We call them label drinkers, behind this mocking nickname hide champagne lovers who swear by the brand they drink.
Peel off the label of a Cristal Roederer and replace it with that of a less famous champagne producer and immediately they will find the champagne less fine, elegant month, well worked month.
In short, for them the quality of the bottle is intrinsically linked to the prestige of its packaging. A common attitude, which has two complementary explanations. The first is simply due to the fact that in front of a shelf or an Internet site offering dozens of different cuvées, and for lack of advice, many customers will go for a known name, a reassuring label.
Serve or offer a bottle of Bollinger, Billecart-Salmom or Veuve Clicquot, it is the assurance of not making a mistake or in any case of not being sharply criticized by his friends for this “unknown champagne”. Because champagne is synonymous with prestige and luxury, and what could be more luxurious than a great brand whose prices everyone knows ?
The quality and the price : But all true champagne lovers will tell you, it is by going off the beaten track, and moving away from the houses which forge and maintain their notoriety with great publicity in the magazines that we discover nuggets that offer both quality and price. Because the gap between an independent champagne producer and a big house often goes from simple to double.
You can find excellent Brut without year for less than 20 euros from the winegrowers, when you have to leave at least 35 euros to afford the vintage of a great house. Take the Sainte Apolline cuvée from the Leclaire-Thiéfaine house, sold for 19.95 euros, it is one of the finest, most ethereal and most elegant champagnes that we can find at the moment. Another cuvée unearthed and tested: the Brut Tradition from the widow house Reuther.
Do not be fooled by its unspecified label, nor its master name. Behind the 15 euros that this bottle costs lies a fruity, lively cuvée, full of freshness and gluttony. The kind of champagne that wakes up a cocktail and amazes the guests, surprises not to know this good plan! As the amateurs say: you don't have to be a big house to offer a great champagne.
Producer versus marketer : There is no question of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
You can find excellent cuvées in the great houses, but it is often by going upmarket that we discover them. With a few exceptions, it is often good to ignore the Brut Sans Years from the great houses to focus on prestigious vintages.
Here we find magnificent champagnes, offering everything we can expect from these great brands. But here again, by turning to independent champagne producers, we unearth beautiful wonders. As for vintage vintages, we can cite without hesitation the 2003 Egly-Ouriet vintage, the 2005 Francis Boulard vintage, or the 2006 vintage of Fabrice Pouillon.
Going upmarket, it is the Fleur de Passion Diebolt-Vallois, Caudalies from the house De Sousa or even Les Rachais by Francis Boulard which never ceases to amaze.
This latest cuvée was also named among the five best of the decade by the famous Revue du Vin de France, the undisputed reference and true bible for amateurs.
It is accompanied by another winegrower's champagne, a cuvée signed by the house Jacques Selosse, and by big names in champagne: Krug, Roederer and Bollinger. Proof if it were necessary that the producers of champagne no longer have to blush in the shade of the omnipresent and indispensable big houses.