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The best sparkling winemaker in the world

Facade of a small chateau, the headquarters for Champagne Devaux, windows lit at night

Imagine being a judge in a contest where more than 1000 different sparkling wines from around the world need to be assessed. Each sparkling wine must be blind tasted without any information about who made them, and what they cost… That’s what being a judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC) annual event is all about. And that’s how the best sparkling wine in the world is decided.

Man stands by a wooden wine barrel holding a large glass of ChampagneChampagne Devaux

In 2020, Michel Parisot, Head Winemaker at Champagne Devaux since 1999, was awarded the IWC’s coveted title of Best Sparkling Winemaker in the world. It’s a tough contest to win. 1000 of the world’s best champagnes, crémants and sparkling wines will have been tasted and whittled down to a smaller list. Then tasted again… and again (what a job).

All medal-winning wines are tasted at least three times: first by a minimum of two judging panels, then by two of the competition’s co-chairs who confirm the panels’ assessments. The IWC judging teams include international wine industry experts and influencers, commercial decision makers and wine makers. They work together to identify the highest quality wines each year from the 52 wine-producing countries represented in the competition.

Until finally a minimum of 8 judges are agreed. This is the best.

The Devaux Champagne House is located in Bar-sur-Seine in the Côte des Bar area, department Aube of Champagne. It’s an area that’s less well known perhaps than the Montagne de Reims area in the Marne department. But it’s an area that’s devoted to wine and Champagne production and peppered with pretty villages.

Champagne Devaux are known for their distinctively complex, balanced and flavourful champagnes predominantly from the Côte des Bar, Côte des Blancs and Montgueux. They’ve been making champagne since 1846, always with a distinctly contemporary edge. Their Collection D, Cœur des Bar, Les Classiques ranges, Rosé des Riceys (one of Louis XIV’s favourite wines),  Coteaux Champenois still wines and the inimitable Sténopé made in collaboration with Michel Chapoutier, reflect the unique history and expertise inherent in the House and the terroirs of Côte des Bar.

Michel Parisot – the best sparkling wine maker the world

Man in a vast cellar filled with large wooden wine barrels

Michel Parisot started work with Champagne Devaux in 1991. Right from the start he aimed to create easy-drinking, incredible-tasting wines. Now he and his team have been rewarded for their efforts with the title of International Wine Challenge Sparkling Winemaker of the Year 2020.

I tried their blanc de blancs. It is an absolute knockout bottle of fizz at a seriously reasonable price. Especially when you compare it to the cost of much more well known and flashy Champagnes. Lemony, peachy, beautifully fresh, it’s one you can drink at any time with anything. I also tried a vintage 2009 bottle from their “D” range which was outstanding. There are several different styles of Champagne – something to make everyone effervescent with happiness. As the great writer Charles Dickens once said “Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life.”  I’m pretty sure he would have loved Devaux!

Find out more at champagne-devaux.fr where they also have an online shop and details of tasting tours and workshops.

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