So you’ve heard of Cristal from music videos? Or regularly buy Veuve Clicquot but you aren’t quite sure why?
Champagne is without a doubt one of the most revered beverages—perfect for celebrating, entertaining, and toasting your day, just because.
Wanting to dissect what exactly the brands are on the liquor store shelves, we’ve assembled the key brands that it is important to be familiar with.
Bear in mind that champagne is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France following rules that demand secondary fermentation of the wine in the bottle to create carbonation. So that cava from spain or a prosecco might taste a lot like champagne, but it is not technically champagne.
Have a favorite kind of champagne? Share it in the comments below!
Armand de Brignac
Armand de Brignac, or as it is colloquially called, "Ace of Spades", is well-known for being rapper and business mogul, Jay Z's favorite luxury beverage. It's easy to disregard, but the showy champagne is actually very well-made. The brand is produced by the award-winning Champagne Cattier House of Chingy-les-Roses, France. It first gained worldwide attention in Jay Z's music video for the song "Show Me What You Got" in late 2006. By 2009 it was rated the world's number one champagne by Fine Champagne magazine in a blind tasting.
The brand is identifiable by its distinct gold-colored bottles designed by famed French fashion designer André Courrèges. The hand-crafted bottles include a pewter label with an ace of spade insignia symbolizing the region's regal history and heritage. Each one is a work of art filled with "butter-soft, creamy, and complex champagne within it." The taste is complex and full-bodied with almond-orange notes.
Price Range: To enjoy Jay Z's champagne of choice one will have to shell out $300 a pop.
Also known as the "James Bond" champagne, Bollinger has been featured in over eleven of the 007 films. The champagne house's story, however, begins in 1829 when a young aristocrat by the name of, Athanase de Villermont, saw the potential of the wine of champagne in his recently inherited estate and met fellow wine experts, Joseph Bollinger and Paul Renaudin. Together the three men founded a champagne house that would endure through the centuries.
Bollinger is produced with a blend consisting primarily of pinot noir. Its fruit and smoky flavors are more common in wines made with black grapes. One to try: the Bolligner Champagne Special Cuvée tastes of baked apples and orange blossoms.
Price Range: Bottles average at around $80.
In 1668, a young Pierre Pérignon took office at a Benedictine abbey located in the heart of Champagne, France. Under his direction, the abbey and its vineyards prospered. Until his death in 1715, he made no exception to his ambitions for perfection, to create "the best wine in the world" as said in his own words on September 29, 1694. Today, Dom Pérignon is produced by the champagne house Moët and Chandon, another brand on our list. Dom Pérignon is their prestige vintage champagne.
Price Range: From the hands of Louis XIV to Lady Gaga, a bottle of the celebrated champagne can be yours as well if you are willing to spend from $150 on up.
Krug is one of the most exclusive champagne house, thanks to the champagne's unique style. Founder Joseph Krug founded the company in 1843. Now the brand is renowned for its extended aging process. Their celebrated Clos d'Ambonnay is a champagne made entirely from pinot noir grapes from a single vineyard with production limited to only 3,000 bottles and a price tag of $2,500 and up.
Price Range: Price start at $140 and go way up from there.
Francois Delamotte's champagne house is one of the oldest in champagne. The sparkling wines are made predominately with pinot noir and chardonnay to create the purest champagne style.
By the late 19th century, Lanson was supplying champagne by royal appointment to the courts of the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Spain. Queen Victoria even awarded Lanson the famous Royal Warrant as an official supplier to the Court of England, a distinction which Lanson has retained ever since. The bottles display the coat of arms of Elizabeth II.
Price Range: Bottles cost an average of $40 for the Brut label and up to $150 for the Brut Extra Age.
Laurent Perrier was founded in 1812 by Andre Michel Pierlot and is the largest family run champagne house to this day. Laurent Perrier was the first champagne house to introduce a large proportion of chardonnay (a minority grape in the region) into the blend of its NV Brut L-P. This particular blend of champagne ranks relatively low on the alcohol content level, which may explain its popularity as a popular aperitif at high-end parties such as the Oscars.
Price Range: A bottle of Laurent Perrier costs $60 on average.
While the founding fathers were drafting the Declaration of Independence, Louis Roederer champagne was born in Reims, France. Made from grapes from the finest vineyards and matured in oak casks, the taste is structured and deliciously smooth.
You may have also heard of the brand Cristal, which Roederer produces and is viewed by many as the most opulent vintage champagne. Although Cristal was first developed in 1876 for Alexander II of Russia, the brand became a household name after several hip-hop artists began referencing the drink in their song lyrics in the mid '90s and early aughts. The Tsar's paranoia is thought to be the inspiration for its unusual clear, flat-bottomed bottle designed so that he would be able to see if anyone was trying to poison him.
Price Range: The Methuselah (8 times larger than standard size) 1990 Cristal Brut Millennium was sold at Christes, New York in 2005 for $18,800. But a standard bottle will cost you around $200.
Moët & Chandon
Moët & Chandon is a prestigious champagne house that is a part of LVMH. As one of the world's largest champagne producers the brand appeals to the more extravagant of champagne buyers and boasts of its long history of glamorous fans. Their champagne has been featured at royal weddings and the Oscars. Legend has it that Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte along with his troops invented the tradition of sabering open bottles of Moët to announce their triumphant victories.
Claude Moët founded the house in 1743. Later, his grandson Jean-Rémy Moët helped to bring the champagne house to international prominence while on his quest to "share the magic of champagne with the world."
Price Range: Bottles begin at $50.
Although it is certainly the youngest brand on our list, Nicholas Feuillate is just as deserving of a mention. The French-born Nicolas Feuillate first made his fortune in the U.S. as a coffee importer. After inheriting a vineyard near Reims he set out to develop his own champagne brand in 1976. He wanted to make a champagne that would reflect his own personality and desire for the quality experience that he delights in sharing. Feuillate created an elegant and sophisticated champagne that became an immediate hit with A-listers like Jackie Kennedy-Onasis and Lauren Bacall.
Price Range: A bottle will cost you between $50 to $250.
Perrier Jouët pioneered the brut style in the mid-19th century. In 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier married Adele Jouët the House of Perrier-Jouët was born. Recognized for its exacting quality it was a favorite of Napoleon III and Queen Victoria.
Perrier Jouët is most well-known for its decorative, flowery bottle that contains the premium Belle Epoque Cuvée (Grace Kelly's favorite) and their vintage Fleur de Champagne. The champagne tastes of pear and a touch of creaminess. It hints at sweetness without being too overbearing.
Price Range: The delicious and gorgeous bottles cost around $50.
In 1785 Florens-Louis Heidsieck traveled to Versailles and presented his wine to Queen Marie Antoinette. She loved the champagne and word quickly spread throughout the court. Fast forward to 1953 when yet another celebrated beauty would make the brand popular in the United States. Marilyn Monroe famously declared that she went to bed every night with a drop of perfume and woke up every morning with a glass of Champagne Piper-Heidsieck. It is also the wine used at the Festival de Cannes.
Regis Camus, Piper-Heidsieck's Director of Wines and Vineyards, has won the Sparkling Winemaker of the year award eight times. Camus has worked to give the champagnes an aroma of citrus, apple, and pear that creates their structured and fruity taste.
Price Range: Their wines start at $60 and go up to $200 for the better quality blends.
Pol Roger was only eighteen when he made his first sale of wine on January 2, 1849. Ever since the brand has been owned and run by his descendants. Pol Roger is the "gentlemen's" champagne, as Jean-Paul Kauffman wrote in Voyage en Champagne, so it is not surprising that Winston Churchill and even the British royal family have made it their favorite. Winston Churchill was a longtime admirer and later an ambassador of the brand after his first few sips in 1908. Churchill used to say of champagne: "In victory, deserve it; In defeat, need it." In his honor their celebrated Cuvée Winston Churchill was born in 1975.
Price Range: Bottles can range from $50-$300 each.
Ruinart is the world's oldest champagne house. Well ahead of his time the monk, Dom Thierry Ruinart, established the house in 1729, which is still exclusively producing champagne and run by the Ruinart family. In their blends they use a bigger proportion of Chardonnay than most other houses, so the taste is delicate and subtle, yet full of flavor.
Price Range: Ruinart is best known for its Blanc de Blanc and Brut Rosé which are both priced at $70.
Taittinger is another company coming out of the French wine country called Reims. The property is thought to be developed by Jean Oudart, a Benedictine monk and one of the founding fathers of champagne wine. The estate was founded in 1932 by Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger who first discovered the Champagne region of France as a young liaison officer during World War I. Since then it has grown and taken its place among the great champagne houses.
The brand is still run by the Taittigner family to this day. Their wines are particularly influenced by Chardonnay, which is characterized by delicate and fresh aromas as well as minerals and notes of citrus and white flowers. Their blends are know for being very smooth and fresh.
Price Range: Prices start around $50 and can reach up to $500 a case.
Matthew D. Shaw
Even when compared to most champagnes, Veuve Clicquot has an impressive resume. This French champagne house based in Reims is a part of the LVMH group of luxury brands. The company played an important role in establishing champagne as a favorite drink of the haute bourgeoisie and nobility throughout Europe. In 1810 Madame Clicquot created the first recorded vintage champagne and later invented the process that creates the crystal-clear bubbly we all know and love today. More recently, Veuve Clicquot has even been featured in many famous films such as Casa Blanca.
Since the company's establishment in 1772, their motto has been "Only one quality, the finest." And with a world-renowned reputation the taste does not disappoint. The Veuve Clicquot champagne style is noted for a firm structure, full-bodied texture, and rich aromas.
Price Range: Costs begin around $50 for their Brut Yellow Label and up to $300 for their La Grand Dame bottles.