May begins a season of celebrations. Weddings and graduations, for sure, but also Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or just that two weeks’ respite from work. How better to celebrate these events than with Champagne? Champagne creates celebrations, if you don’t have one ready. A customer once chose Champagne over less expensive alternatives for his wedding reception, saying, “You only marry for the second time once.” Champagne maximizes every occasion.
Champagne’s aura of history, elegance, and glamour certainly adds to its appeal. The wines themselves, however, carry the field. The backbone of every Champagne house is its non vintage wines, particularly the brut. Producers blend these wines to produce a consistent style. Vintage bottlings appear in exceptional years, much like how Port producers offer their vintage wines.
You cannot go wrong with any of the Champagne houses listed below. Quality is high among them all. Preference for a particular house style will determine your choice. Winston Churchill, for instance, favored edgy yet full-bodied Pol Roger as his daily pour, along with brandy, and the inevitable cigar. Even during the dark years of World War II, he kept himself fortified. Mentioning that allows us to offer one of Winnie’s wicked remarks, of which there are many. We presume that his favorite Champagne inspired his remark: A woman at a party said to him, “Why Winston, you’re drunk.” He replied, “That may be so, madam, but tomorrow I will be sober and you will still be ugly.” Game, set, match.
You may not drink Champagne daily as Churchill did, so what should you look for in a Champagne?
- Fine and persistent bubbles. Champagne flutes are designed to maximize bubble creation. Soap residue can interfere with the bubbles so wipe glasses with a cloth before pouring.
- A full, yeasty, complex aroma. Champagne sits on the less—dead yeast cells—for extended periods.
- Crisp yet deep flavors.
A few more points to remember about Champagne:
- Rosés often represent the finest offering from a champagne house. They are dry, complex, and absolutely delightful. Don’t let a rosé prejudice keep you from enjoying these great wines.
- Champagne absolutely goes with food, including soups, main courses, desserts, and cheeses. An article in the New York Times recently recommended Bollinger Special Cuvée and Billecart Salmon Rosé as perfect accompaniments to pizza. Make your own rules.,
- The bubbles do tickle your nose.
Nicolas Feuilatte $34.99—The number 3 bestselling champagne in the world!
The Wine Spectator, 92 point
Perrier-Jouet $39.99—the famous “Flower Bottle” (impressive gift!)
The Wine Spectator, 90 points
Ayala (750ml) 44.99$
Robert Parker 90 points, The Wine Spectator 90 points
The Wine Spectator, 93 points
Moët & Chandon $49.99
Billecart-Salmon Brut $59.99
Moët & Chandon Brut 1.5L $99.99
Pol Roger Extra Cuvee de Réserve $55.00
Veuve Cliquot Brut $57.99
The Wine Spectator 90 points, Wine & Spirits 90 points
Veuve Cliquot Demi-Sec $57.99
Bollinger Special Cuvée $59.99
The Wine Spectator 93 points, Wine Enthusiast 93 points, Robert Parker 91 points
Roger Coulon $59.99
Paul Bara Rosé $74.99
Gosset Rosé $75.00
Wine & Spirits 91 points, The Wine Spectator 90 points
Billecart-Salmon Rosé $99.99
Krug Grand Cuvée $229.99—Simply amazing!
The Wine Spectator 95 points, Robert Parker 94 points
Roederer Cristal $250.00