You know it. I know it. November means it’s time to think about the holidays. When it comes to wine and the holidays, it means one of these things: gifts, party wines, a special bottle to drink now or Champagne & other sparkling wines. I’m here today to cover the last one.
Wine importers have lately been pouring folks like me their best Champagnes and sparkling wines with hopes of getting them into your mouths over the holidays. I’ve tasted my fair share of sparkling wines, mostly Champagne, over the last month and have put together a solid list of recommendations for you. 27 wines at the moment (November 1) and growing as I taste and “discover” more Champagnes I want you to drink.
Free wine advice from a former Napa wine shop owner & sommelier
Why trust and use my Champagne picks? Glad you asked. It’s a given that I’ve tasted everything I’ve reviewed and rated. Going beyond “this is really good,” I also tell you about the style of the Champagne/Sparkling. Some are dryer, some fruitier, some more austere. I tell you, or at least try to, which style each Champagne is, or what type of Champagne drinker should buy it. In conjunction, I often write something like, “this is the perfect wine for you if you like (blank).” Because, you know, it depends on what you like and what you’re doing with it.
For one-on-one help in finding the best Champagnes/Sparklings for your needs, you just need to do two things: Become a DDWA Member ($5.95/month or $60/year) and ask me. Happy to help.
Before you check out my Champagne/Sparkling picks, a few relevant thoughts.
- My recent tastings convince me that the quality of Grower Champagnes (the wineries own their vineyards) imported into the US is better than ever. Acid/fruit/textures are consistently in balance.
- Overall quality applies to the under $50/bottle category, which is where I draw the line for “bargain Champagne.” Choose carefully and you can drink like a champ. That’s where I can help.
- Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s the wines, but I’m slowly warming up to the Extra Brut category. This category of dryer-than-Brut seems more balanced and delicious than in years past when all I could taste is acid. Brut Nature/no dosage I still don’t understand…to me they taste like wines for masochists.
- I include high-end Champagne recommendations for you that all stay under the $100/bottle barrier. These Champagnes, most of them vintage, are as good as it gets. You’re paying for more than what’s in the bottle over $100/bottle, like prestige and image and, which both come from great marketing. The main exception to this fact is if it’s an older vintage Champagne. If you’re at all price conscious, keep the wines under $100/bottle and with my help you’ll be just fine.
- If I review it that means I recommend it.
And of all these recommendations, these are the ones I most highly recommend. My Top 12:
Gaston Chiquet “Cuvee de Reserve”
Gaston Chiquet “Tradition”
R.H. Coutier Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru
Vilmart “Cuvee Rubis”
Pierre Gimonnet, Extra Brut
Pierre Callot Blanc de Blancs
Mousse “L’Or d’Eugene – Perpetuelle Blanc de Noirs”
Jean Lallement, Brut, Grand Cru
H. Goutorbe, Blanc de Blancs
H. Goutorbe “Special Club” 2006
Francois Bedel “Origin’elle” Extra Brut
R. GEOFFROY “Cuvee Volupte” 2009
- Members, be my guest to ask me for assistance. Tell me what style you’re looking for, and budget. I’ll help you along.