In tasting a wide range of sparkling wines over the past few months, with prices ranging from $15 to more than $200 and up to 11 years old, we found several that stood out. The older Champagnes are worth seeking out for special occasions. They always offer more complex noses and lush finishes. Some will fare better than others in retaining even a slight crispness on the palate, depending upon the producer and the vintage.
Beyond toasting special occasions, sparkling wine can go well with food. If you like a particular style (Brut, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noir, non-vintage blends), check the websites of the Champagne houses and see what wine-
making information they offer. Some of the major national merchants (K&L Wines, Hart Davis Hart and Acker Merrall, among others) have descriptive websites. You can also compare web merchant prices with those of your local merchant. Cheers, and here’s to a flavorful and fun 2017.
- Tasty value Cremant d’Alsace NV Lucien Albrecht $16. Light yeast, strawberry nose (100% Pinot Noir); mid-body; decent acids; big bubbles; fruity finish.
- One of our house favorites, Roederer Estate Brut, Anderson Valley, California, $18. Light yeast nose, citrus; mid-body; balanced acids; long fruity finish.
- Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne Brut $44. Yeasty, flowery nose, mineral hints; mid-body; good acids; long semi-crisp finish.
- Gremillet NV Brut Selection Champagne $31. Big yeasty nose; citrus; nutty; mid-body; soft, big bubbles; long semi-crisp finish. Easy drinking.
- Perrier-Jouet NV Grand Brut $35. Sharp mid-straw gold; light yeast, green apple, citrus, mineral nose; mid-body; tight acids; long crisp finish.
- Philipponnat 2009 (Pinot Noir) Blanc de Noirs Brut $75. Yeasty, floral, cherry nose; balanced; cherries on the palate; long tight finish; nice acid/fruit balance.
- Philipponnat 2007 Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc, Grand Blanc Brut, $75. Older Champagne nose; oxidation; yeast, minerals; good fruit on the palate for the age; elegant style; long flavorful finish.
- Alain Thienot 2005 Chardonnay Cuvee Stanislas Blanc de Blancs $80 (100 percent Chardonnay). Older yeasty Champagne nose; vanilla, honeysuckle; long lush finish.
- Gosset NV Champagne Cuvee 15 Ans $125. Light straw gold; older Champagne nose, almost oxidized undertones; mid-body; creamy; smooth older finish.
- Dom Perignon, 2006 Champagne $170. Yeasty older Champagne nose; nutty, hints of minerals. balanced; refined, softening acids, long lush finish.