I recently stumbled across this post on the Thief Wine Blog about a blind champagne tasting the author did with customers, and I thought it was an interesting experiment.
They tasted Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Bollinger Special Cuvee, Pierre Gimonnet 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs, and Philipponnat Royale Reserve, all bottles within the same price range. Obviously, Veuve Clicquot is the most recognizable name of the bunch, but in the blind taste test it finished fourth (Philipponat was the winner).
While this may surprise many, it did not surprise the author of the article and does not particularly surprise me either; despite the popularity of its brand name, Veuve Clicquot in my experience seems to be produced in massive quantities without real concern for a unique, high-quality taste. In general, bottles from smaller wineries have a better quality for the price. I haven't tried Philipponnat, but after this recommendation I am excited to try a bottle!
Additionally, the Thief Wine Blog brings up a very important point concerning the origin of grapes in Champagne. Most Champagne will say on the level whether the bottle is RM or NM; RM indicates that the maker of the Champagne also grew at least 95% of the grapes used in the wine, and NM indicates that more than 5% of the grapes are purchased. According to FoodandWineblog.com, the major champagne houses are NM. Bottles can also be marked with RC or CM, which indicate different things about Champagne made using cooperatives. An MA label indicates that the bottle was not made by the group who is selling the wine.