Do you buy champagne because of the gas? Or do you fall in love with champagne because it's good wine first? Samantha Dugan explains that the most interesting wines in Champagne have more in common with great wines everywhere than they do with other mediocre fizzy wines.
Okay, folks. Brace yourselves. Get ready for your local wine merchant to lay some deep truth upon you. I know it will be difficult to hear, even harder to absorb and comprehend, but I implore you, hear me out and try for a second to understand that my uncomfortable words come a place of education, experience, and decades of fierce devotion to a specific wine region.
Ready? Here goes,
Not all Champagne is good.
In actuality, there is a flood of boring bubbly wines coming from Champagne and some of it is downright dreadful, to be honest.
Poorly made base wines being the biggest culprit, that and the fact that people can be dizzied by bubbles when celebrating, add to that the fact that so many people never really think of Champagne as a wine, as in thinking to swirl, sniff and truly evaluate what’s in the glass beneath those racy bubbles, well there really isn’t much incentive for the big factory Champagne producers to change the way they have been doing it all these years.
Now see, this is what I cherish about our wicked cool customers, you all are way, way ahead of the curve. Our Champagne events are some of our most feverishly attended and we’ve not had a Champagne from one of those huge monster facilities in well over a decade, nearly two in fact. Your fierce support and thirst for these wines is what inspires us to be highly critical and steadfast in making sure that each and every bottle of Champagne on our shelf is way over-performing for its price. Not always easy, but entirely worth it!
We’ve had an amazing string of really amazing bubbles come across the tasting table the past few months and here are a few that really blew our minds. Handcrafted, small production wines with gorgeous length and power. Holidays are coming, everyone, so stock up on these gorgeous wines from our beloved Champagne!
N.V. Pertois-Lebrun “Instant”
Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs, Cramant
Welcome to California, you stunning Champagne! First time in the state and we could not be more thrilled to add you to our grower Champagne department. 100% Chardonnay from the famed Grand Cru village of Cramant. Doughy pastry and pie crust wrapped around baked green apples, warm spice and a tough of mineral. Quite long and with a nice tangy lift on the finish.
$49.99 per bottle
N.V. Pertois-Lebrun “Exaltation”
Champagne Grand Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Cramant
Now this is a very serious wine, especially for the price. Gorgeous richness on the nose. Yeasty, chalky, citrus rind, unbaked bread dough and some creamy lemon curd. The fact that this is an Extra Brut makes it perfect to serve with food! Think oysters, scallops and other sea creatures. Serious texture here and with tiny, tiny bubbles.
$56.99 per bottle
N.V. Pertois-Lebrun “Le Fond Du Bateau”
Champagne Grand Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs, Cramant
Okay, now this is a wine for the serious Champagne nerd. Very low dosage here, so very dry, but so very intense and precise. Beautiful curve on the palate, almost Chablis like in flavor but with more of that toasty, pastry flavor along with a really cool apple rind note. Think roasted foods chicken or seafood, maybe even something eggy and cheesy. Super fine bubbles with a extremely persistent finish. Goes on forever!
$76.99 per bottle
N.V. Vauversin Champagne Grand Cru
Brut Blanc de Blancs, Oger
We have been floored by how much brilliant Blanc de Blancs we have been seeing lately and this offering from Vauversin is exceptional for the price. Made from certified organic Chardonnay there is a delightful tension and texture here. The aromatics reminded us of some of the wines from the great villages of Burgundy. Luscious baked flavors with remarkable layering. Such a lovely wine and that price is thrilling.
$45.99 per bottle
2010 Vauversin Champagne Grand Cru Extra Brut, Oger
This astoundingly delicate wine stole our hearts with one sip. Brought it in for one of our famous Champagne and fried chicken nights and we were made dizzy by how beautifully it showed with those crunchy, salty bites. Made from older vines you get an amazing amount of intensity and fruit for an Extra Brut. Baked citrus, warmed cream, toast with lemon butter. Powerful but as I said, retains this almost flirty delicateness. Super rare and a real heart stopper.
$71.99 per bottle
N.V. Leclerc Briant Champagne Brut, Epernay
We were pretty excited when we were tasted by our friend, and ex-staffer Amy Mullally on this wine. Here we fall back to the more yeasty, powerful and dense style Champagne that so many people fell in love with Champagne for. Straight up pie crust and toast with hints of honey and cooked fruits. Nice big mouthfeel with small bubbles but big weight.
$60.99 per bottle
N.V. Leclerc Briant Champagne Brut Rosé, Epernay
Much like the Brut from this estate there is plenty of abundant richness and power but here you get more of a red fruited aroma and flavor. Again there is plenty of toasty and yeasty flavors but plenty of pretty Pinot Noir red cherry and an added creaminess on the long, brilliant finish.
$67.99 per bottle