Two Vastly Different Chardonnay Champagnes

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
September 13, 2007

Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blanc D'ay label

Beacon Wines & Spirits
2120 Broadway
@ 74th St
New York, NY 10023

Astor Wines & Spirits
399 Lafayette St
@ 4th St
New York, NY 10013

The name of the game in champagne making is blending. Winemakers source grapes from different harvests and regions to balance and exact a certain style. The exception is bubblies made from grapes that come from a single source (usually a single village or even the rarer example of a single vineyard). I happen to be very fond of single-village champagnes because they highlight the characteristics of the grapes’ unique origin (otherwise known as terroir). Here are two examples that celebrate two top Grand Cru villages:

A classic blanc de blancs, Mumm de Cramant has been around since 1882. It was one of the first examples of this genre of Chardonnay-only champagne. Sourced from the top Grand Cru chardonnay village of Cramant, this wine boasts the fact that Mumm owns some of the best plots there. Creamy and fresh, it’s an all-time favorite. ($65) (Beacon)

A totally different blanc de blancs from the Grand Cru Pinot Noir land of Aÿ. A rarity and a completely convincing study in terroir, Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blanc d’Aÿ is a pure Chardonnay wine made from grapes grown in Aÿ. This is the most coveted village for Pinot Noir-driven champagnes. It is home to the two heavy-weight houses of Bollinger and Gosset. In this wine, you’ll taste more of what the soil of Aÿ, which produces top-notch Pinot Noir grapes, imparts rather than common taste profiles from Chardonnay. This sets this wine apart from other blanc de blancs in the best way. ($36) (Astor)

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