We ship directly some of the very best wines from the Champagne region.
Champagne is very close to our hearts. A beautiful region in northern France where the world’s greatest sparkling wines are crafted using incredible alchemy. The two key meeting points are Épernay & Reims. Épernay is by far
We ship directly some of the very best wines from the Champagne region.
Champagne is very close to our hearts. A beautiful region in northern France where the world’s greatest sparkling wines are crafted using incredible alchemy. The two key meeting points are Épernay & Reims. Épernay is by far the smaller but boasts some of the very best names and of course the wonderfully named Avenue de Champagne. Reims the cathedral down is bustling and thrilling and is must visit destination. We urge you to plan a trip, first stop Paris, jump on the TGV for an hour and a half and you are there!
The crafting of Champagne is a complicated and enthralling process and well worth while researching. At its simplest the base wine made typically from a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. It is said that the Pinot Noir gives the wine power, Chardonnay gives the wine elegance and the Pinot Meunier fruit. Interestingly you will encounter blanc de blancs which are renowned for their elegance and are made 100% from the Chardonnay grape. The base wine is then bottled with the addition of a liqueur de tirage which starts a secondary fermentation in the bottle which resulting in textural and flavour changes to the wine plus the generation of carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide is a bi-product of fermentation where the sugar molecules are converted from C6H1206 to 2C2H50H + 2CO2.
The then wine undergoes a process called riddling where the dead yeast cells are gently moved into the neck of the bottle. Next comes the process of removal of these yeast cells by dégorgement and the topping up of the wine with the dosage which will determine the style of Champagne. Champagne styles range from Brut Nature (0-3gms per litre of residual sugar) to Doux 50+gms residual sugar per litre.
David himself participated on the Champagne Academy program where 16 lucky candidates from Ireland and the UK are selected to attend a week of immersive education like no other in Champagne hosted by 16 contributing Grande Marque houses. The 16 houses are Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Pol Roger, Champagne Ruinart, Champagne Charles Heidsieck, Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Krug, Champagne Lanson, Champagne Laurent Perrier, Champagne Möet & Chandon, Champagne Monopole Heidsieck & Co., G.H. Mumm, Champagne Perrier Jouet, Champagne Piper Heidsieck, Champagne Pol Roger, Champagne Pommery and Champagne Louis Roederer. Upon completing the tastings and exams set in the region, they are then invited to join the Academy. David managed to scoop the trophy for Ireland when he attended and as part of the prize was awarded a magnum of Champagne from each of the participating houses.
Apart from the Grande Marque houses, Whelehans Wines are very proud to ship directly the Premier Cru L.Bénard Pitois Grower Champagne. This wonderful very highly reviewed grower Champagne traces it’s origins back to 1878. Although a small house, producing 70,000 bottles across all its cuvées it is very highly regarded. The point of note with a grower Champagne is that they own the vineyards where the fruit for their wines come from.
Spotlight on Champagne Louis Roederer:
SPANNING TWO CENTURIES
The cuvées of the House of Louis Roederer are the fruit of patient work
with fundamental ingredients, the collaboration of experts, a quest for the perfect balance, and hardy and generous grapes, cultivated in the Champagne soil, producing a wine with a summery character and crystalline elegance
ONE OF THE LAST GREAT INDEPENDENT AND FAMILY-RUN CHAMPAGNE HOUSES
When he inherited the Champagne House in 1833, the aesthete and entrepreneur Louis Roederer took a visionary approach to enriching his vines, aiming to master every stage of the wine’s creation. He forged the wine’s unique style, character, and taste. In the mid-nineteenth century, Louis Roederer acquired some of Champagne’s grand cru vineyards—an approach that contrasted sharply with contemporary practices.
While other Houses bought their grapes, Louis Roederer nurtured his vineyards, familiarized himself with the specific characteristics of each parcel, and methodically acquired the finest land. Louis Roederer’s guiding principle was that all great wine depends on the quality of the soil, a passion for tradition, and an astute vision of the future; the fame and reputation of the House of Louis Roederer was firmly established. His heir, Louis Roederer II was equally enlightened and adopted his father’s conscientious approach to the production of champagne, patrimonial estate management, and instinctive audacity.
THE RIGHT SOIL IS THE KEY TO EVERY GREAT WINE:
He also drew inspiration from the many books and drawings he collected with great discernment. In the 1870s, the Louis Roederer Champagne House began to export its wines to the United States, and even to Tsar Alexander II of Russia.
A man of great taste and an inveterate researcher, Louis Roederer II fashioned an exclusive champagne for the Tsar and launched a novel concept: the very first Cuvée de Prestige. It was created in 1876 and named ‘Cristal’. Ever since, the subtleness and elegance of Cristal have forged Louis Roederer’s reputation for excellence.
In the 1920s, the future heir to the House of Louis Roederer, Léon Olry-Roederer consecrated his efforts to creating a highly balanced wine—a consistent and delicate blend of several vintages, to ensure that the wine would always be of the highest quality. This wine would form the basis for the later Brut Premier. This fine blend greatly contributed to the renaissance of the House of Louis Roederer.
After his death, from 1933 onwards, the winery was managed by his strong-minded widow, Camille, who ran the Champagne House with formidable intelligence and singular dynamism. Camille loved horse racing and owned one of the most famous stables in the world; she was also an enlightened patron and embraced the more festive and pleasurable aspects of champagne. Camille Olry-Roederer held many receptions in the family’s Hôtel Particulier in Reims. These parties had a lasting impact on the history of the House and introduced a whole new generation of wine lovers to the joys of Louis Roederer Champagne.
Her grandson, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, an oenologist and agronomist, took over the running of the entire estate and decided to consolidate the vineyards. Through his passionate commitment to the metier of wine-growing, he cultivated more than ever the inventive qualities that are so representative of the House’s philosophy.
The Louis Roederer House has remained an independent, family-owned company and is now managed by Jean-Claude’s son, Frédéric Rouzaud, who represents the seventh generation of the lineage. With the same patience and unshakeable faith in its creative vocation, the House of Louis Roederer’s annual exports total three million bottles around the world.
VISIONARY INTUITION THAT LED TO THE CREATION OF AN EXCEPTIONAL ESTATE
In 1845, Louis Roederer acquired 15 hectares in the Grand Cru vineyards of Verzenay. The idea—which was quite unusual at a time when grapes had little value—was to become a wine grower in order to master the entire process of creating his vintage wines. Ever since, every Louis Roederer vintage originates exclusively from our own vines, which is rare indeed in the Champagne region. The quest for a diversity of terroirs, crus, parcels, and grape varieties in the vineyards (or climats to use the Burgundian expression) was rapidly integrated by the House of Louis Roederer. A ground-breaking strategy was implemented, which involved buying specific parcels selected for their capacity to produce distinctive wines. This strategy is still a core component of the House’s continuing development.
In 2013, Louis Roederer’s vineyards stretched across 240 hectares and include 410 parcels.
Spotlight on Champagne Pol Roger:
Pol Roger made his first sale of wine in January 1849. Family circumstances forced him to set up a business his father, a notary, had contracted an incurable disease and could no longer carry on his practice. The customer was a merchant in Aÿ, the native village of Pol Roger. The firm developed rapidly. From Aÿ, it moved to Epernay in 1851. As early as 1855, Pol began to favour production of Brut Champagne. He knew that this was the type of Champagne which the English preferred. By 1899, when its founder died, the brand had acquired an enviable amount of recognition. It had only taken about thirty years.
1849 - 1899
The Rogers lived in Aÿ, a village famous for its vineyards, lying at the foot of the Montagne de Reims. Pol Roger was only 18 when, on 2nd January 1849, he made his first sale of wine. Circumstances obliged him to take such an initiative : his father, a notary, contracted an incurable disease and had to give up his practice. The family settled in Épernay in 1851, where the firm would be able to develop. When Pol Roger died of pneumonia in 1899, his two sons were ready to take over from him.
The relationship between Champagne Pol Roger and Sir Winston Churchill dates back to a providential meeting at a luncheon given by the British Ambassador to France some months after the liberation of Paris at which was served the sumptuous 1928 vintage of Pol Roger. Attending the lunch was the beautiful Odette Pol-Roger as well as the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, with whom she struck up an instant rapport. A friendship was born which continued until Churchill’s death, creating links between the Pol-Roger and Churchill families which are still as strong to this day.
The pressures of his post sadly prevented Churchill ever paying a visit to 44 Avenue de Champagne, the home of Champagne Pol Roger, but he nonetheless proclaimed it “the most drinkable address in the world”. As recompense for breaking his promise to visit he sent Odette a copy of his Memoirs inscribed “Cuvée de Réserve, mise en bouteille au Château de Chartwell”. He even named one of his racehorses “Pol Roger” and the lly strode to victory at Kempton Park in 1953, Coronation Year.
THE “CUVÉE SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL”:
Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston Churchill mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. The exact blend is a closely guarded family secret but it is undeniable that the composition would meet with the approval of the man to whom it is dedicated: “My tastes are simple, I am easily satisfied with the best”. Pinot Noir predominates, providing structure, breadth and robustness whilst Chardonnay contributes elegance, sense and subtlety. Composed exclusively of grapes sourced from Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards which were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime, “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” is only made in the very best vintages and is always released later than the other vintage dated Champagnes from Pol Roger, marking Churchill’s appreciation for older wines.
Spotlight on Champagne Bollinger:
The Bollinger champagne House has created prestigious champagnes with character, distinguished by their elegance and complexity, since 1829. These outstanding wines are the result of rigorous attention to detail, for Bollinger accepts nothing less than excellence. Each and every detail represents a quest for a certain form of perfection. This uncompromisingly independent spirit, dedicated to unostentatious achievement, exemplifies the inimitable elegance for which the Champagne region is renowned and which has so impressed the Court of England that the House has been awarded the Royal Warrant since 1884.
The House’s singularity:
The Bollinger vineyard covers 165 hectares, most of which are classified Grand or Premier cru. Pinot Noir predominates, a demanding grape variety with an intense character which forms the backbone of the Bollinger style. Continuity of style is ensured by an exceptional collection of over 700,000 reserve magnums, making Bollinger the only champagne House with such a wide and precise palette of aromas for their blends. As a guarantee of supreme quality, the best crus are vinified in wood thanks to a stock of 3,500 small, aged casks. The House lets its wines mature for twice as long as the appellation requirement. This is not out of vanity, but because a great wine needs the luxury of time to develop its full character.
Precision in action
Because quality is anchored in the precision of each movement to be carried out, every stage of production of Bollinger wines is marked by a specific action. Passed on and perfected from generation to generation for nearly two centuries, these production secrets are one of the House’s greatest assets. Bollinger never yields to the easy option: wherever ancestral techniques have proved to guarantee the highest quality, they are preserved however challenging this choice might prove. Hand riddling, reserve magnums and vintage cuvées stoppered with natural corks, and a resident cooper: the House proudly perpetuates ancient skills and valuable crafts. Bollinger is the first champagne House to obtain the highly respected Patrimoine Vivant (living heritage) seal of quality which recompenses exceptional craftsmanship and skill.
Spotlight on Champagne Charles Heidsieck:
Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. The current range is one of the most awarded collections of wines in the world. The intricacies of the champagnes’ complex make up have been perfected over the years by one of the most celebrated winemaking teams in Champagne – between three winemakers they have been awarded ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ at the International Wine Challenge fifteen times. This winemaking legacy, paired with the house’s flamboyant history since its foundation in 1851 by the man who would become known as ‘Champagne Charlie’, makes it a unique offering from Champagne: a house with great, hand-crafted wines, heritage and proven quality.
Charles Heidsieck :
Charles Heidsieck was the original ‘Champagne Charlie’ gaining the nick-name during his travels around America in the mid-19th Century, inspiring George Leybourne’s famous song. Unlike many other famous Champagne Houses of the period who were selling their wines to the insatiable Russian aristocracy, Charles headed over the Atlantic, and allegedly introduced Champagne to America.
Letters from Charles back to his family in Champagne tell of his popularity and reputation as something of a dandy, a man who was friends with everyone, and whose wines were some of the most popular of the time. He wrote “...there is around my personality a rumour, an excitement as they say, that we will greatly benefit from...”
Charles Heidsieck was the chosen Champagne of the European royalty in the late 1800s, being awarded a royal warrant by King Edward VII of Great Britain in 1897, and appointed Champagne supplier by the Queen Dowager of Holland and the Emperor of Austria. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Charles Heidsieck was supplying Champagne to the royal courts of Sweden, Norway, England, the Netherlands, Portugal, Prussia, Spain, Luxembourg and Austria.
The House today:
In keeping with Charles Heidsieck’s original ethos, the house does not own any of their own vineyards. Charles chose to concentrate on producing and ageing wine, leaving the vineyards in the hands of those who know them best – the growers. To this day, the house owns chalk cellars below Reims dating from the 11th century. This labyrinth of underground alcoves and galleries offers ideal conditions for ageing and enhancing wines.
The Charles Heidsieck bottle shape echoes the shape of these cellars. The bottles are made with the proportions of a magnum in mind – a slim neck and wide base – the best shape for ageing Champagne.
The wines today are made by a team with decades of collective experience, headed by Cyril Brun, Chef de Cave since 2015.
Spotlight on Champagne Veuve Clicquot:
In 1772 Philippe Clicquot, from a family of bankers and textile merchants, already owns vineyards and decides to establish a wine business. From the very beginning, the House states its ambition of "crossing borders". In 1805 When François Clicquot, the founder's son, dies, his widow is 27. It takes her only a few weeks to come to a decision. She thus becomes one of the first businesswomen of modern times. In 1814
Veuve Clicquot Domain:
Beginning with the Bouzy vineyards that originally belonged to founder Philippe Clicquot, subsequent generations - and more particularly Madame Clicquot - gradually built up the Veuve Clicquot property through determination, intuition and acumen to make it one of the foremost vineyards in all of Champagne.
The Veuve Clicquot vineyards cover 393 hectares of land belonging to Veuve Clicquot to supply grapes to the House. It spreads over the very best Champagne growth areas: 12 of the 17 Grands Crus and 18 of the 44 Premiers Crus. The vineyards boast an exceptional average classification of close to 96%, a ranking that is based on the wine growing properties of the terroir and the quality of the grapes produced.
The vines are mostly planted on the hillside where the soil is the shallowest and exposure to the sun is at a maximum.
Who was the first to think of using the old quarries to stock champagne bottles? Although it is difficult to say, Veuve Clicquot did take advantage of the opportunity to increase cellaring space for its wines. In 1909, the House bought some magnificent chalk cellars, located on the Saint-Nicaise hills, which today enjoy new life as ageing cellars. A labyrinth of shadow and light, pale walls scored by the marks of their creators, these chalk cellars serve as a silent host to the very best vintages.... Stretching over more than 24 kilometres under the Champagne soil, the chalk tunnels form a monument in tribute to the House. It is here that visitors from the world over come to discover the history and savoir-faire of Veuve Clicquot.
Spotlight on Champagne Krug:
Behind every precious drop of Krug stands the dream of a visionary. One man who, long before others, understood that the essence of Champagne is pleasure.
So, over 170 years ago, Joseph Krug broke with convention to follow his vision. To create the most generous expression of Champagne every year, regardless of climatic unpredictability.
Joseph’s bold experiment proved a triumph and he succeeded in creating Champagne like never before. And like no other Champagne House since.
To this day, the House of Krug lives and breathes his enduring philosophy, creating only prestige Champagnes since 1843.
Joseph Krug was born in 1800 in the German town of Mainz, part of France’s Napoleonic empire at the time. Growing up at the heart of the Moselle, he was exposed early on to winegrowing as fragmented as the Champagne region he would one day call home. He became a talented, purposeful young man and spoke three languages.
Setting off at 24 as a trader and commercial traveler, he finally arrived in Paris in 1834. It was an exciting time where he lived in a creative milieu peopled by artists. Dreaming of making his mark in the world of Champagne, Joseph leaped at an opportunity that would eventually lead him to greatness: Joseph Krug was employed by Jacquesson, the leading Champagne House of the time. He quickly became a partner, travelled widely, mixed with the influential, but was far from satisfied.
For him, the essence of Champagne was pleasure, yet variables in the weather could make quality waver dramatically from one year to the next. Joseph dreamed of another way beyond the constraints that compromised Champagne quality.
At the age of 42, a time when most in his position would be close to retiring, he left the security of a comfortable career to risk it all. It was not an easy decision to take, especially considering he had married into the Jacquesson dynasty. But he was ready to put his vision to the test.
In 1840 Joseph met Hippolyte de Vivès, a highly regarded wine merchant in Reims. Over the next three years, the two undertook a secret but fruitful collaboration, testing new blends. This friendship became something of a trial run for the defining Krug approach. In 1843, with the support of de Vivès, Joseph Krug founded the House of Krug & Compagnie. At last he could pursue his dream: to create the very best Champagne every year regardless of variations in climate.
To immortalize his vision, Joseph confided in the pages of a cherry-red notebook – his enduring testament which survives to this day at the House of Krug. As he wrote in the notebook, passing on his knowledge to his son Paul, he was convinced great Champagne could only be achieved using good wines, tasted separately plot by plot, from good vineyards. Terroir was crucial.
But there was one more key to unlock guaranteed undisputed quality: he needed to free the process from climatic moodiness. So he began to
build a reserve of wines, each made of grapes from a separate plot of land with its own specific character. It soon became an extensive mixing palette.
Determined to create the most generous expression of Champagne every single year, he drew upon his vast library of reserve wines to compose his prestige Champagne. In this way, whatever the weather, whatever the harvest, Joseph would always be able to create a Champagne abundant in nuances and of unequalled generosity.
His notebook refers to it as Champagne No.1. Krug Grande Cuvée was born.
It was a revolution. An approach beyond the notion of vintage. Joseph had turned his back on the accepted rules of Champagne making. Yet none could deny the exceptional richness, elegance and distinction he achieved in every Krug Grande Cuvée he elaborated.
From its very inception, Krug would be first in creating only prestige Champagnes every year, a still unique and defining trait of Krug to this day.
Spotlight on Champagne Laurent-Perrier :
The House of Laurent-Perrier was founded in 1812 by André Michel Pierlot and took the name Vve Laurent-Perrier when Mathilde Emilie Perrier, the widow of Eugène Laurent, combined the two family names after she decided to expand the business.
Eugénie Hortense Laurent, her daughter, inherited the House in 1925 and sold it to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939. During WWII, Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt ran the business while two of her sons, Maurice and Bernard, joined the French Resistance.
In 1945, Bernard de Nonancourt began an exacting apprenticeship, learning every aspect of winemaking from vine to cellar, before his appointment in October 1948 as Chairman and Chief Executive. At that point, the House was employing around 20 people and shipping 80,000 bottles a year.
Fired by a passion for champagne, a respect for traditional values and, most importantly, for people, Bernard de Nonancourt inspired Laurent-Perrier with his independent spirit and creative audacity.
He established privileged working relationships with the grape growers and cleverly combined innovation and tradition. He created the signature Laurent-Perrier style of freshness, lightness and elegance and developed a unique range of champagnes which are today exported to more than 160 countries worldwide.
Bernard de Nonancourt created the Laurent-Perrier style. To do this, he revived and took over the traditional ways of champagne, but also launched new approaches at both technical and blending level. He created a range of unique wines with their own history and personality. Laurent-Perrier is now celebrated for its style and the consistency of its quality, cuvée after cuvée.
Bottles Reminiscent of Traditional Flacons:
To show his champagnes at their best, Bernard de Nonancourt came up with the idea of offering some of them in unique, original types of bottle.
Cuvée Grand Siècle, for example, was the first elegantly refined bottle of the range, inspired by the hand-blown bottles initially made in the 17th century to contain the first champagnes. Another was the Cuvée Rosé bottle, which is more rounded, and is decorated with a shield, inspired by those made in the previous century, in the time of King Henri IV.
In 1881, when Cellar Master Eugène Laurent inherited the Alphonse Pierlot Champagne House, he provided it with the essential foundations required to produce great champagnes, namely the houses and land to create a fully-fledged estate. He purchased vines in the very best terroirs of Bouzy, Tours-sur-Marne, and Ambonnay, excavated 800 metres of cellars, and set up a tasting laboratory.
That is how the Domaine Laurent-Perrier (the Estate) was anchored in Tours-sur-Marne. This picturesque village is ideally situated at the crossroads of the three main wine growing areas of the Marne département: the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne and the Côte des Blancs. It is also part of the 17 Champagne villages ranking in the prestigious ‘Grand Cru’ area.
Spotlight on Champagne Piper Heidsieck:
To make joyful wines with great seriousness.” “To make a cuvee worthy of a queen..”
“Family owned since 2011, today the PIPER-HEIDSIECK Maison still remains true to these ambitious promises made by Florens-Louis Heidsieck in 1785. To meet this demand for excellence it is now Régis Camus, eight times winner of the International Wine Challenge’s Sparkling Winemaker of the Year Trophy, who personifies all the expertise of this bicentennial Champagne House”.
PIPER-HENDRICK'S Prestige Cuvée Rare 2002, currently holds the International Wine Challenge ‘Sparkling Wine of the Year Trophy. With this exceptional title won at one of the world’s most prestigious wine competitions, PIPER-HEIDSIECK, as redefined by Régis Camus, reasserts its place among the major Champagne houses of this decade.
PIPER-HEIDSIECK loves the Cinema and the Cinema loves it back. The Maison continues its sponsorship of the Cannes Film Festival, an association it has held since 1993, and became the official Champagne of the Oscars for the first time in 2015. “To Piper, my favorite” Marilyn Monroe.