Our Score: 92
Leclerc Briant, the “David” of our “David and Goliath” story, is a producer from Epernay, the same village in the Champagne wine region where the “Goliath”—
Moet & Chandon—has its headquarters. Briant’s rosé is far more interesting than many mass-market Champagnes, and it is great for lovers of bone-dry sparkling wines, with cutting crispiness, fruit and bakery aromas. Its bubbles are fine and not overwhelming, and its finish is long, with a persistent note of tropical fruit and fragrant brioche.
Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
Pairing: Oysters, caviar, salmon roe, raw fish, sea urchin, lobster, shrimps. Think of the ocean and you get it. But this rosé is also good with paté tartines or—my favorite—Champagne risotto, with thinly sliced sea scallops and dill.
Appellation: Champagne AOC, France
Champagne AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlée) is an appellation of sparkling wines rigidly defined by three elements:
1. The grapes need to be grown and vinified in the specific geographical area East of Paris, between Reims, Epernay and la Vallée de la Marne.
2. Grapes can only be Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier;
3. The fermentation method is in 2 phases: the wine is first fermented in large tanks then filtered before undergoing a second fermentation in the bottle for as many years as the winemaker decides. The best champagne stays on the yeast in the bottle for as much as 7-10 years before being put on the market.
More than 300 million bottles of Champagne are produced every year in an area of 34,000 hectares (roughly 85,000 acres).
Interesting anecdote: Wines that use the same vinification method (a second fermentation in the bottle) BUT are grown and vinified in French regions other than Champagne (or elsewhere in the world beyond France), cannot be named Champagne. In France they are called Crèmant de… followed by the region of origin; in Italy they are called Metodo Classico (Franciacorta DOCG, Trento DOC); in Spain they are called Cava, from the region of origin.