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Consolidated "Champagne - Questions/Suggestions/Recommendations" thread

Consolidated "Champagne - Questions/Suggestions/Recommendations" thread

Old Nov 20, 04, 6:19 pm
  #1  
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Consolidated "Champagne - Questions/Suggestions/Recommendations" thread

I'm having some trouble finding some good champagne for Christmas and New Years. Does anyone have an idea? I should say that price is not a problem, $20 or $200, it's fine.

Last edited by First_Class_Flyer; Nov 20, 04 at 6:22 pm
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Old Nov 20, 04, 6:53 pm
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The first thing you have to consider is whether you like your bubbly sweet or dry. The two main classifications are Extra Dry, which is sweet, and Brut, which is dry. I know, it's funny.

I like my champers dry. My favorite mainstream brand is Taittinger. I think Dom Perignon is overpriced. Cristal is too floral for my taste; I prefer the nuttiness of Taittinger. Veuve Cliquot is also yummy.

Rose Champagnes are considered by some the finest. Cristal Rose is absolutely wonderful and one of the most expensive.

There are dozens of lesser-known labels that are good. Happy New Year!

QL
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Old Nov 20, 04, 7:07 pm
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Originally Posted by QuietLion
The first thing you have to consider is whether you like your bubbly sweet or dry. The two main classifications are Extra Dry, which is sweet, and Brut, which is dry. I know, it's funny.

I like my champers dry. My favorite mainstream brand is Taittinger. I think Dom Perignon is overpriced. Cristal is too floral for my taste; I prefer the nuttiness of Taittinger. Veuve Cliquot is also yummy.

Rose Champagnes are considered by some the finest. Cristal Rose is absolutely wonderful and one of the most expensive.

There are dozens of lesser-known labels that are good. Happy New Year!

QL

Thanks for the info. I do like Dom Perignon, but it's just not as good as Cristal. I always like to have a bottle of Cristal in fridge for special occasions. What would you choose for something to drink after dinner, well after dessert? Would it be better to go dry or sweet?
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Old Nov 20, 04, 8:43 pm
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For me Bollinger is excellent, especially as an aperitif. For rose, I prefer Perrier Jouet La Belle Epoque, Laurent Perrier, or the Billecart-Salmon.

As for "tete's de cuvee" Veuve Cliquot's La Grand Dame is outstanding, though Louis Roederer is just as nice.

After dessert I tend to prefer a nice dessert wine, like a Sauternes (Chateau d'Yquem is splendid, but others, like Chateau Climens, Suduirat, and Sigala Rabaud are fine) or a nice port.

I think it is really up to you -- the one thing I have learned is that there are really few rules -- drink what you enjoy and experiment.
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Old Nov 21, 04, 7:15 am
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Following extensive, though admittedly unscientific, research from multiple visits to the region, our hands-down favorite is Claude-Cazals from the Côte des Blancs (100% Chardonnay). Tiny, unrelenting bubbles, delicate hints of cherries and almonds. Single-varietal Champagnes (i.e. 100% Chardonnay or Pinot Noir exclusively, no blending) are historically the most expensive, but this one is reasonable.

It is however very difficult (though not impossible) to obtain outside France. Other posters' suggestions of Taittinger, La Belle Epoque, and Billecart-Salmon also follow this style, and should be more accessible to you in the States.

If you prefer Cristal (a blend), however, maybe this wouldn't be to your liking anyway.

Oh, and please don't store your Cristal in the fridge for long! The vibrations will ruin it. Best is to immerse the bottle in an ice water bath and bypass the fridge altogether.
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Old Nov 21, 04, 9:03 am
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Thankyou so much for all your advice. What a life, I'll just have to taste them all. I should have clarified "fridge", it's designed only for bottles of wine. My wife and I always plan a huge New Years party so getting a verity of the brands above will be good.
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Old Nov 21, 04, 9:15 am
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Coincidentally my brother sent me an email about Veuve Cliquot just the other day. Here's the major portion of his email which came from a small wine newsletter:

Veuve-Clicquot is just one egregious example. The objective, measurable quality of Veuve-Clicquot NV Brut literally degraded before our eyes. What was once a clever, toasty, nutty, biscuity, $30 Champagne, laden with ripe apple, pear and butter flavors, was now merely floral, impermanent, sweet, and a tight $40.

Knowledgeable sources explained that with the explosion of Veuve-Clicquot sales in North America over the last decade (72,000 cases in 1993 – 170,000 in 1997), the company is now aging its flagship product for dramatically shorter terms in the cellar – rushing it to market. This is not a move intended to promote “quality,” I assure you. And, as I see it, the Veuve-Clicquot boardroom compensated by including weaker-flavored juice in the blend; this preserves the drinkable softness that was once earned by years of patient aging.

Such is the brand life cycle of wine. The Veuve bubble will, eventually, burst. If you can still enjoy it, please, consider purchasing it from us. But eventually, you’ll switch to another brand. So what are Veuve-drinkers switching to? It depends on what attributes of the old Veuve-Clicquot style one likes the most. For intensity of character and sheer quality it is Ployez-Jacquemart NV Brut. Priced lower, it possesses a delirious perfume of chalky minerals to underlay flights of fruit and biscuit flavors. Made in miniscule quantities, you’ll never see an ad for it I’m afraid. For those who especially liked the buttery, suave richness of the old Veuve-Clicquot, the most reliable option would seem to be Duval Leroy NV Brut and Duval Leroy NV Brut Rosé. At the same price Veuve-Clicquot was ten years ago, and a notch creamier, deeper and even more laden with nougat flavor, these are getting quite popular here.

Rita
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Old Nov 21, 04, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by rkt10
the company is now aging its flagship product
I thought that VC's flagship product was La Grande Dame.

Anyway, I am novice Champagne/sparkling wine drinker. I am very pleased with Moët et Chandon White Star.
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Old Nov 21, 04, 1:33 pm
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I'm one of those who discovered Krug while flying BA FIRST, and it's now my choice for special occasions. Because it's a (nv) blend, the house is able to choose their finest "raw materials" to come up with an beautifully balanced, exquisitely smooth product.

Last edited by Non-NonRev; Nov 21, 04 at 1:40 pm
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Old Nov 21, 04, 2:01 pm
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Another vote for Billecart-Salmon as a very good mid-range ($49) option.
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Old Nov 22, 04, 6:57 am
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Any suggestions in the inexpensive/"budget" price range? I am hosting a party for approximately 500 people and looking to buy around 125 bottles at around $25 per bottle.
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Old Nov 22, 04, 10:00 am
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On the budget front ... if you have a great liquor store, you should be able to find Piper Heidsieck's NV Brut for $25 a bottle or even slightly less. That's been beautiful the past couple blends, and I think it's hard to beat in the NV realm right now, especially for the price.

Great points brought up on Veuve Clicquot by rkt10! I noticed the deterioration of the yellow label, or so I thought, especially between 1998 and 2001. As chance would have it, I had a bottle of NV I bought in 2001 and left it in the cellar for a little while. Had it in 2003, and it was absolutely superb -- up to the old standards. I think the diagnosis that they're not aging the wine enough before it comes to market is dead-on. I still enjoy Veuve, though at $35 or more a bottle at best these days there are better options, but you must hold on to it for a little while for it to peak.

And, First_Class_Flyer, if you like Cristal, then it sounds like you're into fuller body. Krug's NV would seem to be just the thing for you. Billecart-Salmon is terrific -- I adore their rose, in particular. You might also think of Salon Clos du Mesnil. The 1988 is still fabulous, and the 1990 is super. I think they've got the 1995 out now, too. The 1996 vintage champagnes are beautiful, as well. You can get a load of bang for your buck by going with the standard vintage champagnes instead of the luxury cuvees. Charles Heidsieck, for example, is making some wonderful wine at the moment. Their 1996 ought to fit the bill.

Obviously, my simple answer to the question, "Selecting the correct Champagne?" How can you go wrong?!
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Old Nov 22, 04, 12:20 pm
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Originally Posted by QuietLion
The first thing you have to consider is whether you like your bubbly sweet or dry. The two main classifications are Extra Dry, which is sweet, and Brut, which is dry. I know, it's funny.

I like my champers dry. My favorite mainstream brand is Taittinger....
Brut it is... ^

I recommend the following California bruts

Domain Chandon* - only $16
and
Domain Carneros** - better, but more expensive

*Domain Chandon is the American arm of the Moet Chandon Champagne company

**Domain Carneros is the American arm of the Tattinger Champagne company

I have visited (and tasted ) at least 15 champagne caves. And yes, some French ones are really great .. but expensive! The Domain Carneros is really a fine Champagne (=sparkling wine); the wine maker and director is a lady.

Beside the test look for small bubbles going up in the middle of the glas.
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Old Nov 22, 04, 1:38 pm
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Originally Posted by gutt22
of Salon Clos du Mesnil. The 1988 is still fabulous, and the 1990 is super. I think they've got the 1995 out now, too. The 1996 vintage champagnes are beautiful, as well.

I was under the impression that Krug's "tete de cuvee" is the Clos de Mesnil and that Salon only produce a "blanc de blancs"?

Bollinger NV is under-rated IMHO; I also like Champagne Deutz.....
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Old Nov 23, 04, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by luxury
I was under the impression that Krug's "tete de cuvee" is the Clos de Mesnil and that Salon only produce a "blanc de blancs"?

Bollinger NV is under-rated IMHO; I also like Champagne Deutz.....
Deutz has been fabulous lately! The Bollinger NV is superb right now, too. Great blend they're working.

Krug also produces a Clos du Mesnil. Salon is blanc de blancs -- the only grapes grown in Clos du Mesnil, I believe, are Chardonnay. So both the Krug Clos du Mesnil and the Salon are blanc de blancs.

On the American front, I find the Domaine Chandon blanc de noirs better than the regular Brut. Even better, etoile, if you can get it where you are. Domaine Carneros has a super 2000. Schramsberg, to my taste, is overrated, particularly for the price. Roederer Estate might just be the best American sparkling at the moment. Their regular NV, rose, and L'Ermitage tete de cuvee are excellent. Mumm Cuvee Napa has slipped just a hair recently, though the blanc de blancs remains really nice.
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