It’s Black, It’s White: 10 Sparklers Made from Pinot Noir or Chardonnay

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While the wine world is often filled with many grey areas—oddities that color outside the lines—a few things can turn out to be a little more black and white. Or maybe we should say noir and blanc.

Blanc de Blancs are sparkling wines made from white grapes. In most of France, including Champagne, the grape will likely be Chardonnay, however Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and other regional white grapes  can also be used. Blanc de Blancs are typically zesty, linear and citrus-driven in fruit flavor, which is a result of the grapes used.

Blanc de Noirs are sparkling wines made from red grapes. Mostly found in Champagne, this style is predominately Pinot Noir-focused, yet Pinot Meunier can also be included in the blend or spotlighted in single-varietal bottlings. Generally, Blanc de Noirs offer ripe fruit flavors and a broad texture.

While Champagne set the benchmark for these two styles, they are replicated in many other sparkling wine regions. With examples from France, California and Oregon, here are five Blanc de Blancs and five Blanc de Noirs to seek out and pop open.

All the Grapes Used in Champagne, Explained

Blanc de Blancs

Argyle 2015 Spirit Hill Vineyard Blanc de Blancs Sparkling (Eola-Amity Hills); $50. This single vineyard, vintage-dated cuvée was fermented and aged in neutral barrels… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Ayala 2015 Le Blanc de Blancs Brut (Champagne); $90. In keeping with the house style, this is a dry brut… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Bruno Paillard NV Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut (Champagne); $75. Produced exclusively from Grand Cru fruit grown on the Côte des Blancs, this is a crisp, textured Champagne… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW 

Iron Horse 2017 Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs Estate Bottled Sparkling (Green Valley); $56. With a lemony mousse and slate-like, acid-driven freshness, this Chardonnay-based sparkler is deliciously dry and complex… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Vitteaut-Alberti NV Brut Blanc de Blancs (Crémant de Bourgogne); $23. This traditional-method blanc de blancs is made from an 80/20 blend of Chardonnay and Aligoté… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Blanc de Noirs

Besserat de Bellefon NV BB Blanc de Noirs Grand Cru Brut (Champagne); $90. With its 100% Pinot Noir from grand cru vineyards, this Champagne has great richness and good structure… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Devaux NV Coeur des Bar Blanc de Noirs Brut (Champagne); $60. The vineyards of Bar sur Seine in the Aube region are well known for Pinot Noir… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Lytle-Barnett 2017 Blanc de Noirs Sparkling (Eola-Amity Hills); $75. Despite a relatively high dosage of 5 g/L, this feels quite dry and has a strong mineral component… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

We Recommend:

Schramsberg 2017 Brut Blanc de Noirs Sparkling (North Coast); $43. Only a hint of pink in the straw color of this wine gives a clue that it’s made from dark grapes… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Willm NV Blanc de Noirs Brut (Crémant d’Alsace); $17. A reductive smudge of smoky earthiness still clouds aromas of this sparkler… SEE SCORE AND FULL REVIEW

Published on December 31, 2021
Topics: Buying Guide