One of my top picks for special drinking Champagne for a great, under $100/bottle price. Facts are this: 70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, all Grand Cru fruit, has gone through full malo, aged over 7 years on its lees. Get dried orchard fruits, both fresh and dried citrus zest, Gravenstein apples, sweet cream, etc. I really like the round, creamy texture and all the flavors I get in the 30 second finish. the H Goutorbe Champagne Special Club is great stuff. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
A total winner, especially for the price. All Chardonnay, all 2012 (a fantastic Champagne vintage). Went through full Malo, aged over 4 years on its lees before disgorgement. Super tasty, full of ripe lemon, green apple and crisp peach flavors. Great balance and delicious flavors start to finish. I want some Goutorbe Blanc de Blancs! Here are all my Champagne reviews.
We all need as much high quality, under $40 Champagne as we can possible get, right? Duc de Romet is made by Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy of R. Geoffroy. It’s Blanc de Noirs: ¾ Pinot Meunier, ¼ Pinot Noir, 70% from 2013, a good vintage for the area, and the rest “reserve wine” from earlier vintages. 4 years on the lees, which is impressively long for a $35 Champagne. Sports ripe, bright fruit, a ying/yang of tart & sweet, a clean rocky finish and a juicy friendliness. Don’t think too hard about this wine as you enjoy. Just enjoy.
Mark this down as a special Champagne to drink, which means for under $100 it really is an excellent value. It is 69% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir from what Geoffroy considers their best plots in Cumieres, Vallee de la Marne. No malo…8 years on the lees before disgorgement. Solid vintage 2009: “Plump and approachable,” writes Jancis Robinson. I love how the Geoffroy Champagne Cuvee Volupte hits all my sensation spots. Jolt of acidity, fresh fruit basket, doughy frame. And long as a winter night. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
Delicious Grand Cru, Cotes des Blancs Champagne. However, it’s delicious in a different way than you may expect. Instead of crisp, chalky and “racy,” this is more lush, round and what I call friendly. Could be the lower pressure of the wine, equating to less bubbly. Could be the vintages, 2014 and 2015, in this cuvée. In any event, you’ll like the ripe apple, citrus, pear, fig and peach flavors along with some tarragon, basil and sweet cream sensations in the Varnier Fanniere Champagne. Consider this to be more like a (still) Burgundy than the other Champagnes I recommend. Here […]
Always one of my favorite richer, rounder Champagnes, the Jean Lallement Champagne Brut is 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay from their multiple holdings on the Montagne de Reims. This is mostly 2014 vintage with 2013 making up the rest. Steel tank ferment and aged, full malo, 36 months on its lees after 2nd fermentation. The Lallement is lush, quite creamy and rich. With the richness there’s baked apples and pears, lemon custard, peaches and melons. You truly get the full package here, from fresh fruits to toasty/doughy from winemaking and aging. This is a relative bargain in the Champagne world. […]
All from Billiot’s Grand Cru vineyards in Ambonnay. 75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. While the wine wants to be rich, Billiot keeps the rich character in check with tank ferment and aging, no malo and more current vintages in the cuvee (this is 2013, 14 and 15). The H Billiot Champagne Brut Reserve comes out like a champ. Crisp green apples, Meyer lemons, a squeeze of lime and then tangy plums and a whiff of cranberry hit the palate. Tarragon and red rose show up near the end and on the generous finish. Gotta like acidity to thoroughly enjoy this […]
A front-row recommendation for sub-$50, grower Champagne, this “entry level” wine from Aubry is full of pleasure. For the location (Montagne de Reims) and cuvée (55% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir) you’d expect a darker, denser style of bubbles. Actually, what you get is crisp, cool Granny Smith apples, myriad citrus flavors, a little pear and THEN some pie crust, spice and Fino Sherry notes (coming from the reserve wine, a perpetual stash started in 1998). If you, like me, like variety in your non-vintage Champagne selection, put the Aubry Champagne Brut in your “CRISPER” section. Here are […]
Always one of the best sub $50 non-vintage Champagnes on the market, the current release of Gaston Chiquet Champagne Tradition is as good as ever. It’s made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir from Chiquet’s vineyards in the Vallee de la Marne. With tank ferment and aging, going through malo then at 2nd fermentation aging on its lees for 4 ½ years, the style is half green apple/citrus/pear, half creamy/doughy. The quality is very consistent, but I think this bottling raises its already lofty bar. Could be because the base wine is the fantastic 2012 vintage. Definitely […]
If you don’t already, get to know the wines of Moussé from the Vallée de la Marne. The Mousse Champagne “L’Or de Eugene” (The gold of Eugene) is 95% Pinot Meunier and 5% Pinot Noir. Primary fermentation and aging is in steel tank. This release is half 2015 vintage and half a reserve cuvée of 2003 to 2014. There’s a dark side to this wine. Smoky cherry, cherry pit, dried persimmon, green tea…honestly it’s hard to put my finger on it, but it’s really good. The fruit hits more base notes, there’s more weight and texture here than most Champagnes, […]
95% of the Chardonnay comes from Callot’s Avize vineyards. 2014 base wine with 30% from a Solera-like reserve stash Callot started in 1985. This is more fruity, fleshy and easy-going than most Cotes des Blancs Champagnes I know. Orchard & stone fruits are more prevalent than lemony citrus (that said, the lemon is there). The region’s rocky/lemon zest character peaks through on the 20 second finish. The Pierre Callot Champagne Brut Grand Cru is very enjoyable and a good one to pour for a group with a broad range of tastes. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
A particularly fresh, perfumed, intense style of Condrieu that focuses more on the fresh flowers and rocky character than the fruits. Smell and taste lemongrass, lemon verbena, ripe grapefruit, apple blossoms, river rocks, fresh apricots…and everything lifted up by its invigorating acidity. Structured finish, giving an impression of fine tannins. More Information Domaine de la Roche Paradis is owned and made by Yann Menager who for over 15 years has been Yves Cuilleron’s vineyard manager. He continues to work for Cuilleron as he builds his label. He has purchased vineyards in Condrieu, Saint Joseph and Cote Rotie, farms them himself […]
100% Roussanne from the southernmost part of Costieres de Nimes and The Rhone Valley. Oily, rich, honeyed, luxurious style which comes from the warm Mediterranean climate and the winemaking, including fermenting and aging the wines in neutral barrels. Smell and taste roast peaches, orange zest, honeycomb, white pepper and tarragon. Acid is there, between medium and medium high, and thank goodness. It makes the wine elevate. And we like elevation. The Clos des Centenaires Roussanne is an awesome value for under $30/bottle.
The Gimonnet Champagne Extra Brut is, like most of their wines, 100% Chardonnay from the chalky vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs. First time they’ve released an Extra Brut/lower dosage. Really good balance, particularly impressive to me for an Extra Brut. Ripe fruit, high acid and faint sweetness work as a team with no one part dominating. That’s a good thing. All the typical flavors of Cotes des Blancs are here. Dryness nibbles the palate on the finish as the fruit lingers. At $40 this is a fantastic value for Champagne. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
This is a Rose Champagne to pay attention to. Smell and taste wild cherry, plums, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, rose petals, touch of peppery spice. A jolt of acidity is quickly followed by fresh raspberries and pie crust. More mouth-watering acidity than you may expect at first, but then fruit and richness make the Vilmart Cuvee Rubis sing. Highly recommended as a special occasion Champagne. The facts: 90% Pinot Noir (small % of it still wine), 10% Chardonnay. 2013/2014 vintages (good vintages to marry: 2013 higher acid, 2014 riper). No malo, barrel aged, a low 9 G/L dosage.
Oranges, honeysuckle, honeydew and lemon blossoms express themselves in the 2016 Pierre Gaillard Condrieu. From terraced, south-facing vines planted in decomposed granite. The result, especially in a vintage like 2016, is perfume, intensity and delicacy. This is my favorite style of Viognier in the world and I deny anyone to not like this! Add to the citrus, melon and floral qualities some peach pit, kiwi, white pepper and lemongrass. Tangy acidity, mineral-y finish. This is the real deal in Condrieu. To see all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed, GO HERE.
85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay from Champagne’s Vallee de la Marne. 2012 through 2015 vintages in this cuvee. Spent 2 years on its lees prior to disgorgement. Showing more austerity and earthiness at my tasting. The soil qualities will always be the star I suspect, but the citrus and orchard fruits, part dried/part fresh, will show themselves by early 2019. Marc Hebrart is recommended for Champagne lovers who prefer more earth-driven and less fruity Champagnes.
40% Pinot Meunier, 35% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. Base wine is 2010. Aged 7 years on its lees. The Gaston Chiquet Cuvee de Reserve elicious Champagne, combining a friendliness of fruit and a creamy, doughy side from the longer aging. Easy to understand and totally enjoy while still being definitively Champagne. Here are all my Champagne reviews.
Unquestionably one of the best American sparkling wines made. This is 91% Pinot Noir, 9% Chardonnay from their Estate vineyard in Willamette’s Eola-Amity Hills sub-AVA. Barrel fermented and aged 8 months before 2nd fermentation in bottle. 2 years on its lees before disgorgement in spring 2017. The Soter Brut Rose comes out of the gate like a lightning bolt with fruit-forwardness (blood orange, wild cherry, raspberries) plus fresh pie crust, roast almonds and chamomile tea. You’ll really notice this wine – shy it is not. And with all its flavor, the acidity is running right alongside. Pour this next to […]
The Spanish grape Albariño has found if not a home then a vacation getaway in California. Napa producer Ferdinand acquires Albariño from Lodi’s “Vista Luna Vineyard” to make this crisp, aromatic, texturally pleasing white. I love its fresh floral, citrus basket and Granny Smith apple smells and flavors plus the crunchy-ness and mouth-watering acidity. Still, the tang is pulled back just enough with barrel fermentation (neutral barrel) and full malo. Think of it as sanding the sharp edges of a table. I’ve had my fair share of California Albariños, and the Ferdinand is one of the best. And for $20, […]
Owned and made by the Northern Rhone Valley’s Pierre Gaillard, Domaine Madeloc is his Roussillon (Banyuls and Collioure) brand. The Madeloc Banyuls Robert Pages is 90% Grenache Rouge & 10% Grenache Gris, late harvest, fortified (i.e. a Vin Doux Naturel, or VDN) then aged partially outside, in the elements, in big glass bottles (and part in neutral barrels). Sits lightly in the mouth for a VDN, showing sweet strawberry and raspberry flavors plus white pepper, anise, and chocolate/caramel smells and flavors. This is a great sipper by itself…you will find most will declare this “not too sweet” because of how […]
A home run for sub $20 red. But not surprising as Allegrini Palazzo della Torre wine has over-delivered for the price for many years. This Veronese red (from near Verona, Veneto region, northeast Italy) is a blend of local grapes Corvina, Rondinella plus a splash of Sangiovese. Ripe dark cherries, sweet spices, pick-me-up acidity, gentle tannins. Easy wine to drink and drink. I know – I’m drinking it as I write on a calm Sunday evening. Buy this 2014 while it’s still around. Allegrini “Palazzo della Torre” is on my “Best of the Best” list of Awesome and Hall of […]
This is the real deal in Condrieu. Nose of melon, peach, apricot, citrus blossom and honey. Taste keeps that all going with a little lemon tea and fresh green olive in there too. Intriguing, rocky, lemon bitters, sea breeze finish. Freshness and acidity cut through Viognier’s effusive character. I love this wine. Could drink it happily the rest of my life. Check out the other Vincent Cluzel wines I’ve reviewed HERE. Check out all the Rhone Valley wines I’ve reviewed HERE.
Notice straightaway the bright, fresh raspberry and strawberry flavors of Grenache in the Clos des Centenaires 2015. Peppercorns, dry French herbs and plenty of fine, gum-coating tannins give the wine its definitive Rhone character. Medium acidity and really good intensity make me think of fatty pork, duck and bacon as ideal food partners. No oak flavor to speak of. I recommend this all day & all night at $22. More Information 80 year old Grenache from the southern-most part of Costieres de Nimes and Rhone Valley. 100% Grenache. 1/3rd whole cluster ferment. Luc Baudet and importer Jack Edwards created this […]