Wine Talk

Snooth User: Richard Foxall

Recommend a bubbly.

Posted by Richard Foxall, May 19, 2011.

Okay, this is not the France v. US bubbly showdown I have mentioned elsewhere.  If that happens, it will be more likely in late July.  But we have a celebration coming up on Memorial Day weekend--7 adults, one old friend in from out of town, noisy children at their own table.  We'll mostly be drawing down some California Cabs (with maybe one French ringer from Pessac-Leognan/Graves thrown in to test people), but I want to start with an appropriate sparkler for the appetizers/grazing/people arriving period.  (Food to follow is probably standing rib roast, and a fish course, but this stands alone.)

Here are the restrictions: 

 I have to be able to find it at a local wineshop.  I live in a place with lots of those, so that's not too bad, but rare "maker" champagnes could be a challenge.  (I might cross the Bay to K&L, but don't count on it. On the other hand, I am not dependent on BevMo or the grocery store.)

It can't cost more than $42 a bottle.  Why $42?  Because someone will recommend something that costs $41.99 if I say $40. The overall wine expense for this shindig is already substantial. I also know I won't be drinking a ton of it, or I would be busting out the '99 P-J Fleur... but I am not spreading that around so thinly with this many people. Just not fair to them or me. ;-)

My likes, besides P-J Fleur, and in the reasonable range, are Mumm Cordon Rouge, but we can do something more interesting.  I don't like Moet product, Cal or French, at the low end.  Feuillatte was a disappointment at $40-ish.  Billecart-Salmon and Tattinger are really nice, but too expensive.  In California, at the lower end, I've been okay with Roederer Estate, but again, we can spend more and do something more interesting. My tastes are kind of all over the map, but toasty, yeasty, creamy are all good.  Dull, sweet, too overtly lemony are drawbacks. 

Some things I would be interested in are Schramsberg, something a little more off the beaten path from France, maybe a better Cava.  SH, I would even consider something from down under.  Has anyone tried the J Cuvee 20?

I am sure I have missed a ton of other good ideas, but you smart Snoothers will have lots of them.  What should I get? 


Reply by dmcker, May 19, 2011.

You might try some Phillipponnat options, and I'd be surprised if you can't find them locally. If you want something really dry you can try the non-dose, and theirs is more complex than many of that style. More flowery than citrusy.

Perhaps more difficult to find, but look for the Soter Brut Rose from Oregon. Tasty. Worth ordering from them if not available locally.

Plenty more ideas, but these are two starting points. Another idea would be a Schramsberg horizontal.

Maybe you should start surveying and qualifying, tasting your way now to the right choice for then... ;-)

Reply by Richard Foxall, May 19, 2011.

Let's see... two days until the end of the world and a week before the event.  Either way, I better start cracking bottles.

I'll look around here for the Philipponat--interesting press on it. has some of the Rose, but out of the price range. Not available at JJ Buckley or K&L.  Paul Marcus or Vintage Berkeley are other possibles.  I don't think WineMine has it.

Other suggestions?

Reply by dmcker, May 19, 2011.

I'd schedule a visit to Kermit Lynch, and maybe to North Berkeley Wine. I've had all the grower champagnes KL's carrying now (Lassalle, Paul Bara, Veuve Fourny & Fils), and all good, though I can't see their current prices. Get some of their Bandols while you're there. ;-)

North Berkeley has several worth a try, though they seem just above your price range (except the 375s, of course).

Reply by cheryldaniels, May 19, 2011.

I'm a huge fan of Schramsberg.  In your quoted price range, I feel their Blanc de Noir is really special and actually prefer it to their "bread and butter" Blanc de Blanc.

Reply by Stephen Harvey, May 19, 2011.


  1. Croser
  2. Janz
  3. Arras
  4. Bay of Fires
  5. Salinger

All should have NV well within your range [although ex rate maybe not helping] if their vintage offerings fit definitely worth a try


Reply by dcarterclout, May 20, 2011.

How about this for outside the box thinking? Morton Estate Premium Brut - New Zealand méthode traditionelle sparkler, made from the 3 champagne grapes, lively and fresh tasting but could easily be a lighter style champagne if you tasted it blind. No idea if you can buy it stateside - in the UK it retails at around £12 (c. $20).

Of the more sensibly priced champagnes, I always find Piper Heidseck is great party drinking, not too acidic or full bodied or dry, just nicely balanced and lightly toasty. It retails at the equivalent of about $35-40 in the UK.

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