Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Champagne Style Guide

So with New Years Eve rounding the bend I thought it might be fun to put together a style chart of sorts, you know so one can match their personal style with a bottle of Champagne to ring in the New Year. I know there are folks out there that think bubbles are bubbles but not only is that wrong it may just be the reason more people don’t drink Champagne.

I was working with Megan on Sunday at The Wine Country and she was telling me a story about a going away party she attended. Someone had brought a bottle of Cook’s Sparkling Wine to this shindig as a sendoff, she admitted that she had never tried it before but assumed it would be pretty bland, maybe large-ish on the bubbles but overall non-offensive….she told me after one sip she had grossly misjudged; it was far worse than she had prepared herself for. Where she thought the wine would taste like nothing she soon found out it tasted like too much something and it was all bad.

Her little story sent me on a long diatribe about my theory on why people don’t drink Champagne, the reasons I have heard range from, “gives me a headache” to “It’s too sweet” and to all of that I have say, “You are drinking the wrong stuff”. If all I had tasted was the stuff you get at weddings and the free crap they give you at brunch, (and no orange juice does NOT help…) then I would not like, nor would I drink Champagne either! It doesn’t stop at the cheap stuff, no sir….have you tried Moet & Chandon White Star….shudder, just thinking about it makes the back of my mouth water in that, “Think I’m gonna barf “ kind of way…seriously I would rather not drink than drink that stuff. Veuve Clicquot isn’t really any better, sure it was once a very solid wine, (talking yellow label here) but it seems that the more they spent on marketing the less it mattered what was in the bottle….the widow Clicquot would be spinning in her grave. Yellow label isn’t bad per se but it sure aint good and there are far better wines to spend my $40-$50 on fo sho!

The thing that both the plonk bubbles and the insipid Champagnes have in common is their inability to inspire and that just bums me out more than I can tell you. I watch people that haven’t had really great Champagne look at me all glassy eyed or worse like I am a lunatic when I talk about how Champagne makes you feel, think and in some ways can turn a really crappy day into a spectacular one….they don’t get it and I so want to grab them by the shoulders, shake them, then send them home with a bottle of Agrapart Mineral……sigh.

I did not intend for this to be a, “What is wrong with you people” post so let me get back to our fun little guide. I came up with a few categories for example; Sporty/Athletic, now that doesn’t mean that if you are either of those, or you dress that way these are the wines you might like, I’m referring more to the style of the wine…..so “Sporty/Athletic” would be wines that are racy, crisp, snappy or lean. Now if I did an “out-of-shape/lazy” category that would be where you find the wines I was commenting on in my earlier paragraph…. See where I’m going? Hope you find a thing or two to help you ring in the New Year….and maybe flip your “Champagne Switch” too.


NV Agrapart 7 Cru Blanc de Blancs, ($33.99) full of racy green apple with just a touch of yeastiness, bright on the palate with a clean refreshing finish.

NV Jean Milan Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Carte Blanche, ($48.99) quite stony with lots of citrus zest, light and crisp on the palate with a long but vibrant finish…think oysters.

NV Agrapart 1er Cru Rose, ($49.99) Very elegant and balanced with all that briskness you love about the Blanc de Blancs but with a smattering of pretty red fruit with a tart tasty finish.


NV Godme 1er Cru Integral, ($65.99) produced sans dosage this is one very serious wine, matter of fact a few of my bubble lovers found it too much so, as for me….I love it! Extremely complex layers of toasted nuts, sherry like flavors and brown butter followed by a deep rich layer of unbaked dough and minerals…very long and the wine keeps changing in the glass.

NV Godme Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs, ($55.99) a very cool play of fruit and savory bready like flavors here, deep and brooding baked red apple skin, brioche and caramel with a long rich finish.

1998 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Nicolas Francois, ($109.99) quite elegant with layers of fruit that seem to wrap themselves around your tongue, a mid palate of red flowers and a finish of toffee and cream with a hit of lime.

1998 Billecart-Salmon Cuvee Elizabeth, ($139.99) dried flowers, herbs and deep almost strawberry like notes all wrapped in scalded cream…grrrr the finish is bright but elusive and keeps you trying to place that flavor on the linger.


2002 Agrapart Grand Cru Cuvee Venus, ($119.99) this wine straddles the line between glamour and serious but it is so frickin pretty I had to put it here. Nutty, butter and cream rich with a nervy backbone of minerals and tight crispy acidity….so long and luxurious.

NV RH Coutier Grand Cru Brut, ($39.99) put together remarkably, opulent and full in the mouth with plenty of flashy red fruit but with just the right amount of sophistication or reserve to keep it from being over the top. Coats your mouth with lovely flavors that seem to cling on…thankfully.

2000 Camille Saves Grand Cru Brut, ($75.99) The Wine Country’s Champagne of the year and it was in very close running for the Wine of the Year, powerful, full, long, almost sappy but with a jolting snap of tang that makes it damn beguiling.

NV Jean Milan Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Cuvee Special, ($49.99) Blanc de Blancs but with a beefier frame, citrus, white stones, toast and a touch of creamy vanilla.

2002 Marcel Moineaux Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, ($69.99) so floral and loaded with an almost holiday spice like aroma with very tangy fruit upfront and more sexy white flowers on the very persistent finish.


2000 Roland Champion Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs, ($76.99) graham cracker and baked fruit salad with a toasty, warm butter like flavor, silky and plump in the mouth with a warm spicy finish.

1999 Guy de Chassey Grand Cru Brut, ($79.99) loaded with almost red cherry like flavors and a serious blast of citrus mid palate, the finish is all about savory pie crust.

NV H. Billiot Grand Cru Brut Rose, (61.99) pure sexy red fruit, strawberry cream, vanilla with a flirty weighty middle and a long sappy finish.


NV H. Billiot Cuvee Laetitia, ($99.99) roasted oranges in warm butter and green apple skin, the wine is expansive, seems to grow with each sip…powerful but curvy with a soft but aggressively fruited finish.

NV Paul Bara Grand Cru Brut Reserve, ($49.99) plump, round, soft and all out there for you to slurp up with each sip…complex…nah but juicy as hell and a pleasure to spend time with.

NV Paul Bara Grand Cru Brut Rose, ($49.99) raspberries and gentle spice with a super yummy graham cracker and butter like finish.

NV Camille Saves Grand Cru Brut Rose, ($72.99) subtlety gets bitch slapped by a giant mouthful of tart red cherries, raw meat and holiday spice…the finish is all super ripe red apples in buttery dough.....long and sassy as hell.

Whatever your style, whatever you are drinking....have fun, be safe, give lots of kisses and have a very Happy New Year!!

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