Binny’s Mailbag: Champagne Recommendation

Here’s another peek into Binny’s Mailbag:

 

Hello:

Can you give me a champagne/sparkling wine recommendation in the $10 – $15 range? I would prefer something that is not too dry.

Thanks,

Mark

 

Hi Mark,

 

Sounds like Prosecco would be right up your alley. This light, delicate sparkler from northern Italy tends to be not as dry as true Champagne. A favorite of ours is the Nino Franco Rustico. It’s always a value, and you’ll see extra savings this month when you use your Binny’s Card.

 

You would probably also love the Gruet Extra Dry - a stunner of a value, this is made in New Mexico (of all places!)  by a French family. This is also just $12.99 with the Binny’s card in December, and is just off-dry with very fine bubbles. They make it using Methode Champenoise, the same processes used in Champagne.

Binny’s Mailbag: Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut

We’re back with another question from the Binny’s Mailbag.

 

Dear Binny’s Mailbag -

White Star is my favorite Champagne. Why don’t you stock it any more? Can you order some for me?

- W.S.

 

Hello W.S.!

 

Good question. The short answer is that Moet no longer makes White Star.

 

The more honest, complicated and rambling answer is that the product that used to be called “White Star” has undergone an evolution in style and branding over the last few years. In the very same spot on Binny’s shelves that once held White Star, you will now find Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut. Moet cites shifting consumer expectations and a better representation of the house style as motivation for this gradual change.

 

We were a bit stunned a few years ago when Moet announced that they were changing the name of Moet White Star to Moet Imperial. Everything else on the bottle and label stayed the same except for the brand name. The formula shifted a little, too. The new Imperial was a touch more dry than White Star, but shared the same characteristic breadth and weight with the iconic extra dry. And for about a year, customers couldn’t believe us when we told them about the change.

 

The brand is now making a second shift. The Imperial label now carries the word Brut, meaning an even more dry, streamlined, fresh and elegant Champagne. Watch for that word – Brut – to know which Imperial you are buying. As the transition happens, any Binny’s location may have one, or the other, or even both, until the older blend has sold through.

 

Now let’s get geeky. What makes this new Imperial Brut fresher and lighter? The biggest factor is lower dosage, meaning less sugar is added into the bottles during aging. Specifically 9 g/liter. Sugar feeds the yeast that make the bubbles, but there’s often a little left over, giving the wine some sweetness and breadth. Less dosage means a leaner Champagne. Also, there is more chardonnay and less pinot noir in the assemblage, giving the wine more structure and less fruit weight. Plus the each bottle of Imperial Brut sees more time in the cellar – an increase from 18 up to 24 months, lending more maturity and a finer bead.

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Binny’s Mailbag: A Special Champage

Let’s take another peek into the Binny’s Mailbag:

 

Can you help me choose a good Champagne for our 15 year anniversary? We are not wine or Champagne drinkers and are looking for something that is really good. Price not an object, but I don’t want to overpay for something I will not appreciate.

thx

- M

 

Hi! Wow, that’s a loaded question.

First of all, happy anniversary!

Okay, not to be argumentative, but price really is an object. You’re absolutely right to not want to pay a lot for something you might not even like. We don’t want that. We have had folks tell us that price doesn’t matter, but then get offended when we suggest they spend fifteen dollars on a bottle, and others who turned up their noses at forty dollar bottles. It’s all relative.

Plus, we could recommend a Champagne that every critic on the planet agrees is the best, but if you don’t like Champagne, you still won’t like it. If your favorite thing to drink as a couple was pineapple vodka in sprite, well, that would be our first recommendation. Drink what you like!

Krug Grande CuveeNicolas Feuillate Brut   You say you’re not a Champagne drinker, so it’s hard to know what you would appreciate. Would you say your tastes are more on the sweeter side or the drier side? Have you had any wines that you liked or didn’t like? What was it about them that caught your attention? If we can narrow down your tastes a bit, we can surely find something special that you’ll love.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions of sparklers we love at different prices. If you’re looking for something more on the dry side (which would be our preference), try these. For less than $20, Roederer Estate Brut is great. It’s from Anderson Valley in California, and carries the Roederer (the famous French Champagne house that makes Cristal) fingerprint. For about $30, try Nicolas Feuillate Brut. Actually from Champage, this never fails, and is the more light-bodied of our suggestions here – a good choice for you if you’re not used to drinking Champagne. For around $50, one of our all-time faves is Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. We still think it’s a value at fifty bucks (even if you’re not looking for a value). It’s  just that classy. And if you really, really mean that price is no object, the way to go is Krug Grande Cuvee. This is world-class stuff.

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