The best Champagnes of 2021


After a blind tasting of nearly 200 samples for database Champagne Masters at the start of the year, we are offering you the best vintages of 2021, between illustrious names and little-known labels, as well as all styles from brut nature to blanc de blancs.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 34%, Chardonnay 33%, Meunier 33%
  • Style: Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 36

This slightly under the radar entry point of a Champagne house is a fine example of Brut NV in a dry but fruity style. Using in equal parts the three main grape varieties of Champagne, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Meunier, it has lots of flavor, from ripe apple to strawberry and citrus, with some appealing notes of honey and brioche, before to finish on a sharp and clean point.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 34%, Chardonnay 33%, Meunier 33%
  • Style: Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 38

The largest Brut NV champagne in the world is also one of the best, achieving some of the best scores in its category in this year’s competition. Appreciated for its flavors of fresh fruit, from apple to raspberry and lemon, and its lightly breaded and chalky notes, it was considered a manual of Champagne taste at a relatively affordable price.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Chardonnay 55%, Pinot Noir 35%, Meunier 10%
  • Style: Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 35

Taking its name from the first pressing in Champagne, called La Cuvée, this Brut NV from Laurent-Perrier is a fine example of its category, clean and fresh, but with lots of breaded characteristics from aging in contact with the lees of the wine. The flavors range from a smoky toasted note of grapefruit and lemon zest, with chalk dust and cream, in a sparkling and refined style.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Chardonnay 40%, Pinot Noir 30%, Meunier 30%
  • Style: Extra Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 35

Here is a great example of very dry champagne on a budget. Costing around £ 35, it’s a relatively affordable entry point for a non-vintage extra brut, meaning it contains less than 6g / l of sugar. In terms of taste, the champagne is not harsh, but clean, bright and precise, with a tangy citrus hint, with some ripe apples to compensate for the freshness, and lingering nutty notes.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 55%, Chardonnay 45%
  • Style: Raw Vintage
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 60

Another wonder is the latest vintage version of Piper-Heidsieck. From the 2014 harvest – a good if not exceptional year in Champagne – it has the distinctive characteristics of this producer, mixing a lively and lively character with masses of smoky, nutty and ripe toasted notes from a long aging period. So, expect plenty of toasted hazelnuts, to make a richly scented yet wonderfully refreshing glass of sparkling wine.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 52%, Chardonnay 48%
  • Style: Raw Vintage
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 60

For those who love Piper-Heidsieck’s expressions of the vintage as much as we do, it will be a welcome relief to know that his Champagne from the 2012 bumper harvest is still on the market. One of the top-rated cuvées from this year’s Masters, it’s a delicious combination of gun smoke and toast, toasted nuts and lemon zest, with a lingering chalky hint to dry the palate ready for a another sip.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Chardonnay 50%, Pinot Noir 45%, Meunier 5%
  • Style: Raw Vintage
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 60

As all the professionals of the Champagne trade will tell you, Palmer – which is a cooperative bringing together a selection of leading winegrowers – produces some of the most advantageous vintages in the region, with this magnificent 2012 vintage in the lead. The characters here are complementary and mouthwatering, with ripe red apple, fresh grapefruit, cream and bread, then a smoky side, like toast, adding an extra layer of interest.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grapes: Chardonnay 100%
  • Style: Extra Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 90

This, the latest take on the relatively new house Champagne Frerejean Frères, is a pure Chardonnay from fine vineyards in the Côte de Blancs, and although it seems pricey at £ 90 a bottle, it is made from certain one of the region’s most prized grapes, and aged for at least seven years in the winery’s cellars before release. Stylistically, it’s fresh and extremely dry, but has plenty of ripe fruit, pear and pineapple, pink grapefruit richness, and a creamy coffee character too, before ending with a lingering chalky feel – it even seems to grab. the palace.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grapes: Chardonnay 100%
  • Style: Blanc de Blancs, Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 50

This pure Chardonnay champagne is made from great vintages of the highly prized Côte des Blancs, so it is not surprising that the result is excellent. Made by the relatively little-known producer Albert Lebrun, it has the signature of a delicious Blanc de Blancs, with notes of pineapple and lemon, a touch of butter, cream, hazelnut and chalk.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 100%
  • Style: Vintage, Blanc de Noirs, Brut Nature
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 75

This is a fascinating and first-rate specialist champagne from the beautiful house of Joseph Perrier. Using only Pinot Noir, this Blanc de Noirs comes from a Premier Cru parcel in the village of Cumières. It’s also a vintage expression – from the big harvest of 2012 – and a raw character, which means there is no added sugar. In terms of taste, Champagne is a brilliant example of pure Champagne Pinot, with notes of raspberry and ripe apple, with a touch of fresh pastry and a chalky feel on the very dry finish.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 60%, Chardonnay 20%, Meunier 20%,
  • Style: Brut NV rosé
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 40

Champagne now serves a wide range of styles of Brut NV rosé, but Piper-Heidsieck is a benchmark for quality. With its Wild Rosé you get a touch of red fruit and cherry from the pinot-based wine used to give this wine its fairly deep pink appearance, but after that comes all the delicious flavors of fine Champagne, fresh apple. and citrus zest to toast and hazelnut, followed by a lingering chalky and dry finish.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 37%, Chardonnay 32%, Meunier 31%
  • Style: Brut NV rosé
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 50

This pale salmon-colored sparkling wine from Pommery offers a refreshing and pretty take on pink champagne, offering notes of wild strawberry, fresh apple and freshly baked baguette, making it a delicate and very drinkable rosé.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grapes: Chardonnay 100%
  • Style: Cuvée Prestige, Blanc de Blancs, Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 105

If you like your Champagne full of flavors, richness and character reminiscent of the great white Burgundies, then this is the prestige cuvée for you. It is made up of wines from the great 2008 and 2009 vintages, made from vintage Côtes des Blancs Chardonnay grapes dating from 1926 – hence the name VV26 (Vieilles Vignes de 1926). As a result, it’s a bubbly with lots of fruit and character, and, because the base wines have undergone a seven-month aging in oak barrels, there is a creamy complexity as well. Put it all together, and it’s a layered and structured champagne, with notes of yellow fruit, chalk and citrus, followed by nuts and brioche, with vanilla and beeswax, before finish dry and tangy, as well as gently tannic – an attractive trait that helps refresh the palate.

  • Medal: Master
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 50%, Chardonnay 50%
  • Style: Cuvée Prestige, Brut NV
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 80

One of the striking discoveries of this year’s blind tasting was the radiance of the expression of GH Mumm’s prestigious cuvée, the Lalou cuvée. Currently from the 2006 harvest, this is a magnificent and mature glass of sparkling seriousness, using seven grands crus to produce a Champagne with flavors ranging from honey and dried apricot, to freshly baked croissants, wood smoke and a touch of citrus zest on the finish. And, at £ 80, it’s the best-value ‘Master’ winner in this year’s competition.

  • Medal: Gold
  • Grape varieties: Pinot Noir 50%, Chardonnay 45%, Meunier 5%
  • Style: Cuvée Prestige, Brut Vintage
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 175

The best expression of Perrier-Jouët – the Belle Epoque with the beautifully packaged name – is always a good glass of sparkling wine, but this year it was particularly good, perhaps because it was made from the best grapes of a particularly beautiful vintage: 2012. The result is a Champagne full of excitement for the palate, candied lemon with dried apple, a touch of honey, then lingering notes of toast and hazelnut, even a touch of roasted coffee , followed by citrus zest and chalk at the end.

  • Medal: Master
  • Grape varieties: Chardonnay 70%, Pinot Noir 30%
  • Style: Cuvée Prestige, Brut Vintage
  • Price (approximate UK retail price): £ 200

There are few better bottles of fizz than Rare, and the 2008 vintage lives up to the best. This, the latest expression of the prestige cuvée uniquely derived from Piper-Heidsieck is still quite strained in style, despite its age, showing notes of freshly struck matches, lemon zest and chalk, but there is also depth in the champagne, with additional flavors of creamy coffee, hazelnuts and a touch of yellow fruit. A deliciously complex and refreshing glass with a very fine sparkle.

About Michael Brafford

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