I was speaking with Denis Velut of Champagne Jean Velut in Montgueux yesterday, and he said something that I found rather curious. We were tasting his 2000 millésime, which is 100-percent chardonnay—in the past he used to add about 20 percent of pinot noir to his vintage brut, but since 1999 he's begun making it exclusively from chardonnay, as chardonnay is rightfully the emblematic grape variety of the Montgueux area.
The label of this wine, however, still says Brut Cuvée Millésime, with no mention of blanc de blancs anywhere. When I asked him about this, he replied, "The name blanc de blancs doesn't have very good connotations. People in France associate it with crémant, and think of blanc de blancs as cheap sparkling wine."
I was quite surprised by this, as I doubt that people in export markets think of blanc de blancs that way at all. It seems to me, in fact, that it's the reverse—names such as Salon, Selosse, Larmandier-Bernier and Diebolt-Vallois have helped to give blanc de blancs a terrifically high level of prestige, even more so than other styles. Many wine lovers I know declare blanc de blancs to be their favorite style of champagne.
What do you think? Do you have a particular response one way or another to the term blanc de blancs? For those of you who are French, does blanc de blancs have any negative connotations for you?