Champagne Ariston

Champagne Ariston is a small, high-quality producer located west of the city of Reims near the town of Brouillet. Maison Ariston was founded in 1794, and remains a family enterprise: after four generations of family ownership, Remi Ariston took over the company in 1964 and today his son Paul-Vincent is the director and winemaker. The firm ships their Champagne worldwide, but the wines are principally known in France and the U.K., where they are much appreciated.

The associated Aspasie label is named for one of the Ariston ancestors, and although there are some differences between the lines, the two Champagnes are stylistically similar and share the same high quality. Aspasie’s main attraction is a striking Blanc de Blancs, in a clear glass bottle, which is made from 100% Chardonnay grown in select vineyards that have superior soil and exposure. The other Champagnes are made up of blends with about 30% each of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Both Ariston and Aspasie have a relatively high percentage of reserve wines from older vintages (30%), which not only makes them consistent from year to year but gives them special matured flavors, in the manner of classic producers like Bollinger and Krug. The Ariston Brut “Carte Blanche” is an excellent example of a Brut N/V with reserve wines, and is the workhorse of the line; the Ariston Rosé N/V is about one-half Pinot Noir, and has a lovely pink color with a flavor that suggests wild strawberries. The Ariston Brut Millésime 2000 is the vintage-dated release; it has a high proportion of Chardonnay (35%) and is not normally sold until about six years after the vintage.

Aspasie also makes a Brut N/V, the “Brut Prestige,” with 50% Chardonnay from the oldest vineyards. It was prepared especially for the millennium in 2000. The real standout in the line is the Blanc de Blancs, a Champagne from 100% Chardonnay shipped in a clear glass bottle. It is a special blend produced from only the oldest and the best Chardonnay grapes grown by the family, and its subtle green-gold color can easily be appreciated through the clear glass. It has frequently garnered medals at major exhibitions, and last year fetched a silver medal at the Spectacle du Monde competition in France, whereby an all-French jury evaluated recent Champagne releases. The Aspasie Brut de Fut is a most original wine, shipped in antique glass bottles, whereby it is aged in oak casks for a period of time before being released. This sort of Champagne is very rare nowadays, and is a perfect choice for connoisseurs and lovers of Champagne with a certain degree of bottle age. It is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier.