Which champagne to buy? A guide to discovering champagne.


We are often asked this simple question that doesn’t really have a simple answer. We get it. Where do you start? It is a little daunting if you’re new to champagne or have only had it on special occasions.

In this guide, you'll find guidance on which champagne to buy in these sections:

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Champagne vs. Sparkling

Firstly, let’s start your champagne journey with correct usage of terms.

Contrary to how a lot of people use the name, champagne only refers to sparkling wine that has been produced in the Champagne region in France. There are strict laws in place surrounding this regulation that protect the grape growers, winemakers and entire champagne industry. They are very protective of their wines as it accounts for a lot of their trade and economy.

This drink is also one of the most famous in the world - with fame comes great responsibility!

Other sparkling wines that commonly get referred to as champagne include:

  • Prosecco (Italy)
  • Cava (Spain)
  • Australian Sparkling
  • Cremant (France)
  • Sekt (Germany)
  • American Sparkling

Did you know there are over 240 different Champagne labels imported into Australia out of 50,000 in the region? That’s a whole lot of bubbly!

Australia is also the fastest growing market for champagne out of the top ten in the world, ranking as the 7th largest champagne market in the world.

 

The World of Champagne

There is so much more to champagne than just the big brands lining the shelves at your local bottle-o. Different styles and vintages produced from varying types of houses and growers allow champagne to take on a range of tastes and styles that cater to the many different preferences of consumers. So if you or someone you know have tried champagne and think “I don’t like it,” we dare you to give it another go - there’s bound to be something that tickles your fancy!

So the question still stands; which champagne do I buy? We hear you! Here is a champagne guide to point you in the right direction of the champagnes we think you’ll love and perhaps open your mind to others that may peak your interest.

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“Which champagne should I buy?”

Which champagne you choose to buy at any particular time will be influenced by quite a lot of things. So we’ve outlined these below to help you choose the perfect champagne for you.

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By style & taste

Do you have a particular style of champagne you enjoy? You would have seen the different styles displayed on bottles and heard people talking about them but have no idea what any of them mean! Not to worry, let us give you a crash course on champagne stylers and tastes.

You Like Dry Champagne? Check out BRUT CHAMPAGNE.

This is the most popular style of champagne. Created in the 1800s by the trailblazers of champagne (Perrier-Jouet and Pommery) who decided to add little or no dosage (sugar) to their wines after the second fermentation. This was world’s apart from the trend of 200 grams added per litre at the time.

Today the term ‘brut’ signifies that the winemaker has added less than 12 grams per litre. The category represents close to 90% of all champagnes available in Australia. These should taste dry with no perception of sweetness. This style is incredibly versatile in terms of pairing, matching well to a range of cuisines from oysters to game.

Try:

De Sousa Brut Tradition

  • Golden colour with flavours of white peach, pear and stone fruit
  • 50% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier and 40% Pinot noir providing notes of juicy red fruit
  • 3 years aged with 40% reserve wines
  • Read our Behind the Maison De Sousa blog

Charles Heidsieck Reserve Brut

  • Perfect for beginning your champagne journey
  • Excellent pairing with richer foods like roast pork or red meat
  • Layers of complex flavours including grapefruit, banana bread and spice
  • 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot noir

Are you more of a sweet tooth? Check out DEMI-SEC CHAMPAGNE.

The wine to go for if you love a sweeter style drink is a sec or demi-sec. Sec in French literally means dry, but in Champagne it refers to a champagne with a dosage level between 17 and 35 grams of sugar per litre.

Demi-sec, translating to half-dry, is a sweeter style again, containing a dosage of between 33 and 50 grams of sugar per litre.

Try:

A. Margaine Demi Sec

  • Notes of fresh apricot and bright yellow fruit
  • 30g dosage
  • Chardonnay dominant wine
  • Villers-Marmery Maison now in its 4th generation of winemakers

Besserat de Bellefon Cuvée des Moines Sec

  • Dosage is 20g sugar per litre
  • Hits the perfect balance of sweetness-acidity similar to that of apple compote, lemon curd or peach crumble.
  • Can be enjoyed purely as an aperitif or with lighter fruit pastries and desserts.

Want a wine that’s bone dry? Check out EXTRA BRUT or BRUT NATURE.

Extra brut champagne is even drier than brut (as the name suggests!) and must contain no more than six grams of sugar per litre. It can sometimes contain none at all, in which case they are usually labelled as brut nature or non-dosé.

Dosage is just one aspect. It also features longer ageing in the cellars (typically 3-5 years) and use of excellent quality fruit that has ripened perfectly. Ripeness in the fruit means that there is no need to add much 'dosage' as they have achieved it in the vineyards through biological means.

The makers of this wine are focused on revealing the natural qualities of the fruit, allowing it to shine through without "covering it" with any sugar.

Try:

    Laurent Perrier Brut Nature

    • Bright and aromatic on the nose with citrus notes, white peach and florals.
    • A great illustration of how to achieve great expression from the vineyards without masking it with sugar
    • 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot noir.
    • Aged for a minimum of 6 years

    Benoit Lahaye Brut Nature

    • Biodyamic producer from Bouzy
    • Vinous nose filled with blueberry, damson plum and a freshly baked filo pastry vibe. 
    • 90% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay
    • 0g dosage (no added sugar)

    Benoit Marguet Shaman 15 Grand Cru Extra Brut

    • 100% Biodynamic producer
    • The palate is light with a refined mousse giving way to some earthy and nutty tones as it warms up in the mouth. 
    • 66% Pinot Noir, 44% Chardonnay
    • Sulphur Free, Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly. 

      Is Chardonnay your go-to wine? Check out BLANC DE BLANCS CHAMPAGNE.

      Do you usually head to the chardonnay section in a restaurant’s wine list? Do you always have a bottle of chardonnay ready in your fridge after those long work days? Blanc de blancs champagne is the champagne for you! Made from 100% chardonnay, this style is some of the purest in taste, aroma, appearance and is simply sensational as a refreshing aperitif.

      Try:

      Henriot Blanc de Blancs NV

      • 100% Chardonnay, 4 to 5 years ageing and 40% reserve wine
      • Creamy, generous and powerful on the palate. The hint of fresh lemon lingers and dissolves into butter-laced brioche notes, extended further by quince paste and acacia honey. 
      • Family owned champagne house established in 1808

      Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs

      • One of the first champagne houses to produce blanc de blancs
      • Fresh and full-bodied wine
      • Described as sharp rather than creamy

      La Rogerie La Grande Vie Blanc de Blancs

      • Boutique champagne house based in Avize, Cote des Blancs
      • Lifted yellow fruit, rich leesy character with notes of freshly baked croissant.
      • Organic, little dosage and small quantities (498 bottles)

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      By Occasion

      Have a special occasion coming up? Stuck on gift ideas? Celebrate in style with a bottle of premium champagne. Whether its a dinner party, a special birthday or you’re throwing a night of nights, we have the right champagne to suit all occasions.

      Dining Event

      Not only is rosé spectacular in taste, smell and looks, it’s simply sensational with food. Next time you are going to a dinner party and you don’t know what's on the menu, be a great guest and take a bottle of rosé champagne.

      How does rosé get that gorgeous rosy hue, you ask? There are two methods that determine which 50 shades of pink will be produced in each bottle. The first is rosé de saignée, which means to bleed, a process which involves macerating the juice on the grape skins in order to impart colour.

      The second is rosé d'assemblage - the blending of white and red wine. Neither one is better than the other – they are just different, catering to all wine lovers.

      Try:

      Charles Collin Rosé (Rosé d'Assemblage)

      • This is a fun, bright and energetic style of rosé
      • 100% Pinot Noir with 10% still Pinot Noir addition
      • The nose is filled with notes of fresh raspberry, pink grapefruit and tangy pomegranate. On the palate, the vinosity of this wine is offset by freshness of wild strawberries, and delicate red fruits.

        Gosset Grand Brut Rosé (Rosé d'Assemblage)

        • 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay
        • Fresh and delicate with the nose leaning more towards light red florals, redcurrants, strawberry and some spice
        • The vibrant acidity, juicy cherry fruit and little bite from the tannin makes this excellent for food pairing

        Laurent-Perrier Brut Cuvée Rosé (Rosé de Saignée)

        • 100% Pinot Noir
        • Made using the maceration method - 48hr to 72hr skin contact only
        • This oozes class, elegance and one of the most important rosés of its time.
        • Tastes of lots of lively berry fruits, redcurrant and blood orange

         

        Gifting - Wedding, Birthday, Christmas

        Vintage champagne is the ultimate gift to surprise someone with and mark a great occasion. A vintage in Champagne is only created in a good year. What classifies a champagne as a vintage is that 100% of the fruit must come from one year’s harvest and the wine needs to be aged in the winemaker’s cellars with the yeast inside the bottle (lees) for a minimum of three years, but very often it is substantially longer. A vintage is generally the maison’s best champagne in their range, making it the best option for the best gift!

        Try:

        Laurent Perrier Millésime 2008

        Rare vintage exclusive to Emperor Exclusive blend of 50% Grands Crus Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs and 50% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims Perfect wine to pair with crab linguine, hapuka fillet with steamed vegetables or a range of sushi

        Drappier Millésime Exception 2015

        • One of the oldest and most prominent houses in Champagne with little to no sulphur across the range
        • 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
        • A very complex, rich nose revealing hints of fresh ginger, stone fruit and almond. In the mouth it is lightly creamy with good tightness and a suggestion of brioche.
        • Organic Champagne from Cote des Bar

        Louis Roederer Cristal 2012

        • Rare cuvee from prestigious champagne house
        • 100% Biodynamically farmed fruit
        • 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
        • Expect aromas of fresh almond, red cherry, white peach, lemon and crisp orchard fruit. Patisserie and white florals also unfurl leaving the mouth watering with it's persistent chalkiness and vivacious mineral intensity.
        • Keep a few years in cellars. Perfect wedding gift!

        Throwing a party?

        Need something to cater for a large group of people with a variety of tastes? Stock up with these and give your guests a guaranteed good time.

        Try:

        Charles Collin Brut

        • Stunning champagne still affordable
        • Pinot noir dominant blend
        • Flavours of peach, red apple, brioche and pear
        • Exclusive to Emperor

        Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV

        • The signature blend of Champagne Louis Roederer
        • Fresh, rich and elegant brut
        • 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir blend aged 3 years in cellars

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          By Champagne Brand

          Have you got a love for a particular producer of champagne? Do you love Grande Marques or are you more inclined to go for a smaller, grower house? We know that many people hold a brand close to their heart. Whether it’s the cuvées, the story of the brand or you may even have a fond memory involving a specific brand of champagne.

          Try:

          Veuve Clicquot

          Arguably, the most recognisable Champagne brand in the world. The Yellow adorned on their labels is in fact the colour of the great Madame Clicquots’ favourite duck’s yolk. An established and major segment of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Stable, the Cellar Master, Monsieur Dominique Demarville, is only the 10th in 240 years at the great house.

          Billecart-Salmon

          One of the leading families of Champagne, this medium sized, high quality domain is one to be admired. Billecart-Salmon (pronounced beel-kahr sahl-moh) has a fresh, clean and elegant style.

          The absolutely pristine winemaking facilities located in Mareuil-Sur-Ay are overseen by multiple generations of the family as well as chief winemaker Francois Domi. Every step of the winemaking process at the house is artful, right down to the precision of the dosage which is unique for every disgorgement conducted in batches.

          Drappier

          The Drappier family has been making wine since 1808, in the small village of Urville in the Côte des Bar. With an annual production of some 1.5 million bottles, they are considerably larger than a small grower, but not quite the size of the Grande Marques in Reims and Epernay. An interesting historical fact is that Charles de Gaulle (the Former Minister of the Armed Forces in France) was very fond of their Champagne and they named a cuvée after him.

          By Champagne Bottle Size

          Did you know champagne comes in a variety of sizes with a variety of names - most of them coming from the names of Biblical kings!

          Mini Champagne Bottles

          Smaller than your average 750ml standard bottle. The minis are easy to carry around and fit in your bag, making excellent party favours, picnic refreshments and fantastic accompaniments to any night out!

          Try:

          Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Piccolo (187ml)

          Elegance, freshness and purity Top 5 selling champagne in the world you can carry with you Put an Emperor sipper in the top and you’re set!

          Philipponnat Royale Réserve (375ml)

          Also known as a ‘half-bottle’ - bigger than a piccolo Flavours of spiced apple and caramel from being oak barrel aged An impressive yet underrated house

          Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial Mini (187ml) World famous champagne brand Super simple gift idea Pair with a straw and a picnic hamper

          Big Bottles

          Why have a standard champagne bottle when you could have a BIG bottle? Bigger bottles translate to more champagne and better champagne due to less air exposed to the wine. They can still offer excellent value, due to more glasses per champagne. Plus they lend a sense of drama to any event!

          Try:

          Bollinger Special Cuvée in Magnum 1.5L

          Iconic cuvée well-known in James Bond Pinot dominant style with generous reserve wines added (up to 60%) Impress your guests by bringing out this big bottle to share at a dinner party

          Pol Roger White Foil Jeroboam 3L

          3 litres of champagne - the ultimate entertainer World renowned and highly regarded rosé champagne Savoury style of rosé with loads of freshness

          Perfect for large celebrations (or to keep it for yourself) White foiled staple of Sir Winston Churchill and many other British nobles and royals Compelling champagne made with all three grapes

          Other larger champagne sizes we can source include:

          • Methuselah (6 litres)
          • Salmanazar (9 litres)
          • Balthazar (12 litres)
          • Nebuchadnezzar (15 litres). Shop all big bottles or send an email to maud@emperorchampagne.com.au to enquire about a special bottle. 

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          By Price

          Have a budget in mind? Let us steer you in the right champagne direction so you don’t break the bank.

          CHAMPAGNE UNDER $70

          Try:

          G.H. Mumm Cordon Rouge Brut NV $59.95

          -Non-vintage cuvee which is instantly recognisable. An affordable champagne welcome at any party.

          Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label $73.99

          -Accessible champagne that caters to many different tastes. Arguably one of the most famous brands in the world

          Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Réserve Exclusive $69.95

          • No.1 selling champagne house in France. peritif style champagne, perfect for all occasions. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay.

          CHAMPAGNE $70-$150

          Try:

          Charles Collin Brut Rosé $89.95

          -Bright and energetic style of rosé Notes of raspberry, pink grapefruit and pomegranate

          Frerejean Freres Cuvée de l’Empereur $119.95

          -All Grand Cru fruit. Drink with people that love champagne!

          De Sousa Reserve Blanc de Blancs $119.00

          -100% Chardonnay from Grand Cru Avize. Exclusive to Emperor

          Louis Roederer Vintage Rosé 2014 $124.95

          - Prestigious champagne house. Vintage Rosé. 

          CHAMPAGNE $150-200

          Try:

          Charles Heidsieck Vintage 2005 $179

          - Fantastic vintage champagne, showing the warmth of this harvest year. Pair this with a cheese souffle or a pumpkin and parmesan risotto

          Gosset Blanc de Noirs $184.99

          - 100% pinot noir champagne and highly regarded house across the globe.

            CHAMPAGNE $200-$300

            Bollinger La Grande Année 2012 $269.95

            Prestige vintage of Grande Marque Bollinger. Exquisite champagne, Emperor's fav. 

            Dom Pérignon Vintage 2010 $295.00

            Iconic champagne known the world over this is the Vintage 2010. 8 years ageing in Dom Pérignon cellars. Divine gift. 

             

              Conclusion - which champagne to buy?

              As you can see, we at Emperor have many champagnes that cater to all sorts of tastes, budgets and styles! We hope this guide has helped you consider what you might like to drink - or gift - next. We're always happy to provide more personal advice, via phone or chat on our website.

              Order online today or feel free to pop by our warehouse during business hours in Sandringham, Victoria to check out our extensive range in person.

              Think Champagne. Think Emperor.