Put down the Cook’s. The end of this year, more than any in recent history, deserves Champagne. Yes, real bubbles from the style’s most famous homeland in the northeast of France. In fact, dropkicking 2020 into a remote ditch ought to involve some of the best Champagne money can buy.
Not only is Champagne fun to drink, it tends to be tied to momentous occasions. The year 2020 has been chock-full of them, primarily bad, so it’ll be all the better to see them in the rearview mirror as the proverbial ball drops and we usher in a new decade.
But there’s even more to one of the world’s most iconic wines. Champagne is swimming in folklore, from stories of century-old bottles found in sunken ships (in great condition, mind you) to leaders like Napoleon, who sabered and sipped the stuff in victory and in defeat. If there’s a wine for the big stage and the moments of greatest magnitude, it’s Champagne.
Christophe Mignon Brut Nature
Mignon has been dubbed the greatest Champagne grower you’ve never heard of by prominent wine voices. This offering shows why, an extremely expressive bubbler focused on the Pinot Meunier grape that’s so detailed you’ll want to ditch the flute for a broader glass to explore the depth.
Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé
This is such a stunning wine you’ll do as I did and hold on to the bottle once it’s finished, as a reminder to secure more. Graceful and flavorful, it shows poached pear, peach, and wild cherry flavors, all dressed up in the most welcoming of textures.
Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
This Champagne made entirely from Chardonnay is as elegant as they come. The year 2021 should be greeted with relative brightness and optimism and this wine provides that in the glass.
Lanson Black Label Brut
You may be tired of hearing about the juxtaposition of power and restraint happening simultaneously in a wine (it’s a tired descriptor) but it’s really the situation here. The Lanson Black Label is dense and decadent while bashful and without ego.
Roederer Brut Premier
Roederer has become one of the most reliable names in all of Champagne (his house is responsible for Cristal, among other coveted offerings). Better, you can get all the sophistication of $300-$400 bottle in this gem, at a fraction of the price.
Champagne Le Mesnil Millesime Grand Cru Prestige
The Le Mesnil commune of Chardonnay is somewhat underrated and home to some fantastic producers. This is one of them and this wine bursts from the glass with a joyous mix of effervescence and orchard fruit.
Salon Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil 2007
Want to drink better in 2021? Try a Champagne the way it’s meant to be, made meticulously and aged well over a decade for your enjoyment. This wine from small but storied Champagne house Salon is far from inexpensive but incredibly rewarding in the glass, a sipper for your finer days ahead.
Champagne Philipponnat Royale Reserve
Pound for pound, Philipponnat Champagne can compete with the best of them. This wine hits all ends of the palate, showing zesty, bread-y, nutty, and fruity notes quite harmoniously.
Krug Grand Cuvée
In Krug’s vast Champagne-making history, there really hasn’t been a bad bottle. The Grand Cuvée is always opulent, a lovely wine that’s so well-integrated it tastes like the work of magicians.
Bollinger La Grande Année Brut 2012
This high-scoring release from almost a decade ago is complex and great beside fellow luxury items like fresh oysters or lobster. You’ll love its jovial character and lasting finish.
Tarlant Zero Brut Nature
Some of my favorite sips of Champagne have involved those unique bakery shop flavors of dough, pastry, yeast, and pie crust. This wine has all of that and more, with a kiss of zest and brine that really gives it added personality and balance.
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