Type (Style) Categories
There are four categories within types (styles) of champagne. They are based on a combination of color (hue) and grapes permitted. The four categories include basic, rose', blanc de blancs, and blanc de noirs. This report applies to champagne. Sparkling wine may vary.
- Blanc de Blancs
- Blanc de Noirs
The category referred to as “basic” comprises the majority of all production. Since this category is the largest and the primary classification, the term is implied and does not appear on the label. It can be assumed that if the label does not include the following terms: “rose’ ”, “blanc de blancs”, or “blanc de noirs”, it falls into the “basic” category.
The production process includes minimal skin contact during the production process and is not blended with red wine prior to secondary fermentation, resulting in a white wine (technically straw, yellow or gold). All three grapes (pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier) are allowed in the blend.
Go to our Basic Brut report for a list of popular basic brands.
Rosé is a style that has a pink to salmon color. It is frequently referred to as pink champagne in north America, but the proper term is rose’. In Champagne, rose' is most often made from blending red and white wines to maintain a consistent pink color. Some Champagne Houses use the saignée method where juice is allowed to remain on the dark grape skins for a short period of time in order to retain (bleed off) some of the skin color, giving it the pink hue. The term “rose’ ” will typically be indicated on the bottle’s label for wines in this category.
Go to our Rose' report for a list of available popular rose' brands.
Blanc de Blancs
Blanc de blancs translates “white of whites” and is made exclusively from the chardonnay grape, the only white (light) skinned grape used in champagne. The resulting wine is white (technically straw, yellow, gold). The result tends to be light and elegant, although some fuller bodied expressions do exist. Blanc de blancs is a wonderful aperitif and pairs well with light first courses or hors d’oeuvres. These wines are able to age well. The term “blanc de blancs” will typically be indicated on the bottle’s label for wines in this category.
Go to our Blanc de Blancs report for available popular blanc de blancs brands.
Blanc de Noirs
Blanc de noirs translates “white of blacks”. This is made exclusively from the black (dark) skinned grapes grown in Champagne: pinot noir and pinot meunier. The juice of the grapes is white, but the skins are dark. The juice is pressed off the dark skins before fermentation so the resulting wine is white (again, technically straw, yellow, gold). These are typically full bodied and pair nicely with many main dishes such as pasta and white meats as well as hard aged cheeses. The term “blanc de noirs” will typically be indicated on the bottle’s label for wines in this category.
Go to our Blanc de Noirs report for popular blanc de noirs brands.