This is my first wine review of what we are presenting you for when the ball drops, or any other time where Champagne is required (for me, that is all the time. More on this later).
I am separating the wines into two categories: Big House Champagne and Grower Champagne. What is the difference? Big House Champagne negotiates for grapes from all over the Champagne area and processes it in their winery. Grower Champagne comes from individual growers that make wine under their own label. It is more personal, and more often than not, can rival or surpass the quality of their Big Brothers.
Now let me say this in that there are many other “designations” of Champagne houses, big, little, cooperatives, bla bla bla, but for the sake of this review, we are keeping it simple.
***Note: the ratings given are based on what I enjoy. For example, I love Champagne that is mostly Chardonnay, and as I look back, that clearly reflects in this. What you enjoy could be completely different.
Grower Champagne Rankings
1.) NV Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru
2.) NV Aubry Brut Premier Cru
3.) NV Henri Goutorbe Prestige Brut Premier Cru
4.) NV Barnaut Blanc de Noirs Brut Grand Cru
1.) NV Gaston Chiquet Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru, äy, Champagne, France
This wine is an incredible wine for either toasting or with a meal, like Pork Tenderloin. Apples and lemon meringue make their presence known with both depth and complexity. This wine has a lasting finish with just enough acidity and flavor to make your mouth water for more.
I rate this wine 93 Points.
Our Price: 49.99
2.) NV Aubry Brut Premier Cru, Reims, Champagne, France
This is the introductory level Champagne to Aubry and it is what I would call a “pretty” wine. The wine is delicate with aromas of rose petals and chalk, but then really makes its presence known with grippy tannins that once again, make this a nice wine for heavy hors d’oeuvres like a goat cheese tart.
Mainly Pinot Meunier, with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a few other grapes in the blend.
Our Price: 38.99
3.) NV Henri Goutorbe Cuvee Prestige Brut Premier Cru, äy, Champagne, France
Crushed almonds, pear, and sweet lemons really bring this wine together and is unapologetic with so many nice citrus flavors and just a slight hint of sweet cherry on the finish. This wine is impressive.
70% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier
Our Price: 47.99
4.) NV Barnaut Blanc de Noirs Brut Grand Cru, Bouzy, Marne, Champagne, France
This is a big, fuller-bodied Champagne that is great for toasting with hints of oranges combined with a floral component. It has complexity and richness. I just wish that it had a little longer finish.
100% Pinot Noir
Our Price: 47.99
Big House Champagne
1.) NV Paul Goerg “Tradition” Brut Premier Cru, Vertus, Champagne, France
As much as I truly enjoy Grower Champagne, this wine is nothing short of amazing. It has notes of almonds, honey, butter, unctuous gobs of fruit and just flat out beautiful. This is the wine I am toasting with on New Year’s, and also pairing with such foods as Oysters, Lobster, Mushroom Risotto, or anything with Avocados.
60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir
Our Price: 41.99
2.) NV Aubert et Fils Brut, Epernay, Champagne, France
Another stunning wine, but not for the same reason as the Goerg. This is the wine that you buy by the case. It is the ultimate stocking stuffer and if you want quality without wanting to spend a lot for it, this is your wine, and my go to wine for entertaining company.
This wine is made by the famed house of Charles de Cazanove and until recently was exclusive in Parisian markets. One of our importers however, loved the quality for the price and brought back 1000 cases.
Cherry, cassis, with little hints of toast and honey make this light to medium-bodied Champagne a complete delight.
Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier
Our Price: 19.99 (not a typo)
3.) NV Louis Dumont Brut, Epernay, Champagne, France
Once again, a beautiful Champagne for the price. Honey and almonds really come to mind when tasting this wine. Medium-bodied, and full of lingering flavor with nice acidity to boot.
Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier
Our Price: 24.99
4.) NV Taittinger Brut “La Francaise,” Reims, France (375mL bottle)
What can you say about Taittinger that hasn’t been said already? It is incredible quality, year in and year out. Peaches, pears, and oranges really shine through on this wine.
Note that I bought this wine in the smaller bottles on purpose. I have had many customers come up and ask for smaller bottle selections for New Year’s, so I went with this high quality juice.
40% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir
Our Price: 21.99 (per 375mL bottle)
5.) NV Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut, äy, Champagne, France
I have to admit that whenever I think of Bollinger, I first think of James Bond. This is 007’s favorite Champagne, and with a character like Bond endorsing it, how can it be nothing but good? Now normally, this would be a setup towards an insult (a veritable “bless your heart” moment), but I can only endorse as this is classic, textbook Champagne with flavors of apricots and honey that has a creamy finish. Just a stunner of a wine.
60% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier
Our Price: 53.99
Little hints to making your Champagne experience even better!
1.) If you want to pair with cheese, avoid cheese with cow’s milk.
–Although I’m sure there is an explanation, I can’t figure out why, but cheese with sheep and goat’s milk really compliment Champagne a lot more than cow’s milk. There are always exceptions to the rule, and that rule is Brie. Double and Triple Cream cheeses are exceptional pairings for Champagne.
2.) Don’t think of Champagne as just a special occasion wine.
–Champagne is my favorite style of wine. Whether by itself or with food, I will normally pass up still wine for the bubbly. My favorite food pairing in the world? I have said this for a while, but it is Champagne and Potato Chips. Don’t knock it till you try it, because it is Heaven! That having been said, Champagne is incredibly good with a variety of foods such as seafood, vegetables, shellfish, pork, chicken and the list goes on!
3.) If there is a bad rep going on about Champagne, chances are, it isn’t Champagne’s fault.
–There are a lot of people out there that say that they don’t like Champagne. I call those people wrong. Champagne gets a bad rep from wedding toasts and large celebrations, mainly because Champagne isn’t being poured; it is something like Cooks, Totts, or Korbel. When it comes to those wines, you get what you pay for: cheap. Cheap = headaches and the next thing you know, you’re blasting Adele and apologizing to your significant other for wanting to streak at the zoo. I’ve seen it 100 times…
I hope you enjoyed this guide and I would love to hear feedback from you. Please feel free to leave a comment, or you can e-mail me at email@example.com
Thank you and have a great and safe holiday season.