Can you tell your Classic, from your Blanc de Blancs or your Blanc de Noirs? If not, and labels confuse you, here’s what it means in black and white.
Most English Sparkling Wine – just like most Champagnes – are made from the three famous grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Of course, other grape varieties are permitted both in England and in Champagne, but these three grape varieties are the firm favourites. Apart from Sparkling Rosé or Sparkling Red most English Sparkling Wine is white. This is extraordinary because some of it is made from black grapes. Confused? The black grapes are pressed so gently that the skins don’t colour the wine. Only about 70% of the grape from the middle of each grape is used.
So a ‘Classic’ Sparkling wine is made up of all three grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
A ‘Blanc de Blancs’ (literally ‘white from white’) is a white wine from white grapes. It is 100% Chardonnay.
A ‘Blanc de Noirs’ (literally white from black)- you’ve guessed it, is a white wine from black grapes. It comes from Pinot Noir or from Pinot Meunier.
Even though the grapes are very gently pressed, the flavours of a Blanc de Blanc and a Blanc de Noirs are very different. A Blanc de Blancs is clean and crisp, with a fresh zing, subtle minerality and often pronounced brioche notes from prolonged bottle lees ageing. Its an angular, elegant, well-groomed lady, with a certain seriousness, whose heels clip stone floors. Whereas a Blanc de Noirs is fruitier, fuller and well rounded. This softer, richer hedonist would be louchely draped on a velvet sofa, incautiously indulging in every delight.
Both are utterly delicious. It just depend on your mood. If you get the chance to taste them side by side, Carpe Vinum. Drawing a Blanc can be positively delightful.