pressed as soon as possible in immense presses that can contain up to 4000 kilo’s (8800 lbs.) of grapes at a time. The first pressing is called the cuv?e, the second one the premier taille. There is a third pressing, but this one is something a true bluffer will have none of. The cuv?e produces approximately 2000 litres (528 gal) of grape juice and has the best quality since later pressings are darker of color. This is why you will often find the phrase Cuv?e on the label.

After the pressing any impurities are removed. The unwanted particles sink to the bottom of a steel or wooden vat in 12 hours. With a little intelligent draining off, you will be left with a pure wine which is hardly distinguishable from normal wine. Here comes the trick: the blending of the grape juices, the first fermentation in the vat, adding of liqueur de tirage (a mix of sugar, old wine and yeast) and the second fermentation in the bottle. The second fermentation can last up to five years. During the first three years the bottles are placed horizontally on lattes. After this resting period the bottles are put in a so-called pupitre and turned every day by a remueur (basically a fellow with extremely fast hands). During this second fermentation the residue settles in the neck of the bottle. By freezing the neck, and then taking of the cap of the bottle, the piece of frozen residue is removed. This is called d?gorgement.

The bottled Champagnes remain in-between three and seven years in the caves before they will be sold. It is often true that the longer in the cave, the better the quality.

The bestChampagne corks are made of Portuguese cork.

When the cork is in the bottle, it is held in place by a muselet (literally translated: muzzle) to prevent the cork from bursting from the bottle in an unexpected or unwanted moment. For their better Champagnes Bollinger and Princier still use string instead of wire muselets. Remember not to call these things caps.

The pressure in a Champagne bottle can build up to 6 Bar (or 88 psi). For your reference: the pressure in a car tire is approximately 3 Bar or 45 psi.

Champagnes that state a year on the label are Vintage Champagnes. As a rule these are of better quality than non-vintage Champagnes. The best ones are the Millesime Champagnes. These are vintage Champagnes of a perfect year. Well-known Millesime Champagnes are those from 1966, 1971, 1982, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990 en 1992.

The better Champagne years which are readily available at the moment are 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1992, in regard of which you of course know that 1985 was of better quality than 1990. It goes without saying that you have had the 1985 Krug and/or Dom Perignon lying at home for ages waiting for that special occasion.

With regard to glasses you obviously drink from a flute. This is a tulip shaped glass made of thin glass. The wide coupes are a definite no-no. The bubbles evaporate too quickly and the aroma can’t really be tasted properly either. The better class of flutes has a little drop of glass on the bottom of the glass. This makes the bubblies rise from the little drop. The bluff-factor will be impressive if you let it drop you are dealing with a true Champagne glass based on your observation of the little drop in the glass. There’s nothing like a crystal glass too. The structure of the glass is slightly rougher which brings out the bubbles better.

Champagne is best consumed at 6 to 10 degrees centigrade (42-50F) (depending on the Champagne). In practice, this means taking a bottle from your supply and leave it in a cooler for 10 minutes. The ice bucket is half filled with ice and then topped off with cold water until it’s full.

In decadent restaurants or bars, it has been known for glasses to be served with ice in them. The biggest blunder you can make is to launch your precious Champagne into those glasses filled with ice cubes! It will come across much more impressive to subtly inform the waiter that this trick is mere folly. Proper Champagnes glasses are made of thin glass, and the Champagne will therefore cool the glass, not the other way around. On the contrary, with chilled glasses, the temperature could drop below the desired 6 to 10 degrees C, killing the much coveted effect altogether.

The “Traditional” way of opening a bottle of Champagne is another one of those things that could be done all wrong. The right way is to get rid of the foil surrounding the cork (just enough to clear the cork and muselet) and then untwist the muselet (save it for entering our annual Champagne Chair Contest). While doing this, you keep the bottle at an angle of 45 degrees pointed away from you (but preferably not in the direction of the lady accompanying you, that pretty painting by Monet, nor the chandelier). The trick is to get the cork from the bottle in such a way that a slight hiss is just audible. The easiest method is to gently twist the cork a little and as soon as it starts to give restraint with your hand. A loud pop is an absolute sin. Shooting the cork as far away as possible might be fun, but is viewed upon by the bluffer as utterly bizarre, as precious carbon dioxide is lost in the launch. If the bottle has (god forbid) been shaken too much during transport or something similar, it is possible that the Champagne will spontaneously start flowing from the bottle. For such an event you will naturally have the glasses standing by, thus preventing from too much of the divine stuff being wasted.

If you really want to do it by the book, you should pour a glass in stages. First of all, the polite thing to do is to ask who would like to do the tasting. This person will be served a quarter filled glass. The filling of the glasses is done by holding the bottle at the back with your thumb in the inward curve of the bottom of the bottle or punt, (this might be a good time for a bluffer quote "One holds a bottle of red wine by the neck, a woman by the waist, and a bottle of Champagne by the derriere.") tilting the glass, and not splashing the Champagne into it. The latter in order not to let the bubblies evaporate during the pouring. On top of that, it prevents the mess that results from the glass overflowing if the filling is done too turbulently.

The person who does the tasting, and you can tell from his or her reaction whether you are dealing with a bluffer, novice or experienced Champagne drinker. If it turns out to be a Champagne lover of the experienced kind, you keep your bluffer self extremely quiet. If however the person in question is a fellow-bluffer or even a novice, the process of over-bluffing can begin. This can be an extremely entertaining enterprise but a subsequent (harmonious) continuation of the relationship might be desirable. Bluffing with your managing director or client could go wrong. After tasting and the exchanging of observed characteristics of the Champagne, the remaining glasses are filled. The correct way to do this is topping them up until they are no more than three-quarters full.

Drinking Champagne must be done in style. Needless to say that the glass must be held by the stem. The first sip should be taken liberally. Keep the Champagne in your mouth and let some air in through pursed lips. This allows the Champagne to reach all parts of the mouth and now your tastebuds and tongue are in for a little party. While keeping your glass lifted up you admire the color and scrutinize the shape of the bubblies. You swallow the sip and savor the aftertaste. Your next step depends on the desired level of bluff. If you are in a brave mood, you could voice a few remarks on what you are tasting (or have read elsewhere on this page) and what you are observing regarding the color and or types of bubblies. You naturally holler something about the duration and flavor of the aftertaste. Cunning as you are, you had already inspected the bottle thus knowing whether you are dealing with a quality Champagne of some non-vintage concoction. Depending on this, you give a disapproving, favorable, or so-so opinion. The best (read: most impressive) thing you can do is of course to attribute a sensation to the Champagne that says something about the body, the character, the soul and the heart of the Champagne. Popular expressions are: sensual, charming, romantic, intelligent, zealous, passionate, ecstatic, unity, mystical, gentle. Make sure however that there are no experienced Champagne drinkers around, since these phrase are clearly defined in the Champagne vocabulary in terms of color, taste and bubblies. So if you are claiming that something tastes of orange blossom and is zealous at the same tame, your status as a bluffer is a dead give away for the true connoisseur.

The following flavors, which you will no doubt be able to recognize unfailingly, can be found in Champagne:

Flowers: wild rose, lemon blossom, orange blossom.
Fruit: lemon, apple, pear, quince, peach, nectarine, apricot, mango, banana, lichee, coconut, cherry.
Plants: fresh almonds, freshly cut grass, fern, truffle.
Dried fruit: hazelnut, raisin, figs
Epicuristic: fresh butter, toast, honey, sweeted fruit, vanilla, spices.

Some Trivial Facts & Figures:

There are approximately 50 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.
There are 5125 registered growers, 44 cooperation's and 265 Champagne houses.
The Champagne region has 980 million bottles of Champagne stored under the ground.
The Champagne Ardennes measures 320 by 70 kilometres (123 sq miles x 27 sq miles).
The first producer of Champagne "as we know it" was Ruinart in 1729.
The caves of the big houses can be from 10 to 20 km long (6 –12 miles).
A rumueur (fellow with fast hands) rotates over 10,000 bottles a day by an eighth of a turn every day.
Over 55% of the Champagne market is held by Mo?t & Chandon and his pals.
A producer often uses several brands under different names. There is only a handful of big players who call the shots.
The producers obtain their grapes often for a substantial part from third parties.
The prices of grapes are fixed annually.
The biggest bottle in the world (2 metres high or 6.5 ft tall) is at Beamont des Crayers in Mardeuil.
The largest wooden vat can be found at Mercier in Epernay (200,000 bottles).
The biggest crystal glass is at Taittinger in Reims (the size of a roomy bathtub).

Champagne information

How fast is the cork traveling when it pops?

Between 30 and 50 mph depending on the size and pressure contained inside the bottle.

What is the pressure inside a bottle of Champagne?

The pressure reaches 6 atmosheres or about 90 pounds per square inch (psi).

What is the useful life of a grape vine?

Between 27 and 50 years. The vines usually start producing after 3 years.

Is Champagne really an aphrodisiac?

Yes and No. Like all alcohols, it makes you feel less inhibited, so that is associated with pleasure. It also has the advantage of being lighter so it doesn't make you drowsy.

Is Champagne an AOC (Appellation Origine Controlee) wine?

Yes, but it the only one that doesn't require this fact mentioned on the do others.

How should Champagne be stored?

Champagne must always be kept lying in a cool place and well away from direct light. Why? The sparkle or bubble conservation demands this position.

How long does Champagne keep?

When you order a bottle of Champagne from most vineyards, it has already spent several years resting in their cellars. It is this lengthy ageing that partly explains the retail price of your favorite Champagne.

So, there's really no need for you to continue ageing your champagne. In practice, you can keep non-vintage Bruts 3 to 4 years and vintage cuv?es 5 to 10 years in a cool dry place.

In ideal cellar conditions (around 50F), some fine Champagnes will keep for twenty or thirty years or more. However, it is not as long lived as a Burgundy or Bordeaux.

If you do not have the luxury of a cellar, however, the best place to store it is somewhere in the dark that has a constant temperature, as cool as possible. Then your timescale for keeping is very limited. The Champenois say that you should not keep Champagne for longer that it was cellared originally, so that means from two years for a non-vintage, and from three years for a vintage.

You may be lucky and not suffer from deterioration if you keep your Champagne outside a cellar for longer periods, but frankly, the better houses' Champagnes are well aged when you buy them, so why not drink up straight away?

How well does Champagne “travel”?

Champagne travels very well, even better than wine. The reason is that the cork has a very high density (its diameter is squeezed from 31 to 17 mm to fit the neck of the bottle) and that severely limits the entry of outside air. And since oxygen is removed during in-bottle fermentation process and replaced by carbon dioxide (the carbon dioxide gas is dissolved in the wine in order to produce bubbles when the bottle is opened). As a result, wine disruption is minimal during transport.

How much is Champagne worth?

There is not such a great market in the re-sale of Champagne as there is with quality Bordeaux or Burgundy wines, although certain wines such as Dom Perignon and Cristal from top vintages attract the attention of collectors all over the world. A collector would be very keen to know the provenance of a Champagne, i.e. where it has been stored since it left the cellars in Champagne. If it has been on your mantelpiece for the last few years, forget trying to sell it!

A friend in Paris told me this story a couple of years ago:

An old dear, a matriarch of the Taittinger family, was celebrating her 80th birthday. A party had been arranged at the Taittinger chateau in Reims. It was thought a good idea to toast her health with a magnum bottle of 80 year old Taittinger, "fresh" from their cellars.

The guests went silent as Claude, head of the household, reverentially opened this esteemed bottle. All eyes were on him as he eased out the cork and poured the first glass. He eyed it up, sniffed it, took a tiny sip...and quickly proclaimed: "I am pleased that Madame has aged far better than our Champagne!"

Apparently it was rubbish. And this from a bottle that had been in ideal conditions for 80 years. So if your friend is over 40, buy them something else! Consider an old Burgundy or Bordeaux which are somewhat longer lived than Champagnes. Older Champagnes can be bought at auctioneers such as Christie's and Sotheby's.

Does Champagne have vitamins or calories?

Yes! Those contained in the grapes and their yeast (vitamin B1 and C, etc). There are 100 caloriers in a 19 cl. or 6.42 ounce glass of Champagne.

How can I find out about a particular Champagne brand?

Most of the bigger houses now have their own websites. There are around 12,000 Champagne brands, yet we have only 20 or so websites listed. Who are the rest? They can be brands belonging to small houses who make wine from grapes from their own small vineyards.

They can be brands belonging to individual members of a co-operative: All the farmers in the co-operative take their grapes to a central pressing unit and cellar, where a Chef du Cave creates the wine. The co-op then sells the wine under its own brand(s) and the members all receive their share of the proceeds. But the members can also call off quantities of those same Champagnes to be labeled with their own brand, and then sold as their "own" wine. Some co-ops have 5000 members.

They can be Marque Acheteur (buyer's own) brands: The buyer of a supermarket like Safeway or Trader Joe's visits Champagne and orders thousands of cases from a Champagne house. It's the same blend as the Grande Marque Champagne, and will sit next to its clone on the supermarket shelf, but at a fraction of the Grande Marque price. So they give it a different label with a different brand name.

Many houses also have an "under brand". When a house has used the best wines for its top Cuvées, there is inevitably some left over after blending. This can be taille (third pressing), or just wine that didn't work out so well. Or maybe the house just wants to release some Champagne quickly to improve cash flow. They would not want to prejudice their established customers by selling under their recognized brand name, so they use a diiferent label. Often these wines are sold as "Comte de ....., Duc de ....., Marquis de ......" to give the customer the impression that a French Lord in his Chateau is disposing of some of his private cellar!

Which is the best Champagne?

The one that you enjoy the most. I would not presume to tell you which Champagnes you should enjoy, although I taste many every year during sabrages. So, I can tell you which ones suit my palate and which I feel are good value.

In the case of super-prestige and super-priced Champagnes like Louis Roederer Cristal, I believe many people are buying a dream as much as a drink, and their purchase of such wines is as much a fashion statement of conspicuous consumption as of a desire for fine Champagne.

1 800 4 Champagne

A special wine for celebration

Holy wine, from the beginning

A holy wine, from the beginning.  In early times, it was the monks who tended the vines to produce the sacred wine drunk during Mass.  A fortuitous combination of events ensured Champagne’s place in history.  Saint Rémi, bishop of Rheims, lived in a villa surrounded by vines, near where the town of Epernay now stands.  He converted Clovis, King of the Franks, to Christianity.  At the king’s baptism at Christmas in 496, he was anointed with Champagne wine, in the Champagne region.

Stepped in history

Between 898 and 1825 the kings of France were crowned in Rheims, in the heart of the Champagne region.  At the accompanying festivities, Champagne flowed freely. The wines were appreciated for their flavour and superior taste, and were offered in homage to any visiting monarchs to the area.  Both Francis I and Mary Stuart (later Mary Queen of Scots) received casks of Champagne on their travels through Rheims, while Louis XIV was offered several hundred pints for his coronation. 
From the 12th century onwards, Champagne became increasingly well known and appreciated around the world.  The choice of the rich and important, it was accepted as the wine for celebrations.

Even the revolutionaries on Bastille Day, 14 July 1789, considered Champagne the appropriate wine to celebrate with on the Champ de Mars. Then a few years later, the statesmen and princes attending the Congress of Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic wars, spoke of the omnipresence of Champagne.  The attendees all had a marvellous time: ‘their spirits sparkled like the wines of Champagne’ and it helped formed a bond between the participants.

Champagne wine has been featured at the signing of many important treaties, including Maastricht.  Queen Pomare of Tahiti ordered several cases of Champagne to mark the dedication of a pagan temple on her island.  Down the centuries Champagne wines have always featured prominently on the wine lists at Royal marriages.  At the Paris Exhibition of 1900, it made a spectacular appearance – by balloon.  Today, more than ever, people always call for Champagne when celebrating significant events.


Emotional times

Champagne is the wine of choice for launching ships – it has blessed the hulls of countless vessels, and it doesn’t matter if the ship was the Great Britain launched in 1843, the QEII in 1969 or someone’s sailing dinghy, called ‘My Dream’, launched just last week, it has to be Champagne.  It was there, of course, for the maiden flight of Concorde and the meeting of the French and English sections of the Channel Tunnel.

It was definitely served ice-cold on Annapurna when Maurice Herzog cracked open a bottle in triumph at climbing the peak.  In 1978, Pierre Mazeaud also drank Champagne on the summit of a mountain, this time it was Everest.  And following in the tradition of the early aviators, Jean-Loup Chrétien called for a glass of Champagne when he landed after his trip to the Soviet space station.

... and for good byes

Philip of Orléans was waiting in the Conciergerie to appear before the Revolutionary Tribunal in 1793, and knowing what his fate would be, calmly drank the ‘wine of kings’ – he could think of no better way to spend his last moments on earth.
After Napoléon had defeated the army of the Tsar at Smolensk, the local gentry consoled themselves with Champagne – ‘delicious even though French’.

And we will certainly be seeing out the old century and welcoming the new with a glass of Champagne.


Great occasions

Whatever the occasion, we have adopted the habit of celebrating with Champagne.  Take sports, for-example.  Winning teams toast their success in Champagne and who can forget the image of Grand Prix drivers on the winners’rostrum after the race celebrating their prowess with bottles of Champagne.

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