In tasting some 75 Champagnes and sparkling wines from other appellations the past few weeks, I found a dozen worth recommending at prices ranging from $15 to almost $200. The wines that seemed to stand out in tasting up to 20 wines in one setting typically had a higher percentage of Pinot Noir in their cuvees. This added another dimension to both the nose and the palate with light stemminess, nutmeg, and weediness to contrast with aromas from the yeast and other varietals.
Prices are approximate. The wines are non-vintage cuvees unless otherwise identified with a vintage date and listed in order of how they scored.
Krug, Grand Cuvee, non-vintage, Brut, $150.
Louis Roederer, Champagne Cristal Brut, 2004, $190.
Vilmart “Cuvee Grand Cellier,” $80 (Pinot Noir, 70 percent).
Louis Barthelemy “Saphir,”2002, $50.
Pol Roger “White Foil” Brut Reserve, $40.
Veuve Clicquot, La Grand Dame, 1998, $120 (Pinot Noir, 64 percent).
Moet & Chandon, 2002, $70 (Declassified Dom Perignon).
Vilmart “Cuvee Creation,” 2000, $140.
Veuve Clicquot, Rose Reserve, 2004, $85 (Pinot Noir, 60 percent).
Canard Ducheme, Grand Cuvee, $50 (Pinot Noir, 50 percent).
Ruinart, Brut Rose, $60.
Pierre Peters, “Cuvee Reserve,” $70.
Domaine Chandon, “Etoile,” $25.
Roederer Estate, Brut, $18.
Gloria Ferrer, Blanc de Noir, $15.