What is the difference between Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs?
Have you ever been shopping for English Sparkling Wine or Champagne and found yourself faced with a wide range of wines with different names, such as “Blanc de Blancs” or “Blanc de Noirs” (amongst other terms!)?
Never fear – we can break down the terminology so you can find the perfect English Sparkling Wine for you.
What are Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs?
Let’s start by ascertaining what these phrases mean.
Blanc de Blancs literally translates to “white of whites”, while “Blanc de Noirs” translates to “white of blacks”.
With its pale golden colour, you’d be forgive for thinking that English Sparkling Wines and Champagnes are made of white grapes. In fact, the majority are made of a mix of white and black grape varieties – typically Chardonnay (white), Pinot Noir (black) and Pinot Meunier (black) – though some others can be used.
In a Blanc de Blancs, only white grapes are used – hence “white of whites”. In a Blanc de Noirs, only black grapes are used – “white of blacks”.
What is the impact on taste?
A typical English Sparkling Wine or Champagne will have a common variety of flavours – the most common are toast, brioche, almond, biscuit and orange, with floral or mineral tones.
In a Blanc de Blancs, the flavours tend to be fresher and zestier. The aromas and flavours will be more citrus led. Classic flavours may include lemon or orange, brioche, biscuit, melon and apple. It will typically be drier, and feel a little lighter in body. The acidity can be crisper, giving a refreshing feel. As you’d expect, the colour is lighter than a classic English Sparkling Wine or Champagne, or a Blanc de Noirs.
Whilst we love any opportunity to drink Blanc de Blancs, we think it’s particularly good on a warm summer’s day!
With Blanc de Noirs, we think the beauty is in the complexity! Again, as you’d expect, the colour is generally darker than a Blanc de Blancs, though can be similar to some Champagnes. It is fuller in body, and can have a deeper texture to it. There flavours can include brioche, toast, raspberry, peach, apricot, and warming spice.
Whilst we think the flavours themselves lend themselves well to Autumn/Winter (particularly celebrations at Christmas!), we think this is a great wine to serve all year round for special occasions. It’s especially good for celebrating during the current pandemic – smaller celebrations may give you more time to appreciate the complexity of these excellent wines!
Who’s making great English Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs?
We love Fox & Fox’s Essence – it won a Gold Medal at The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, and Silver Medals at the IWSC Awards and the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Greyfriars Blanc de Blancs is a great example of an Oaked Blanc de Blancs – the oak doesn’t add heavy flavours, but instead gives delicate extra complexity. It’s certainly far too moreish!
A real customer favourite is Wiston Estate’s Blanc de Blancs 2015 – gorgeously light with great acidity and lusciously full of fruit and floral notes.
Our favourite Blanc de Noirs is Beacon Down’s Blanc de Noirs – this picked up Silver medals at the IWSC Awards and the Sommelier Wine Awards this year.
However, we’d encourage you to try a whole range of sparkling wines across all types! Just like anything, everyone has their own preferences and it’s important to try a variety to find what you enjoy – what a great excuse to sample lots of gorgeous English & Welsh wines!
You can get started by shopping our range of English & Welsh wines here.
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