Blanc de Blancs Champagne

Chardonnay based Champagne


Blanc de Blancs is a French phrase meaning “White of Whites” and Blanc de blancs Champagne is made of 100% Chardonnay, a white grape, as opposed to Pinot Noir and Pinor Meunier, considered black grapes. In reality the Champagne is white to a light yellow and Chardonnay grapes are light green.

Perhaps only five percent of all Champagnes made are Blanc de blancs, and they have been made for less than a century as opposed to about three centuries for Champagne in general. The first produced was by Salon in 1921.

Some of the best Champagnes in the world are Blanc de blancs, including Salon who makes nothing else, Krug’s superlative Clos du Mesnil, and Deutz Amour de Deutz, a notch below the first two certainly but also fantastic. These are all vintage wines although there are also plenty of NV wines produced as well.

Blanc de blancs are lighter in general than traditional Champagnes, but can age extremely well. Some, like Salon, demand aging in order to show well. I like to give the vintage wines 10 years or so to peak, but often I cannot wait that long. Some marginal years for vintage Champagnes in general can be superb for Blanc de blancs. For example 1993 was not a great vintage and many producers bottled it as a (mediocre) vintage primarily for the millennium celebrations as there was a supposed Champagne shortage people worried about. However many 1993 Blanc de blancs, for example Deutz Amour de Deutz, were great.

Most Blanc de blancs (other than some massive full bodied ones like Salon, Krug Clos du Mesnil, and Taittinger Comtes de Champagne) are ideal aperitif wines as they are light and elegant. They are great by themselves or with light appetizers or first courses like seafood.

Some excellent and reasonably prices ones include the Deutz Blanc de blancs, Guy Charlemagne Cuvee Charlemagne Grand Cru Bland de blancs, Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs d’Ay Brut and Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs de Chardonnay. They do tend to be slightly more expensive than other Champagnes as Chardonnay is an expensive grape variety. It’s interesting that some well known producers do not make one, including Moet and Chandon, Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin, Bollinger, and Laurent-Perrier.

Actually there are some ancient grape varieties allowed in Champagne that are not commonly used nor known. These include Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Arbane, and a very few producers make a Blanc de blanc that contains white grapes other than Chardonnay. One example is Drappier, whose Quattuor Blanc de Quatre Blancs is made of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier and Arbane.