Blanc de BlancsCategory
Blanc de blancs champagnes are made exclusively from white-skinned grapes, i.e., chardonnay.
However, they can also be made with petit meslier, pinot blanc (aka blanc vrai), pinot gris (aka fromenteau), and arbanne (or arbane). An interesting example is Drappier Quattuor, made with 25% arbanne, 25% petit meslier, 25% blanc vrai, and 25% chardonnay to add elegance and persistence.
Blanc de blancs are very popular nowadays for their elegance as they are lighter than pinot champagnes, and are very suited for an aperitif, with their refreshing acidity (chardonnay is more acidic than pinots).
In their youth, they may be too light to accompany food, but this is untrue for older ones, which can develop so much power! The ultimate expression of powerful aged chardonnay blanc de blancs champagne is Salon. It’s made only with grape from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, a grand cru in the Côte des Blancs subregion where chardonnay is king.
Another great expression of high-end rich blanc de blancs is Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires. Krug Clos du Mesnil is the most expensive and for many the best Krug champagne. A high-end lighter classic is Taittinger Comtes de Champagne.
One that is not that known and that impressed me is Henriot Cuvée 38, a high-end intimate champagne made with chardonnay from four of the six the grand cru in the Côte des Blancs, with the added twist of applying the réserve perpétuelle principle. Every year, at the discretion of the chef de cave, 3% to 20% of the grape harvest from these four crus are added as wine in the same vat, vat number 38 to be specific, hence the name of this champagne. As they are added in the vat, the equivalent quantity is drawn off to create this rare champagne. Only 1,000 limited-edition magnums are released each year.
A more affordable, younger, and admired is Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, a non-vintage that has become a reference for this category. Frédéric Panaïotis doesn’t just use chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs but also from the Montagne de Reims, land of pinot noir, and I find his cuvée rounder and easier than most younger blanc de blancs from Côte des Blancs solely.
Increasingly house added blanc de blancs to their range as consumers love them so much. I like them too, but find many young ones a bit too “skinny,” although I appreciate the great purity and minerality of some of them.
Among my favorites is Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel Blanc de Blancs, which, although extra brut (dosage 4 g/l) is round and approachable, full of taste and elegance. I also very much enjoy the new Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs, and was impressed by Duval-Leroy Prestige Blanc de Blancs.