New Year's Celebration: Champagne Splurge

531192447_e03d6afda81This is the time of year for celebration with all of the holidays and New Year's Eve upon us.  There are festivities and parties, and nothing says splurge like Champagne.  It is a beverage that was originally sought over 150 years ago by royalty in every nation, and today means celebration for all classes.  While people love Champagne and it is the undisputed king of sparkling wine, the costs have risen sharply over the last decade.  New wealth in countries like Russia and China have raised demand, with only a marginal increase in production.  Other areas and countries have gotten into sparkling wine production, with good value and success, but Champagne remains on top.

If you are looking for some value with your Champagne splurge for the New Year, the Windy City Wine Guy has some picks for you.

Here are five great valued Champagne choices:

  • Piper Heidsieck Brut NV ($25).  I like the minerality, lemon citrus, and light ginger spice on this sparkler.  It finishes long but a bit tart.  Also widely available with over 60,000 cases imported to the US.

  • Comte Audoin de Dampierre Grand Cuvée NV ($39).  A medium weight dry champagne with rich citrus, brioche, creamy character.

  • Philipponat Royal Reserve Brut NV ($40).  Extremely complex with bread, yeast, and ripe red fruit on the nose, and lime and black currant on the palate.  Loaded with flavor and crisp acidity.

  • Henri Mandois Origine Brut NV ($40).  Ripe pear, baked lemon, and toasty vanilla highlight this crisp champagne selection.

Now for those who feel like throwing down, I have three great choices:

  • 1999 Dom Perignon ($120).  My wife and I chose this as our anniversary celebration wine.  The aromas and flavors exuded are a life experience.  So complex with smells of flowers, pineapple, cinnamon, and hints of cocoa.  The taste of meyer lemon, anise, and smokey oak combine well with crisp earth tones and an alarming long flavor.

  • 1996 Salon Blanc de Blancs ($270).  This wine is only produced in extremely good years.  Flinty minerality and loads of lemon/lime citrus accompany yeast and bready goodness.  The rich creaminess and acidity keep this wine fresh and lively for years to come.

  • Krug Grande Cuvée Brut NV ($160).  Krug is the king of Champagne houses, turning out the most quality (and pricey!) wines available.  Their Non-Vintage explodes with coconut, coffee bean, toast, and sugared citrus.  Deep and complex.

Just a couple of hints when you are picking your Champagne.  Vintage Champagne is created in only special years, those where the grapes are allowing to grow and ripen to full potential.  These wines will exude the best that year has to offer.  Non-Vintage (NV) Champagnes are made to be consistent in accordance to the Champagne house's specified recipe.  Each release should taste the same as the next, as they blend different varietals and vintages, offering a delicious and reliable product. 

If you would like to try a variable sweetness level, remember that Brut Natural is the driest.  It then goes up to Extra Brut, and Brut.  You will start to taste more sweetness with Extra Dry, then Sec, Demi-Sec, and Doux being the sweetest.  Also remember that Rosé wines are pink and fruity, but can be just as dry the clear sparkling wines, depending upon their rating.

Enjoy the Champagne and enjoy New Year!

(Image courtesy of flickr)