Through all the scary uncertainty that may come with the new year, one thing’s almost definite… You’ll be starting 2018 off with a bottle of bubbly. Sure, there’s nothing like a buttery brut to help celebrate, but who are we kidding? Champagne shopping could leave you penniless and perplexed. Have no fear — we’ve enlisted the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess, Debbie Gioquindo, to help pick out the perfect pop-able pour.
The first step, she says, is determining how much you want to spend. A bottle of champagne could cost you anywhere from $20, all the way up to $3,000 (check out this outrageous 1999 Louis Roederer Brut Cristal, retailing for $2,499!). So do you really need to spend big to get big flavor? “I wouldn’t say that an expensive bottle of champagne is always better, but you really can taste the finesse,” Gioquindo said. “A $200 bottle will probably taste better than a $40 bottle, but you can find decent champagne at an affordable price.”
So whether your pockets are deep or dusty, there’s a champagne out there for you. Here are some of Gioquindo’s favorites, by budget.
Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut, $24.99
Ripe fruit aromas, with a medium-bodied full flavor. Nutty, biscuit-like taste and a freshness on the tongue.
Taittinger Brut La Francaise, $36.99
Berry and white fruit aromas, with delicate flavors of poached apple, blackberry, beeswax, and lemon confit. Finish is slightly smoky.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to save money, try Grower Champagne, marked by ‘RM’ on the label. “Once only selling their product to the big champagne houses, some individual estate growers have started producing champagne independently,” said Gioquindo. “They use at least 95 percent of their own grapes, so it’s just as good, but usually a little less expensive.”
Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee, $49.99
Flavors of blackberry tart and lemon parfait, with hints of pastry crust, toasted almond, and pears.
Pro Tip: You may find higher end bottles, like the Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rosé (above), on sale at this time of year, making them a little more within reach.
Dom Perignon 2006 Cuvee, $159.99
Well balanced with a floral, fruity taste and dark notes of candied fruit and toasted nuts.
Louis Roederer 2007 Vintage Brut Cristal, $209.99
Aromas of ginger, mango, and tea, with bready notes, and an intense, lively flavor.
Pro Tip: “Don’t wait for a special occasion to appreciate champagne,” said Gioquindo. “Pop a nice bottle with friends and family, and enjoy.”