- Reply by JonDerry, Feb 21.
How about Salon or Krug if the the budget allows?
For under $100 I recommend Agrapart Mineral.
- Reply by outthere, Feb 21.
I am far from being any type of authority on Champagne as I rarely have one that appeals to me. I recently tasted one that knocked my socks off. Worked for my palate.
2004 Michel Turgy Millésime Brut Blanc de Blancs
- Reply by duncan 906, Feb 22.
I went to Epernay once [nearly 20 years ago ] and got a tour of the House of Mercier which was quite an experience. However thy hotel we stayed at was in the nearby village of Ambonnay and there was a smaller Champagne House next door and the owner gave us a private tour which was also fascinating
- Reply by Darksunwine, Feb 22.
Well.. I've already tasted the more common champagne.. like Krug, Moët, Billecart-Salmon and Salon ect.
And from the small houses i would like to find some real 'diamond-class' champagne. Purhaps find some known unknown bottels (:
- Reply by vin0vin0, Feb 22.
DSW, I haven't explored a lot of different Champange but have a friend in the business who has and she loves Domaine Ruinart, which probably isn't a small house like you're wanting to find. Somewhat recently I've enjoyed a really nice bottle of '04 Duval-Leroy.
But if you're having a difficult time finding the hidden gems, go BIG! This was a huge ; ) hit on New Years.
- Reply by edwilley3, Feb 24.
I've tasted an entry level Turgy product and really liked it for the money. The best vintage bubbly recently was a 2002 Piper Heidsieck "Rare" blanc de blancs. It was the most laser-like Champagne I've had in a long time as far as balance and intensity of fruit are concerned. As it warmed in the glass a generous array of stone fruits emerged with really beautiful flowers. Really first rate, not soft and soda-ish like Dom Perignon, with amazing youthfulness.
I think that there are advantages to Dom Ruinart over Dom Perignon, especially in the rose, but longtime DP will prefer the distinct style of DP. The DR vintage rose is a totally first class wine, however, and entirely worth your time. I find Bollinger lacking the extra something special. The ostensibly very elite Winston Churchill cuvee of Pol Roger is certainly very good, but it's well into the yeasty range and the fruit flavors are more muted. I would much rather drink Charles Heidsieck than the Pol Roger or Bollinger. I love what the new winemaker has done. Even the NV brut rose from the latest degorgement is beautiful. In fact, the Charles Heidsiecks are my favorite "affordable" (ok, it's relative, I know) Champagnes of the moment. I do still enjoy the Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque, but as lovely as it is, this is ultra light stuff perfect as a supremely elegant aperitif. It's not going to wow people who drink top shelf Cote de Beaune whites or Aubert Chardonnays.
Salon probably offers the most classic pure French Chardonnay character, at least from what I've tasted, but Krug preserves that character while offering my balance overall. This comes in part from the multi-vintage aspect of Krug. I've heard that the Veuve Clicquot Cave Privee is very special, but I've been so disappointed with VC for so long that I can't stomach the thought of over 200 clams for a VC. It may be terrific, however, and I could just be missing something great. A couple of years ago I had a cellar aged 1990 Pommery Cuvee Louise. Wow! Amazing stone fruits, brioche, golden raises, etc. The 1999 version is around in a few stores. I'm thinking about one of those. Yes, a Pommery.
I think that you would be remiss in not working your way through the following producers' ranges:
- Gaston Chiquet
- Vilmart (often considered among the pantheon of farmer fizz)
- Gimonnet (also often considered among the pantheon of farmer fizz)
- Goutorbe (love the rose with its lovely blood orange note)
For the best non-Champagne but still French sparklers, the Lucien Albrecht variants of Cremant d'Alsace are an easy recommendation.