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Champagne Day: 96+ point wines to try

To celebrate Champagne Day, we highlight Champagne's exceptional results at the Decanter World Wine Awards, plus the highest-scoring wines...

Champagne needs little introduction, nor does it require a celebratory occasion to pop open, but this Champagne Day we can think of a few exceptional examples worth discovering.

Year after year, results from the Decanter World Wine Awards attest to the quality of Champagne, but the 2021 competition especially, with 31 Gold, nine Platinum and two Best in Show medals awarded.

Of particular note, it’s not often that the expert DWWA judges award 98 points, and at the 2021 competition just 14 out of the 18,094 wines tasted received this top score – three from Champagne. In fact, France’s highest scoring wines all hailed from Champagne, from three different producers and vintages: Champagne Legras & Haas, L.T.S. Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2008, Palmer & Co, Brut 2012 and Piper-Heidsieck, Brut 2014.


Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for the highest scoring Champagnes from the Decanter World Wine Awards


On judging Champagne across seven days of the competition, Regional Chair Simon Field MW commented, ‘I was excited by the overall quality and also by the diversity on offer; we were treated to some superb wines from the magnificent 2012 vintage, just limbering up, and also from 2008, already recognized as a classic.

‘There were also fascinating and rather unusual wines, not only from unsung regions such as the Cote des Bar, but also from the almost forgotten varietals, Pinot Blanc and Arbanne amongst them. Most of the wines, of course, were from the Non Vintage category and their quality was also impressive. One of the reasons for this was that many producers now use the superb 2018 vintage for their base wines. Conversely, however, and somewhat paradoxically, the difficult economic conditions of the last two years have also meant, logically, that some of these wines are getting a little more lees ageing, in itself generally no bad thing. A terrific experience all in all.’

Champagne Day is held annually on the 4th Friday of October, this year on 22nd October. Below discover the 23 highest scoring Champagnes from the 2021 Decanter World Wine Awards, with many more exceptional examples to discover on the DWWA results site here.

Champagne Day: 96+ point wines to try from DWWA 2021

Brut Nature & Extra Brut

Collard-Picard, Archives Extra Brut 2012

Gold, 96 points
80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir
A powerful, expressive style: nougat, poached pear, nectarine and chalk; a classic etching with a fine, linear profile and a long finish that makes the wine memorable.

De Sousa, Cuvée Umami Extra Brut Grand Cru 2012

Gold, 96 points
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir
Spicy oak and brioche aromatics. What a palate though! Cep, truffle and a hint of papaya; broad boned, deliciously ripe; long and persuasive. Very impressive indeed.

Duval-Leroy, Femme Brut Nature 2000

Gold, 96 points
95% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Noir
Lacy and fine on the palate. Elegant acidity drives freshness along with the pronounced citrus and stone fruits. Evolving nicely with more years ahead. Stunning!

Leclerc Briant, Extra Brut 2014

Gold, 96 points
60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay
Honeycomb, brioche, mandarin, papaya and nuts lead the palate experience. Well-integrated acidity lends lift and zest with potential for further development. Lovely grip with pose at the end.

Brut

Legras & Haas, L.T.S. Blanc de Blancs Brut, Grand Cru 2008

Best in Show, 98 points
100% Chardonnay
The classic Blanc de Blancs Champagne our judges selected as Best In Show this year is, like their English sparkling wine choice, one that has been amply aged, and brims with the pleasures of age: a calm, steady mousse; refined aromas in which the fruit, bread and brioche of youth have given way to something deeper, stonier, more grounded in the natural world, the fruits calmed and sublimated, the acid profile rounded and smoothed while retaining all its energy. The 2008 vintage always promised much, though it was one which needed patience. That patience is amply rewarded in this pure, pristine, almost elemental wine.

Palmer & Co, Brut 2012

Platinum, 98 points
54% Chardonnay, 46% Pinot Noir
Nougat, pine nuts, almond and verbena on the nose; grip and a phenolic subtext, slate and stone fruit; rigour and potential tease us with a beguiling persuasion. A complete wine with exceptional length.

Piper-Heidsieck, Brut 2014

Platinum, 98 points
45% Chardonnay, 55% Pinot Noir
Superb! This has a nose of oatmeal, plum , quince and a hit of lanolin; impressive palate weight, good autolytic definition; richly resonant and long. A delight.

Castelnau, Brut 2006

Platinum, 97 points
50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir
Incredible lanolin, quince, summer flower and honeysuckle scents; the palate indulges us further with plums, oranges and guava; spices and minerals hold the attention and the finish is drawn with lapidary care. A true classic.

Charles Heidsieck, Blanc de Blancs Brut NV

Platinum, 97 points
100% Chardonnay
A seductive toasty, ginger and Seville orange nose; plenty of character, plenty of weight and so much elegance, lift and eloquence too; fruit singing here. Lovely balance and weight; pleasing in many different ways. Stunner!

H. Martel, Victoire Brut 2012

Platinum, 97 points
59% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir
Vanillin and coconut bouquet. Seems armoured against age, so youthful too but there is such vinosity and rocky, saline crunch. Oak is evidenced and powerful but will soften with time and allow the wine a fuller, more harmonious expression. Class act.

Piper-Heidsieck, Brut 2012

Platinum, 97 points
48% Chardonnay, 52% Pinot Noir
Charming nose of soft coconut, mango, nectarine and Mirabelle plum. Supremely elegant, yet with grip; voices from the orange grove; an engaging call to arms. Everything is in most excellent order.

Saint-Reol, Elégance Brut Grand Cru 2008

Platinum, 97 points
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay
Kapow! Exceptionally indulgent nose of hazelnut, pistachio and dark chocolate, its oxidative pedigree careless of the rigours of precision, the sheer quality and approachability nearly overwhelming. Some evolution but plenty of acidity to keep the wine exciting and fresh.

Taittinger, Prélude Brut Grands Crus NV

Platinum, 97 points
50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir
A nose of Madagascar vanilla and sweet spice; air opens it up more and then there is a flinty, clean and increasingly seductive subtext; most impressive. In fine shape with a stately and refreshing finish. Glorious stuff!

Vazart-Coquart, Spécial Club Blanc de Blancs, Extra Brut Grand Cru Chouilly 2013

Platinum, 97 points
100% Chardonnay
High order elegance of citrus, plum, mandarin and icing sugar on the nose. The centre is a play of salinity, white chocolate and something like lemon-oil tincture, call it angel juice. Very superior. It grows and grows on you.

Bourdaire Gallois, Brut 2008

Gold, 96 points
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay
Evolved notes of hazelnut, red berry, mushroom and kombu; quite savoury. Sophisticated with an elegant acid line that brings freshness and vivacity. A style that will not appeal to all.

Jacquart, Cuvée Alpha Brut 2010

Gold, 96 points
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir
Orchard fruits, toasted brioche, nuts, cooked apple, pear, lemongrass and honey, all ringing with an urgency across saliva-inducing acidity and a whiff of lemon curd. Profound. Drink sooner rather than later.

Jean Philippe Moulin, Brut 2012

Gold, 96 points
100% Chardonnay
Shimmering mineral and yellow fruits to start, followed by a magnetic texture, linearity and a dark leaf autumnal note towards the end. Classically composed, effortlessly defined. More to come, too.

Maison Mumm, RSRV Cuvée 4.5 Brut Grand Cru NV

Gold, 96 points
60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay
Complex peach, pastry, pear and graphite nose. Mineral and taut; great length and persistence. Reassuring richness and well balanced fruit. A very impressive wine.

Taittinger, Brut 2014

Gold, 96 points
50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir
Attractive nose of oatmeal, white chocolate, plums and verbena; lovely length. Rich and concentrated, the palate is appealingly dextrous, finely balanced and impressive; long and self-assured.

Rosé

Charles Heidsieck, Rosé Réserve, Brut NV

Best in Show, 97 points
43% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier
The pink wave sweeping the wine world at present hasn’t left Champagne behind — but Champagne’s way with pink wine is as distinctive as the rest of its wine offer. You cannot make wines here which are vanishingly pale, petal-pretty and evanescent: there is just too much character, strike and drive on offer in Champagne’s raw materials. There are many great Champagne ripostes to the pink festival of restraint elsewhere, but this salmon-copper rose, with its cavalier autumn fruits and its sheer breadth and audacity of flavour, struck our judges as one of the most memorable. Long, bold flavours subside slowly, vinously and lingeringly in this great gastronomic rose wine.

Maison Mumm, RSRV Foujita Rosé Brut Grand Cru NV

Gold, 96 points
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay
Resplendent nose of mandarins, plum and quince. Filigree bubbles unfold onto an engaging palate with robust acidity and a long finish. A most impressive wine with good ageing potential.

Perrier-Jouët, Belle Epoque Rosé Brut 2012

Gold, 96 points
5% Pinot Meunier, 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir
Light aromas of soft fruits with some yeasty overtones. Impressive palate of red berries with some biscuit notes and a cranberry finish. Will age gracefully. All here, all in good shape.

Veuve Clicquot, Rosé Brut 2012

Gold, 96 points
51% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier
Striking nose of white pepper, strawberry and red berries. Lovely orange fruit character, spicy grip, salinity and length. It’s superb now; it’ll be even better in a year or four. Bravo!


Search all DWWA 2021 results for Champagne


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