No doubt you are winning at something if you are drinking Champagne, especially French Champagne. The stuff is golden nectar of the gods poured in a glass. Here’s to hoping that this New Year’s Eve you can stare at the sparkling section of your local wine purveyor with some basic understanding of the labels. It can be confusing especially when there is so much French involved. “It’s all French to me.” as someone recently said. But is it really with Prosecco and Cava involved? And of course there are the delicious domestics. Sparkling wine is made around the world but only called Champagne if it is made in the Champagne region in France using a specific method. Methode-Champenoise is a labor intensive and costly process by which the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle, creating bubbles. Champagne can range in sweetness based on the dosage, or how much sugar is added. Sugar is often but not always added during the traditional Methode-Champenoise and what amount is added will dictate the label. Below is a list of designations starting from least amount of sugar added to most amount.
Doux- 50+ g/L
Demi-Sec- 33–50 g/L
Exta-Sec -12-20 g/L
Extra- Brut – 0–6 g/L
Brut Nature – 0–3 g/L
*Extra Dry is found on domestic sparkling wine bottles and actually means less dry than brut but not sec or secco which would be deemed sweeter.
At the shop we have many options ranging in price from Louis Perdrier sparkling wine to vintage Dom Perignon. Vintage champagnes are made from grapes grown in a single exemplary growing season. These are supreme examples of what champagne can be and are therefore often costly. Perhaps a great way to celebrate an abundant year with friends and family is with a vintage champagne. We stock a couple that deliver Dom taste without the price such as L’Armandier-Bernier and the famed Bollinger, favored by James Bond. We also have a selection of the best value prosecco, cava and sparkling wines from Spain, Italy and the USofA. Here are some of our favorite NV (non-vintage) and vintage French bottles we stock for your convenience and pleasure.
Louis Perdrier NV Brut– High quality French sparkling wine. Notes of apples, some richness with a citrus finish. Great for a budget and any party!
Forget Brimont NV Brut– Sophisticated champagne in the $25.00 range from family run winery. Offering notes of ripe gala apples, ginger and biscuit. Shows fine balance and elegance.
Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Blanc de Blancs– Family owned and run Champagne House. Deep, wide aromas—cumin, buttery pie crust. Shows good length and presence on the palate; flavors are zesty citrus enveloped in a smooth minerality. A good apéritif.
Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rosé Pale strawberry-pink color. Light raspberry and white pepper aromas, with a raspberry crème brûlée flavor profile. Clean and dry, with good length and heft.
Moet & Chandon NV Imperial Rosé This solid, muscular rosé might be the ticket to turning a red wine devotee on to Champagne. Flinty around the edges, with tight, tart red fruit.
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin 2004 La Grand Dame– Intense, serious and persistent. Yellow stone fruit flavors are bright but kept in check with mineral, herb and citrus peel through the finish.
L’ Armandier- Bernier 2002 Premier Cru– Growers Sophia and Pierre L’Armandier focus on organic farming. They use low doasage or no dosage in their Blanc de Blanc which is 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir as traditional method dictates.This vintage is broad and rich, scoring over 95 pts with Robert Parker. It is clean, refreshing and fabulous to pair with a New Years Dinner.
Bollinger La Grand Annee 2004 Extra- Brut– exceptional vintage with 90 plus ratings from Parker and Tanzer! Notes of toasted bread and candied fruit, rhubarb, notes of exotic spices. Perfectly balanced and pleasing in any application. And this champagne is featured in James Bond films! So, you can drinky it and be classy and continental like that!
Any way you choose to celebrate you will win with these selections! Remember whatever you choose, to drink responsibly.