World's Best Champagne
Luxist readers from around the world have nominated their favorite makers of champagne and sparkling wines. Here's the list of the top five that made the list of the world's best:
For a champagne founded in the same year as the United States of America, Louis Roederer's Cristal has changed remarkably little over the years compared to the country across the pond.
Founded in 1776 as Dubois Pere & Fils, the company was renamed after the founder's nephew, Louis Roederer, who took over in 1833 and renamed the champagne house after himself. One of Roederer's greatest moves was expanding the brand into Russia. The champagne enjoyed years of success among well-heeled Russians, and Tsar Nicholas II eventually requested a special champagne to be made for the Imperial Court of Russia. The result was Cristal, a sweet and delicious wine that broke with tradition – instead of being packaged in a dark bottle like, say, Dom Perignon – Cristal came in crystal-clear bottles, hence the name. As legend has it, the transparency was a feature designed so that Tsar Nicholas could tell if somebody was trying to poison his bubbly.
Gallery: Louis Roederer's Cristal Champagne
France's King Louis XIV, called The Sun King because everything revolved around him, had an uncanny connection to the champagne that eventually found its way into his court. In 1694, Dom Perignon, the monk who developed the regal wine, had a goal to create the best wine in the world. Sure enough, Dom Perignon became the most expensive wine sold in France that year. The 1921 vintage became the first prestige cuvée ever, with an initial batch sold in 1936. It has been served at all manner of glamorous occasions, including the Shah of Iran's 1959 wedding, as well as Prince Charles and Princess Diana's nuptials in 1981. Since Dom Perignon is a vintage champagne, it's not made in years considered to be weak.
Gallery: Dom Perignon
Many champagne houses claim a lengthy lineage, but perhaps more than any other, Krug has kept its business all in the family. Starting in 1843, Krug has been blended by a Krug family member every single year. The house boasts that only its generational approach to wine making can maintain the same high standards over the years. In making champagne, time is a key element, and Krug has plenty of it. All of Krug's champagnes are aged for at least six year in cellars far below the French city of Reims. Grapes are hand-picked and pressed; the product is then placed in 205-liter small oak casks. Krug is the only premier champagne house that still ferments all of its wines in oak, which gives its offerings a unique and complex taste. Today, Krug and its Grand Cuvée are among the most prized holdings of luxury conglomerate LVMH. Keeping with tradition, though, the Krug family still runs the show.
The ingredients of a top champagne include the growth of the finest grapes, the time of the most dedicated laborers and the hard work of the best oenologists. What set Pommery apart from other champagne houses, however, was its acquisition of a network of crayeres, the subterranean limestone-chalk networks built underneath Reims by the Romans during their rule over Gaul. It was here that the most remarkable vintages of Pommery gained their character. Today, more than 20 million bottles are maturing 30 meters below the surface, kept at a constant temperature of 10 degrees Celsius.
If it weren't for Veuve Clicquot, your next glass of champagne might be full of sediment. The house invented the practice of remuage, or riddling, wherein bottles are turned by hand so that the solid matter gets pushed into the neck and can be emptied before the bottling process is complete. Remuage is just one of the advanced techniques pioneered by Veuve Clicquot over the course of its storied history. Founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot, the house became the first to ship rosé champagne three years later. In 1987, the brand became part of luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, maintaining the brand's historical caché. Reminders of the champagne's history are never far away – in 2008, the oldest unopened bottle of Veuve was found in a Scottish castle. Not for sale, the bottle now graces the Veuve Clicquot visitor center in Reims, France.
Gallery: Veuve Clicquot