How do you pick the best Champagne or sparkling wine for your next celebration? There is no single answer; palates can vary wildly. You may love dry wines and gravitate toward brut Champagnes or tend to like a hint of sweetness, and therefore, search your wine shop’s shelves for extra sec varieties. “Vintage” Champagne made from one year’s extraordinary grapes can be dazzling, but there are also breathtaking sparkling wines crafted from grapes sourced over many different years. Simply put, there is a world of options waiting for you. If you are on the hunt for a fabulous bubbly to sip and serve, read on as we reveal the best Champagne and sparkling wine to try right now.
2008 Mod Selection Réserve Vintage
The experts at Food & Wine agree that if you want to be considered an expert on everything Champagne, you’ll want to sip, savor, and sip again the 2008 Mod Selection Réserve Vintage. It’s an extravagance at $480 per bottle. Still, between the masterminds behind the Champagne and the extraordinary growing conditions that year, it’s an experience you are unlikely to forget. The Magazine confides: “The raconteur masterminds behind Mod are Brent Hocking (known for DeLeón Tequila and Virginia Black whiskey) and hip-hop artist Drake (aka Champagne Papi).” What makes the 2008 Mod Selection Réserve Vintage one of the best Champagnes in the world? Food & Wine applauds: “[This] will age superbly well, and you’ll find warm, toasty aromas open up to orange peel, apricot, and rich baking spices. [It is] full-bodied with super-fine beading and nicely balanced.”
2007 Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne
Although wine critics and oenophiles rarely agree, when it comes to the 2007 Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne, the reviews are unanimous. This Champagne is stunning. James Suckling gives it 98 points exclaiming: “Fine and tight bead give the Champagne a luxurious mouthfeel,” and it showcases “lemon zest, green apples and hints of white peaches.” If you look for minerality in your Champagne, you’ll love the chalky minerality here. It will age brilliantly, so you can certainly place this in your cellar for years to come. However, it’s going to be nearly impossible not to open it immediately. The price point is high, averaging around $250 per bottle if you can locate one (2006 is even more dear). But you will almost certainly love every precious drop.
Krug Grande Cuvée Champagne 168th Edition
The Krug Champagne house has been blending grapes to produce extraordinary Champagne since 1843, and, as the digital magazine Liquor.com reveals, “each year, this bottle is formulated from 250 different vineyard plots and as many as 150 reserve wines from up to 12 different vintages.” It’s another example of a Champagne that offers beautiful complexity. The Magazine reports: “The Grande Cuvée captures the pure essence of great Champagne—bright, crisp, vivid, with layers of intricate baking spices, apple pastry, pear tart, and distinctly chalky minerality.” The color is light gold, and you’ll understand from the first sip why this House is known for producing one of the best Champagnes in the world. Liquor.com‘s editor, Kathryn Maier, cheers: “Krug Grande Cuvée is my personal go-to whenever I can justify the cost. Its bold yet refined flavor and fine bead make it a true delight to sip.”
Not surprisingly, The Krug Rosé is also delightful and ideal for anyone who enjoys delicate strawberry notes. And if you are a collector, keep your eye out for the 1928 Krug. The last bottle that came to auction sold for more than $21,000, but if you adore savoring the aged notes of apricot and honey and the bragging rights for winning one of the most expensive Champagnes in the world, get ready to bid.
NV Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut
The Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut is another terrific example of a non-vintage Champagne. Critic James Suckling declared this particular Champagne unique because of its “simultaneously mellow and lively balance and the harmoniously dry finish” and “discreet citrus, apple-ring, and toasty character.” It is an elegant sip, golden straw in color, and it offers a fresh crispness that works perfectly on its own or when paired with food. Speaking of pairings, Food & Wine highly recommends trying this with your own version of “Oysters Rocafella,” originally crafted by Mario Carbone to honor Jay-Z and his Roc-A-Fella record label. In it, the Magazine reports, “Carbone tops the oysters with a tangy vinegar-shallot mignonette, plus a Champagne-infused foam and frozen Champagne grapes.” Pair the dish with the Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut, and get ready to feel like a star.
NV Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé
The Jouët family is noted for being not only incredible winemakers but for making wine with food in mind. This sparkling rosé lives up to this ideal, and it would be one of the best Champagnes you could choose for any food-forward event, from dinner parties to divinely indulgent nights at home. You’ll love the natural acidity and the soft fruit notes on the palate. Food & Wine is undoubtedly a fan. If you are searching for a delightful brunch, dinner, or cocktail party appetizer to pair with it, they adore its play against the flavors of glazed-beet-and-burrata toasts. Curious about how to make the snack bold enough to pair with the Champagne? The Magazine reveals: “To intensify the flavor of boiled beets and form a rich glaze, chef David Hawksworth cooks them a second time in sherry vinegar and sugar.”
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
Veuve Clicquot is almost always a good idea. And at other times, it is a great one. The distinctive yellow label is iconic, making it one of the most recognizable Champagne bottles in the world. The Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut frequently finds itself on lists of the best Champagnes. Although the honor of the rarest of the Veuve Clicquot Champagnes goes to the 1841 Veuve Clicquot, bottles of which were rescued (perfectly preserved) from the bottom of the Baltic Sea. While most of the bottles were sent to a museum, a few were sold at auction, fetching an impressive $37,000 per bottle.
However, if you want to gift yourself or a loved one another impressive bottle of Veuve Clicquot, Liquor.com recommends Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame. The Magazine reveals: “Clicquot tapped Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama to design a special label and presentation box for their prestige cuvée, the vintage-dated La Grande Dame 2012.” Happily, the taste is everything you expect from Veuve and more. The Magazine raves: “As for the taste, beautiful toasty notes of crème brûlée and honeycomb find pops of fragrant white flowers and honeysuckle. Granny Smith apple, Bosc pear, and lemon zest add layers of complexity, while a fine thread of stony minerality solidifies this remarkable Champagne.”
2007 Agustí Torelló Mata “Kripta” Cava Brut Penedes
Gorgeous sparkling wine is being produced in Spain right now, including some Cava that will make you an instant fan. The indigenous grapes wearing the Cava designation are just one of the reasons that Cava has such a unique flavor profile. The grapes are the foundation of sparkling wines known for their acidity, freshness, and rich character. If you are new to the designation, Food & Wine thinks that the 2007 Agustí Torelló Mata “Kripta” Cava Brut Penedes is among the best. The Magazine confides: “The football-shaped bottle may be bizarre, but the old-vine Cava inside it is one of the region’s most subtle and nuanced.” If you are already a Cava fan, you’ll love this vintage’s toasty bread, white fruit, spice, and fennel notes. Robert Parker rates this wine with an enthusiastic 93 points; “The palate has clean, pungent, delineated, sharp citric acidity, good integration and balance, and a long aftertaste.” It’s hard to find, so you might be tempted to buy two: One to sip and share and one to save for the next balmy evening.
Podere il Saliceto ‘L’Albone’ Lambrusco di Modena
Some of the best sparkling wines are not expensive – and they aren’t white. In fact, Food & Wine adores the latest generation of Lambrusco sparklers. The Magazine raves: “It used to be assumed that all Lambrusco was sweet, since the U.S. market was flooded with that type in the ’70s and ’80s, but secco (dry) styles are now widely available and great as an aperitivo—like a vivacious, bitter, and fruity warm-up for another more serious wine—or with anything from salumi and cheese to simple savory fare.”
If you are new to Lambrusco, Food & Wine recommends trying the Podere il Saliceto’ L’Albone’ Lambrusco di Modena, made in stainless steel using natural fermentation. It has no filtering or fining and minimal sulfur. It has a lovely long finish and bright mineral accents. You (and your guests) will be thrilled that you gave it a try.
2011 Best‘s Great Western Sparkling Shiraz
It’s already unusual to sip sparkling red wine, but it’s even rarer to find hosts serving a sparkling Australian Shiraz. This is the time to give it a sip, particularly if you want something that captivates the palate at your next brunch or barbecue (it’s also a Christmas favorite for Aussies). Food & Wine suggests sipping 2011 Best‘s Great Western Sparkling Shiraz; “The red fizz is as broodingly dark violet in the glass as its still counterpart, and while it tends to sport gobs of brambly fruit, it can also share still Shiraz’s savory bacon-and-herb aromas.” Not surprisingly, given those notes, you can’t go wrong pairing it with options like barbecue ribs, Chinese roasted duck, bacon and egg brunch dishes, roasted turkey, or creamy dark chocolate mousse.
Prosecco Rosé is on its way. It might not be immediately clear why this inexpensive sipper is a cause for celebration, but the announcement was met with delight by oenophiles everywhere. Why? Prosecco and rosé were never allowed to mix. Martha Stewart Living explains: “While sparkling rosé wine has been on the market for many years, the official rules from the designation of origin (DOC) for Prosecco did not permit pink versions of Italy’s signature sparkling beverage. Three winemakers—Mionetto, La Marca, and Gancia—are toasting the launch of their own Prosecco Rosé D.O.C. in the United States for the first time ever.” So, if you want something genuinely not seen in the United States until quite recently at your next festive gathering, it’s time to buy a bottle or two to see which one will please your palate the best.
Martha Stewart Living shares that the Mionetto Prosecco Rosé DOC is an impeccably balanced sparkling wine “redolent of red berries, grapefruit, and honey.” The winemakers behind the La Marca Prosecco describe it as balancing “the crisp floral flavor of traditional Prosecco with the fresh notes of strawberry and peach found in a bottle of Pinot Noir.” Meanwhile, the Gancia Prosecco Rosé is fresh and fruity with beautiful notes of red berries. Let the Prosecco Rosé adventures begin!
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