Long before we ever opened the Urban Grape, TJ gave me two bottles of Billecart-Salmon Rosé Magnums for Christmas. It was such a thrilling gift, and we stored them away for special occasions. When we finally did open them, it was to share them with really good friends, and I loved telling everyone how TJ had given them to me on Christmas. It was building a memory on top of a memory – a great thing to do with wine!
Champagne is a wonderful gift to give at the holidays. Here are our picks for the best Champagne-style and true Champagne wines that we carry at UG, at every price point:
Gruet Blanc de Blancs ($20) and Rosé ($21) – Gruet is an amazing success story. Founded by a French Champagne producer, Gilbert Gruet, in New Mexico in 1985 and now run buy his children Laurent and Nathalie, this vineyard makes incredible Champagne-style sparkling wine at a fraction of what true Champagne costs. Gruet used to be the best kept secret in the wine industry, but we’re happy to be showcasing their wines this whole holiday season!
Roderer Estate Brut ($23) and Rosé ($37) – Another transplant from Champagne to the United States, Roderer Estate is the US-based operation of the famed Roderer brand. These wines have are also made in the true Champagne-style, and have all of the quality of their French cousins. We like to say Roderer is Champagne with an American accent. Both the Brut and Rosé are fantastic, and both are very reasonably priced options in comparison to real Champagne.
Canard Duchene Brut ($40) and Rosé ($50) – Canard Duchene represents the lowest price-point Champagne we have found that still has all the quality of the more expensive Champagne houses. We like to call this our “house” Champagne. It’s certainly more expensive than a Prosecco or Cava, but if you want excellent Champagne, and don’t want to serve the ubiquitous Yellow Label, this is the best choice you can make. Trade name-recognition for quality!!
Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs ($76) – This is a wonderful grower Champagne, at a reasonable price point for this kind of wine. Grower Champagne means that the producer grows all his or her own grapes to use in their house’s Champagne. Non-grower Champagnes can source their grapes from other growers throughout the region. Blanc de Blancs refers to a wine that is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, which makes the wine more bracing and focused. This is a blend of 20 years of harvests from the Pierre Peters vineyards. A truly wonderful Champagne, and Yoko’s pick to pair with oysters!
Bollinger Special Cuvée ($80) – Here’s a hint: guys love Bollinger because James Bond drinks it. The Special Cuvée is special because it is a blend of harvest grapes and reserve wines, meaning that it has both depth of age and a freshness of flavor combined in each sip. This is a great food wine, perfect for pouring if you’re serving any kind of shellfish or crustacean. Just make sure your man wears his tux.
2005 Gaston Chiquet Special Club ($95) – Special Club Champagnes can be challenging to explain. In short, the Special Club is a group of 26 grower Champagne producers who are believe that, in certain vintages, they can make a wine that is the best expression of their unique terroir. A winemaker from this group submits his wine for judgement by his peers in the group. Only if the peer group agrees that it is the best of the best can the wine be sent to market. So, not only is this Champagne judged to be an exceptional expression of wines from this region, we also think it’s pretty darn yummy. Terry Theise calls wines form this house “innately lovable.”
2005 Pierre Gimonnet Vintage Collection Magnum ($260) – Serving Champagne out of a magnum is just plain awesome. This 100% Chardonnay wine is so delicious, you will be sad to see the magnum run dry. It’s got everything you want – floral notes, minerality, nice bright fruit. It’s also a bottle you can age for some time. This would be a wonderful gift for the Champagne lover on your list. And the price is so reasonable, given that this is in magnum form!
Billecart-Salmon Rosé Magnum ($225) – Here it is! The bottle that TJ gave me all those years ago. We have one left in the South End, and it can be yours if you act quickly. Otherwise, it might end up under my tree this Christmas!