The soft “puff” of the cork releasing. The gentle fizz inside the bottle. The swirl of bubbles in the glass.
There is nothing quite like sparkling wine. In colors that range from soft golden to rosy pink and even deep red, the world of sparkling wine is so varied that there is something for everyone. While lower priced selections of bubbly, including crémant, prosecco, and cava, make celebrating with a crowd easier, sometimes the party calls for real Champagne, which by E.U. law can only be named as such if made I n the Champagne region of France. Here are four name brands worth their price tags in terms of quality, enjoyment, and “ah” factor.
Dom Perignon Vintage 2005 $170
Considered the “King of Champagne”, Dom Perignon speaks for itself. While it has gotten a bit of a bad rap because of its ubiquity on fancy tables, it’s worth the price. Vintage Champagne, where a year appears on the bottle, is bottled from grapes harvested in that year alone; Dom Perignon only bottles vintage Champagnes.
Tasting Notes: The 2005 vintage is intriguing because the growing season was unpredictable, ranging from warm and dry in the spring to cool and rainy in September. A smaller yield produced grapes of exceptional quality. Intense black fruit gives way to minerality with a spicy/flowery finish. A distinctive, powerful year.
Moët & Chandon Imperial Diamond Suite $45
Decked out in its own insulated jacket, the Moët Diamond Suite arrives in a clever isothermal package that keeps the bubbly chilled for two hours. The cool delivery system and high quality make this a very reasonable price for a true French Champagne.
Tasting Notes: The Imperial is the embodiment of Moët’s house style, combining green apple and citrus notes with minerality and bread in the nose. Flavors incorporate the citrus with white fruits like apple and pear, creating a flavor profile that is rich and mature.
Perrier-Jouêt Belle Epoque 2006 $170
In late spring 2006, many Champagne growers lost their grapes, but Perrier-Jouêt escaped the frost. A hot summer followed by wet weather and then warmth in September produced perfectly ripe fruit. Composed of 50% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier.
Tasting Notes: White fruits, including pear, white peach, and grapefruit, arrive on the nose, followed by nuttiness and sweet spice. The flavors deliver on the palate with a velvety mouth feel and a bright dose of minerality. The Perrier Jouêt is one of the most exquisite bottles out there with its definitive white and apple green floral motif.
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs $70
Made with 100% Chardonnay grapes, hence the term “blanc de blancs”, this Ruinart bottling is non vintage, drawing from the best grapes in various years. Unlike other Blanc de Blancs, the Ruinart sources from both the Côtes de Blancs and Montage de Blancs regions, making for a more rounded style that still offers bright minerality.
Tasting Notes: This wine is full of fresh fruit and citrus. This is followed by white fruits (peaches and pineapple) and flowers. Minerality balances out the richness of the bubbly and the bubbles themselves remain tingling through the golden yellow tone of the wine.