Champagne Recommendations for the Holidays
Holidays need Champagne, much for the reasons Napoleon indicated. Champagne evens the ups and downs of life, family, and friends. It allows pause in an over-programmed life.
I am not one to buy grower over house or extol the superiority of one methodology. These days, Champagne has never been better, from the entry-level house cuvees to the single-vineyard grower wines, the special club, and the solera method masterpieces – there is so much to be excited about with Champagne.
Below is a selection that represents some of my favourites from the past year – many are available in BC, some in our pacific northwest neighbours Washington and Oregon. All are compelling in their own way and perfect fodder for the holidays.
Starting with a new discovery from Marquis, the Pouillon wines are balanced, characterful, and delicious. This wine avoids the lactic notes or clumsy fruit of some cheaper grower champagnes and offers great value. I thought it was great so I picked up the rest from the range. Very Good+. $73 + tax at Marquis Wine Cellars.
Bereche is one of my favourite growers in Champagne, bar none. Their champagnes may be truer to terroir than 95% of Champagne and their series of single-vineyard bottlings are revelatory. This 100% Chardonnay is made in a semi-oxidative style and is fundamentally idiosyncratic. You would never mistake this for a blended style. Excellent. $120 + tax at various private stores.
I am adding two champagnes from Bereche because you have to drink at least two to understand how terroir-driven these are. This stunning, dry, rose is a must. It may be the best rose champagne I have had, beating out the likes of Egly-Ouriet and Larmandier-Bernier. Excellent+. $140 + tax at private stores.
Staying on the path of terroir-driven Champagne we find this masterpiece by Bouchard. This 2014 disgorgement of the 2010 vintage of one of his top vineyards of old-vine pinot noir is among the best wines in Champagne, if you can find it. Excellent+. $200 USD + tax in the United States.
Special Club deserves mention. This Gaston Chiquet is great value for a long-ageing champagne. If you have the 2011 now it will be good, but if you wait another 5 years it will be great. Excellent. $100 + tax at Marquis
Chartogne-Taillet is one of the top grower-producers today. The Chemin de Reims is a good indicator of their style, being minerally and taught. I think this needs time to fully show itself. Very Good+ to Excellent. ~$80 USD + tax.
A perfect way to slip into house champagne is the inimitable Jacquesson. Their numbered series is legendary in Champagne and this late-disgorged bottling a perfect example of what ageing does to champagne. This will impress pretty much everyone. Excellent. $144 + tax at Marquis.
This is Vilmart’s top wine and is a beautiful example of blended Champagne with a personality. Made in a drier style than many other tete de cuvees, but still very elegant and drinkable, this is a stunner. Excellent. $180 at BCLDB.
Piper Heidsieck’s tete de cuvee is relative good value for a top house wine, particularly this 2002, which is one of the best vintages in Champagne in the last 20 years. This is fully hedonistic champagne that is more of a ‘cocktail’ champagne than a dinner champagne. It is undeniably delicious. Excellent. $220 + tax at BCLDB
Dom Ruinart is often looked over compared to the other Dom. But it is always completely delicious. Yes it has a bit more dosage and is designed to be soft and luscious. But why criticize it for owning those qualities? I’ll never complain to get a glass of this. Excellent. $200 + tax at BCLDB.
I saved the grand-daddy for last. Egly Ouriet’s grand cru vintage dated wines are some of the very best in Champagne. This 2007 is in an absolutely perfect place right now and will knock the socks off any self-respecting wine-appreciator. It is all caramel, brioche, apple, with minerals laced through. Not at all sweet, and still holding good carbonation. Excellent+. $180 + tax at private stores.
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