I am pleased to finally be able to tell you that my new website, champagneguide.net, is now live. It is the product of countless hours of interviews, tastings, vineyard wanderings, cellar visits, analysis and writing over the past year, drawing as well upon over ten years of previous experiences in the Champagne region, and while my labor has by no means been lacking in pleasure, I am happy to be able to unveil the results nevertheless.
The site features profiles of over 100 champagne producers, along with tasting notes for nearly 600 champagnes currently on the market. While the Champagne region boasts over 5,000 registered brands, I have made a selection of those houses and estates that I feel to be the most significant and the most interesting in terms of quality. In addition, I wish to highlight the vast diversity of champagne, and in these pages you will find comments on large négociant houses, tiny grower estates and everything else in between—Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot are represented, but at the other end of the spectrum, so are Cédric Bouchard, Jérôme Prévost and Marie-Noëlle Ledru, and many others besides.
In general, the site is arranged by producer—unlike most wine guides, which focus heavily on tasting notes and point scores, offering abbreviated information (and oftentimes none at all) on the producers themselves, my champagne guide focuses on profiling these houses and estates in detail, in the belief that the more informed you are about where the wine comes from and how it is grown and made, the better you will understand and appreciate what it is you are drinking. The profiles are each divided into two sections: the first is a general overview of the producer, and the second is a personal analysis of the house and its wines, based on my experiences over the years. Together with the profiles of each producer are, of course, individual tasting notes on each of their champagnes, and the notes themselves are also separately searchable.
Naturally, I will be adding more champagne producers to the site as time goes on, as well as continually updating both profiles and tasting notes throughout the course of the year. The purpose of ChampagneGuide.net is to be a living, breathing organism, not a static piece of text, and as a foreign wine critic living full-time in the Champagne region, I am uniquely positioned to be able to develop its content in a dynamic and time-sensitive manner: first, the fact that I live here allows me to taste more widely, and much more frequently, than my champagne-writing colleagues do who live elsewhere in the world; and second, the fact that I am a foreigner and an independent wine writer, without ties to any kind of production or business of champagne, allows me to move freely between various houses and estates in a way that not everyone who lives here is necessarily able to do. I taste constantly, visiting most of the featured producers multiple times a year, and I have tasted most of the wines for this guide multiple times, watching them progress over time. As I continue to taste newly-released wines or revisit wines already on the market, I will keep you informed about them through this site.
My tasting notes are not intended to be a historical reference, and you will not find notes on older vintages here, unless they have been recently re-released by the house and are currently available for sale. (For tasting notes on older champagnes, I suggest that you read Richard Juhlin’s book, 4000 Champagnes.) The practical purpose of my tasting notes is to inform you of wines currently on release and available for purchase, and the website format of my guide allows for the publication of up-to-date information in a way that no conventional book or other printed material is able to keep up with.
A subscription is required to enter the site: it is currently priced at US$89 for an entire year of access (approximately the price of a single bottle of vintage champagne in many markets). For subscribers in countries other than the United States, this is approximately the equivalent of €67, £62, ¥8700 or $128AUD as of today, 29 March. ChampagneGuide.net is currently written only in English, although future translation into other languages remains a possibility.
Enjoy the site, and as always, any comments that you have are welcome. Santé!
Click here to visit ChampagneGuide.net