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8 Ratafia Champenois To Try Before You Die


Long seen as a remedy to stomach ailements, Ratafia Champenois is a traditional liqueur produced only in the Champagne region, and which rarely leave France. It is made from a blend of grape must (juice) and eau-de-vie (a type of brandy). It received official status as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) in 2015, and was registered as an AOP by the European Commission in 2019. Traditionally and now as part of it's legislature, the grape must is sourced from the Champagne region, and the eau-de-vie is also distilled from grapes grown in the region.


Made from the three main champagne varieties, the must is taken essentially from the first 116 litres of juice extracted in a third and final press of 4,000 kilos of grapes, known as rebêche (Cuvee is the first 2050 litres, taille is the next 500 litres - both presses are the only juice allowed to make champagne).


This rebêche, considered a "by-product" of champagne is mostly taken off the hands of busy producers by distillers, but a select few keep the juice to make their own ratafia, fine or marc de champagne.


Total production of ratafia is limited to just 15 million bottles or 6% of the Champagne AOC.

This makes it quite rare and it seldom leaves the region. However if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a bottle it makes a wonderful digestif and a great complement to a champagne degustation dinner. It is surpisingly versatile and can pair with different cuisines from all over the world.


Here are a few examples which we recommend enjoying as an aperitif, or a digestif matched with cheese or desserts.


 


Champagne Henri Giraud - Ratafia Solera



How could we not start with Henri Giraud? Claude Giraud is the President of the recently founded Boissons Spiritueuses Champenoises union, and has been a driving force behind the visibilty of liqueur worldwide.


His Solera Ratafia is one of the most well known and Claude has just made a big statement for the category by releasing a 4500ml bottle.


The ripest juices from 1990 to 2016 were blended with Fine Champenoise and aged in small oak barrels in with the Solera method.

Available in 500ml and 4500ml

Grape Variety: Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

Alcohol Percentage: 18%

Number of bottles: TBC

Price: 165 for 50cl



 


Dumangin - The World's Finest Ratafia Champenois


After tasting a Single Malt Whisky « Tain L’Hermitage Finish » in a fine wine store next door to Harrods in 1994, Gilles set out to create the best ratafia of the region.

He now ages his Ratafias in second hand barrels for up to 16 years to give them a slight tannic finish which is part of his raging success. He now produces six different ratafias and a range of whiskies that have been aged in former ratafia barrels.


Gilles is a known as The Ratafia Specialist and has been awarded "World's Finest Ratafia de Champagne" by Glass of Bubbly in 2020 with his single barrel release and in 2022 with his second.


Grape Variety: Top secret

Alcohol Percentage: 18%

Number of bottles: approx 300

Price: 145


 

Andre Heucq - Ratafia Champenois



With 100% Meunier sourced from the siliceous clay alluvium vineyards of Cuisles and it's surrounding, this is a true representation of the Andre Heucq terroir through ratafia. The rebêche extracted from the organic vineyard is blended with alcool distilled in the Cuisles alambic . The blend is then aged in oak barrel for 20 months with no added sulfur.


Almost all of the Heucq 5.7ha is organic meunier, so this the Heucq style, fortified.


If you find yourself in Paris, the best way to explore Heucq wines is to visit Les Dilettantes, a Grower Champagne focused wine bar which is owned and run by his daughter Fanny Heucq.



Grape Variety: 100% Meunier

Alcohol Percentage: 18%

Number of bottles: 1080

Price: 35 for 50cl







 

Champagne Egly-Ouriet - Ratafia de Champagne


Francis Egly never does anything by half, and this ratafia is no exception. Only Grand Cru fruit from a single vintage of their own vineyards in Ambonnay is used. Their own fine is added, before spending a massive four years mellowing in old oak barrels. A real treat.


Grape Variety: 100% Pinot

Alcohol Percentage: 17%

Number of bottles: 1080

Price: 60 for 75cl




 



Champagne Gamet - Ratafia Clos des Goulots


This liquer sells out within weeks of its release each year, which is testament to its quality.


The rebêche of their pinots from a parcelle named « Clos des Goulots » on the hills of Fleury-la-Rivière is macerated for 48 hours, giving it a beautiful ruby colour and powerful aromas. It is then aged for a year before bottling.


Marianne Gamet recommends enjoying this on ice, or in a selection of cocktails for which they have shared recipes here.



Grape Variety: Pinot Noir & Meunier

Alcohol Percentage: 18%

Number of bottles: 400

Price: 35 for 50cl




 


Champagne Moussé Fils - Edmond T'en penses quoi?



Made as an ode to Cedric Moussé's grandad Edmond with whom he shared his secret recipe.

One part of the Meunier rebêche and marcs are double distilled, and then added to another part which sees micro vinification. The juices are blended and unfiltered, then bottled in a minute quantity of 50ml bottles.


Cedric recommends tasting this with a Maroilles cheese covered in red fruits on the best bread you can get your hands on.


Grape Variety: 100% Meunier

Alcohol Percentage: 18%

Number of bottles: 400

Price: 35 for 50cl




 


Champagne Geoffroy - Ratafia de Champagne





Iconic grower Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy makes this exquisite cuvee with 70% proof fine which he distills himself. After ageing in barrels for 8 months which softens the fine, it is then used to mute the juice pressed from their infamous “rosé de saignée", which hails mostly from Cumières.


It makes for a perfect match to a blue veined cheese or dripped onto a sweet ripe summer melon.


Grape Variety: Pinot Noir & Meunier

Alcohol Percentage: 18%

Number of bottles: 2,000

Price: 40 for 50cl



 


Champagne Xavier Leconte Ratafia Apeiron