Theres no better way to celebrate International Champagne Day than by enjoying a glass of bubbly! Below is a selection of bottles. Each represents a distinctive style, each one a benchmark of its type. Cheers!
Aubry Brut Premier Cru
Most Champagne houses purchase at least some of their fruit from local farmers. A small number of GROWER CHAMPAGNE estates, however, cultivate their own vineyards and harvest their own fruit. A small detail, perhaps. Yet the wines yielded by such producers - such as those by Aubry - offer a fascinating alternative to the admittedly excellent blends of the Grandes Marques, which are often a blend of the holy trinity: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. Philippe and Pierre Aubry's Brut also includes some arbanne, petit meslier, pinot blanc, and pinot gris - all which impart lime and citrus hints as well as an exotic note that none of the holy trinity can express. White apricots, apples, limes, and a smoky note - all find themselves in this intriguing blend.
Taittinger Cuvee Prestige
A textbook SANS ANNÉE (or without a year) that highlights the virtues of the non-vintage blend. Taittinger owns and enjoys a broad collection of vineyards from which to source their fruit - largely chardonnay, which comprises 37% of their vineyard holdings, as opposed to 27% on average owned by other comparable proprietors. Chardonnay is more expensive to employ than either pinot noir or pinot meunier, which impart richness, structure, and spice. But the white varietal ensures and encourages energy and elegance - a hallmark of all Champagne, and a virtue that shines through in all Taittinger wines. Bakery notes, apricots, orange blossoms, and a sappy citrus note in the long finish mark this stunning cuvee.
Pierre Peters Cuvee de Reserve
Most Champagne is a blend of both white and red varietals. A number of cuvees known as BLANC DE BLANCS, however, are comprised entirely of chardonnay, which often yields especially vibrant citrus and mineral infused wines - in other words, the classic apertif style so beloved by Champagne enthusiasts. Comprised of 100% chardonnay sourced from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (arguably the finest source for chardonnay in all of Champagne), the Cuvee de Reserve offers an intensity and purity of flavors almost unmatched at this price point. Focused notes of yellow apples, quinine, candied citrus, and a smoky mineral note that lingers long into the finish - you'll find all in this stunning bottle.
Tarlant Brut Zero
From one of the pioneers of zero dosage, a textbook BRUT NATURE. Many champagne houses will add a liqueur dexpédition to their wine. But not all. Some estates choose to bottle a cuvee without dosage, crafting in turn a champagne that is sans maquillage, or without makeup. Doing away with dosage can leave a wine too austere or sharp on the palate. But should the assembled wine be of the highest quality - as Benoit Tarlants invariably are - what you will have is an especially intense and uncluttered expression of champagne. Buttery pastries, honey roasted nuts, ripe yellow fruit, and wisps of smoke - all you will find in this bottle, forcefully expressed with mind-boggling clarity and detail.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve
Arguably the finest Champagne SANS ANNÉE, due entirely to the efforts of the late Daniel Thiebault, who between 1985 until his all too early death in 2002 oversaw the transformation of Charles Heidsieck's value-for-money Brut into the stunning Brut Reserve. His decision to amass a vast stock of 8-10 year old reserve wines of course came at an initial loss of sales, which CH accountants fortunately overlooked in favor of a more complex wine. Brioche, honey, peaches, lemon hints, and saline suggestions - this stunning play of flavors is matched by few other champagne cuvees. A benchmark wine.
Laurent Perrier Brut Rose
From one of the Grand Marques of Champagne, a ROSE brut comprised entirely of pinot noir. Laurent Perrier was among the first houses to embrace stainless steel fermentation tanks, which permitted especially cool fermentation temperatures that in turn preserve the fresh fruit notes and energy earned in Champagnes cool vineyards. Those fresh notes and energy are now telltale LP hallmarks, and are in full display in the brut rose. Whats more, the pinot noir sourced for LPs brut rose are from Grand Cru vineyards, instilling power and persistence into the brut rose. Bright red cherries and strawberries, lively tangerines, an insistent mousse, as well as a persistent floral note - LPs brut rose offers a wealth of flavors matched by few others.
The very first commercial prestige cuvee and undoubtedly among the finest cuvees of VINTAGE CHAMPAGNE - though equalled, none have surpassed it. Its fruit is sourced from eight Grand Cru vineyard plots, as well as from one Premier Cru plot in Hautvillers, home village of the abbey of Dom Perignon. The fruit ferments and undergoes transformation in stainless steel tanks, ensuring not only freshness upon release but also a transparency of flavors that few other tete de cuvees can display. Mandarin oranges, creme de cassis, espresso, toasted almonds, exotic spices, and mineral hints - all are seamlessly woven together, leaving a mouthwatering impression that lingers long on the palate. A life-affirming champagne.
Krug Grande Cuvee
To Krug enthusiasts, this multi-vintage PRESTIGE CUVEEis first among equals. As opposed to other houses (where the the vintage cuvee enjoys pride of place), at Krug the Grand Cuvee is given preference over any vintage that may or may not be produced on any given year. Eric Lebel, Krug's winemaker, can draw from over 4000 barriques for the Grand Cuvee, permitting a depth and complexity almost unrivalled in all of Champagne. Quince, black cherries, candied oranges, honey, roasted walnuts, lemons, and cardamon - the wealth of flavors found in this aromatic and inviting wine is other-worldly. A study in power and finesse.
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