Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Great Champagnes, Under $50

It's the time of year for lists of Champagne's greatest hits. Today alone, Eric Asimov of the NY Times published an article reviewing his tasting panel's thoughts on sparkling wines not from Champagne, and also a blog post listing some of his favorite Champagnes.

Well, I want to add my .02 cents. Here are some of my favorite Champagnes that cost $50 or less before sales tax:

Blanc de Blancs.

Pierre Gimonnet Selection Belles Annees Brut Premier Cru, $34, Terry Theise Selections/Michael Skurnik Imports. Bright fruit, a graceful style.
Jacques Lassaigne Les Vignes de Montgueux Brut Blanc de Blancs, $47, Jenny & François Selections. Richer and more robust, from the Aube.

Pinot Noir-heavy wines.

René Geoffroy Empreinte Brut Premier Cru, $48, Terry Theise Selections/Michael Skurnik Imports. This is always based on a single vintage, and is usually about 90% Pinot Noir. Fragrant and vivid, well balanced.

Benoît Lahaye Brut Essentiel Grand Cru, $40, Jeffrey Alpert Selections. About 90% Pinot from the village of Bouzy. Simply excellent.

Pinot Meunier-heavy wines.

Françoise Bedel Cuvée Origin’elle Brut, $45, JD Headrick Selections. About 80% Meunier, slow to unwind, quite rich, made in a slightly oxidative style, lots of soil.

Blended Wine.

Chartogne-Taillet Brut Cuvée St Anne, $38, Terry Theise Selections/Michael Skurnik Imports. For me, a classic Champagne.

Rosé Wines (Tough, because there are few choices at $50 and under).

Margaine Brut Rosé Premier Cru, $50, Terry Theise Selections/Michael Skurnik Imports.

Brut Nature/Non-Dosé Wines.

Raymond Boulard Mailly-Champagne Grand Cru Brut Nature, $43, Imported by Selected Estates of Europe. Complex wine that is more about soil than about fruit, but still feels ripe and delicious.

Tarlant Brut Zero, $45, JD Headrick used to handle Tarlant, and I'm not sure who does now. Spicy and vibrant.

So...what do you think? Suggestions welcome. There is still time for us all to blow some dough on Champagne before the big eves and days arrive.


Timothy Lock said...

I'd add the Marc Hebrart Rose to your Rose section (Skurnik/Theise) - in the $45 range. I really can't understand why that wine is as cheap as it is. Was first introduced to it in a wine paring at Blue Hill as Stone Barns and have purchased a couple of bottles based on that experience and really enjoyed both.

Tim Buzinski said...

Some favorites listed here. Tarlant is available through Boutique Wine Collection.

Nicola said...

This one doesn't fully qualify because it retails for closer to $55 (but it's worth the extra $5)...Diebolt-Vallois a Cramant Rose. It's a delicious blend of fruit and minerality.

John McCarthy said...

Pinot Meunier-heavy I like José Michel. Killer Champagne and retails for under $40. He also does a 100% Pinot Meunier NV that is a cool rustic-style Champagne. I'd also add the NV Voirin-Jumel Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut Grand Cru from Cramant.

Do Bianchi said...

Your blog is always my number-one-go-to for great Champagne recommendations. Great post, as always...

Merry Christmas BrooklynGuy!

Weston said...

yeah Champagne! havnt drank a lot recently due to Canadian prices not being under 50$.

I do miss your weekly Champagne Article~

Henri Vasnier said...

Haven't tasted it yet but the Aubry nv rose is well reviewed (by Peter Liem among others). And the nv Ariston Aspasie rose, available from K&L in the San Francisco area for $33, is excellent year after year.

Recently read somewhere (probably Liem) that the blend for the Margaine rose is their special club plus red wine. No wonder it's so good!

Blanc de blancs: the nv Andre Jacquart "Experience," another K&L import, is far, far better than the usual nv brut, blanc or otherwise. (Producer of this wine is Andre Jacquart of Vertus, not Champagne Jacquart of Reims which is unrelated.)

Yule said...

Love, love, love Lassaigne. Its richness and intensity is so delicious and so fun to drink. Definitely not a dainty drink, but it really a joy to experience the taut lemon and saline notes braided together with a distinct racy minerality.

I brought the NV Blanc de Blancs to dinner with my sister's future in-laws, and it was really great to see people enjoying the bottle (and I daresay bogarting it at times). My sister's future father-in-law even told me it was the first and only champagne he has ever liked. My father, whose favorite beer is Rolling Rock, always smiles when he drinks Lassaigne...which makes it worth every penny in my book.

Veronica said...

Excellent selections! Had the Lassaigne Cotet which was great. Billiot NV is always delicious at $45. Just discovered Loriot at $37 which is all Pinot Meunier. I think Terry Theise dropped Andre Clouet from his book recently, so it is tough to find his wines on the West Coast right now... but love Clouet!