41 champagnes to sparkle the holidays

Owners-growers or trading houses often sign their know-how and the house style in "brut without year" cuvées or singular expressions of these.

41 champagnes to sparkle the holidays

Owners-growers or trading houses often sign their know-how and the house style in "brut without year" cuvées or singular expressions of these.

SDP

1/ Bonville Odyssey House 319

Olivier Bonville, owner-grower of the Côte des Blancs, embarks on a journey through the 319 crus of Champagne, carried by a small trading activity. The adventure begins on site, in the terroirs of the Avize grand cru, with this blanc de blancs full of maturity, volume, delicacy (plum, mirabelle plum) and tension. €29.50.

2/ Lombard Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut

Under the impetus of Thomas Lombard, who joined the family business in 2017, the small Epernay house continues its transformation towards excellence and the expression of the terroirs. This blend of Pinot Noir stemming essentially from Premier Crus of the Montagne de Reims was partly aged in oak barrels. Hence its perfect balance between tension, freshness and indulgence. 30 €

3/ AR Lenoble Intense Mag 17

This series, inaugurated with the 2014 harvest, is extended with this fourth opus, completed by a new variation, Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Mag 17 (€37.80). The 2017 juices are blended with four-year-old wines, aged partly in magnums under corks. This less oxygenated reserve develops a rich and delicate aromatic palette. €31.70

4/ Gaidoz-Forget Vintage 2014

This family of independent winegrowers has been based in Ludes, in the Montagne de Reims, for four generations. From the nine hectares of the estate, Luc Gaidoz and his daughter Bertille, who joined him in 2020, produce cuvées straight from their terroir. Like this blanc de noirs with tasty notes of candied citrus fruits (orange, mandarin). 35 €

5/ Castelnau Origin ES 9.0 Solera

Let's decipher this code: ES for Elisabeth Sarcelet, the cellar master at the initiative of the project. 9 for 2009, the vintage of this cuvée 0, the starting point for a future solera. This "perpetual reserve" consists of only partially racking the barrels of one year to complete them with younger wine. Toasted, undergrowth, nougat, honey and dried apricot notes. 39 €

6/ Le Brun de Neuville Autolyse

The union of producers from the hillsides of Sézannais has completely redesigned the presentation and identity of the range in order to better highlight the terroir and the know-how of the house. This blanc de blancs testifies to the imprint of time in the development of champagne: during ageing, the yeasts die and self-lyse by releasing micro-organisms which "feed" the wine. 39 €

SDP, Atelier-Demoulin (8)

7/ Saint-Gall So Dark 2015 

Behind this brand work fifteen cooperatives from the Côte des Blancs, the Montagne de Reims and the Marne valley. This cuvée exalts Reims Pinot Noir. Grape of character with dark skin, it constitutes the yin of this vintage grand cru, vinous and structured, while a fraction of chardonnay, plays the yang, all in minerality and freshness. 40 €

8/ Devaux Organic Heart of Nature

The culmination of a demanding environmental approach for many years, the Côte des Bar house (Aube) is launching its first cuvée from organic viticulture. A completely sustainable approach since the label is printed on recycled paper and the cardboard, kraft. This brut, mainly composed of Pinot Noir, is crunchy and delicious. 43 €

9/ Pol Roger Cuvée Pure 

Official supplier to the British crown and maker of Winston Churchill's favorite bubbles - to whom a legendary cuvée is dedicated (€210, the 2012) - the renowned Epernay house delivers here a brut without a remarkable year or dosage. A gentlemen's champagne whose floral aromas evolve towards nuances of breadcrumbs and lemon. Exquisite freshness. 45 €

10/ Gremillet Vintage 2015

The vineyard of this family house on the Côte des Bar, in Aube, covers 40 hectares planted on clay-limestone and Kimmeridgian soils, which are reminiscent of those of neighboring Burgundy. But here, only Pinot Noir reigns (91% of the estate's grape varieties). As in this blanc de noirs from the terroir with a golden color and a delicious mouthfeel. €47.50.

11/ Louis Roederer Collection 242

This new cuvée, marked by the establishment of a "perpetual reserve", prolongs the history of the Brut Premier. Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, the cellar master, has meticulously measured this 242nd blend of the house by no longer looking for the permanence of a taste, the traditional credo of bruts without a year, but the expression of the terroirs. Toasted and ripe fruit aromas, saline notes. 48 €

12/ Moët

A superb aperitif champagne, energetic and chiselled. The 75th vintage cuvée since the creation of the house in 1743 offers autumnal notes of roasted chestnuts, toasted buckwheat, walnuts, honey and nougat. The bouquet then opens with aromas of white fruits, dried flowers, pine sap and iodized nuances. Nice bitters on the finish. 49 €

The choice of vintage - or not - and the selection of grape varieties (blanc de blancs or blanc de noirs) also form the DNA of the houses. Like the share of reserve wines in the blend, which offer a tasty journey through time.

SDP

1/ Château de Bligny Blanc de Blancs 2009

Rare Champagne house benefiting from the "château" appellation, Bligny has chosen this solar vintage to shine on the festive tables, with its new, more contemporary label, illuminated by touches of gold. This pure Chardonnay asserts itself precise and generous: candied citrus, juicy fruit, warm shortbread, spices and hazelnut... Like a scent of Christmas. 53 €

2/ Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 2014

A contemporary mosaic of chalk, vines and talents, this cooperative founded in 1964 makes Chardonnays from four beautiful Grand Cru terroirs sparkle. This 2014 vintage revives the classicism of Champagne, country flowers, menthol and lemony notes, tension and minerality of a cold sun. €54.

3/ Ayala The White of Whites 2015

For the house of Aÿ, blending is an art, purity a signature. And chardonnay is its identity, magnified in this pure vintage chardonnay with a brilliant white gold robe. Lively and complex, both delicate and generous, the nose on orange blossom, a zest of yuzu and a hint of ginger, the mouth unctuous and the finish in a chalky minerality. €55.

4/ Veuve Clicquot Extra Old Extra Brut  

Happy Didier Mariotti, cellar master of the venerable Reims institution, who can "play" like a palette with one of the finest collections of Champagne reserve wines, preserved by terroir and grape variety. This unique cuvée blends no less than eight vintages, from 2014 to 1990. Notes of acacia, toast and citrus fruits (yellow and green lemon, candied orange). 56 €

5/ Philipponnat Blanc de Noirs 2015

Charles Philipponnat propelled this small house in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ into the big leagues. This wine with generous and persistent foam delivers a beautiful expression of the Pinot Noir from the terroirs of Ay. The nose is greedy and fruity with pastry notes, fresh pear and almond, then opens with a spicy touch (cinnamon, clove). €57.20

6/ Besserat de Bellefon Vintage 2008

The box with perforated shelves is reminiscent of the essential aging on laths of champagne. A made in France and eco-responsible setting for an opulent sparkling wine - a large majority of Grands Crus Chardonnays (69%) are used in the blend. The foam is airy, the house's signature. Spicy notes enhance the flavors of cooked fruits. 65 €

SDP

7/ Bruno Paillard Blend 2012

Made from the purest presses, this blend of Pinot Noir (60%) and Chardonnay is partially vinified in small old oak barrels. Inaugurated forty years ago, the tradition of entrusting each release of a new vintage to an artist continues with Claude Viallat: the visual artist co-founder of the Supports-Surfaces group illustrated the label of this cuvée with an interior and profound character. 68 €

8/ Fleury 2010 Extra Brut  

Pioneer of biodynamics in Champagne, for thirty years, the house of Courteron (Aube) has released three exceptional vintages: Symphonie d'Europe 1993 (€104), Brut 1997 (€93) and this 2010 with aromas of citrus, fruit yolks and pineapple. On the palate, pastry and vanilla notes are underlined by the tension and precision of this superb wine. 79 €

9/ Thiénot Cuvée Stanislas 2008

The young house - launched in 1985 by Alain Thiénot - has found its place in the Champagne decor. Its family dimension is illustrated through the vintage cuvées bearing the names of the founder and his two children, Garance and Stanislas, who now watch over the company. This is a blanc de blancs with delicious aromas of hazelnut and pistachio evolving into buttery but very fresh notes. 80 €

10/ William Deutz The Glacier Coast 2015

This vintage was created by Fabrice Roset, in 2010, in memory of the founder of the house. A tribute, too, to its original Agéen terroir, through two plots at its heart. First assembled, they are now vinified separately. Hence this splendid plot of Pinot Noir with floral (lime blossom), acacia honey, white fruits (quince, pear, peach) and slightly pastry fragrances. 85 €

11/ G.H. Mumm RSRV R. Lalou 2006 

This legendary cuvée pays homage to René Lalou, the emblematic boss of the house, from 1920 to 1973. Made only in great years, it joins the confidential RSRV collection. The fruit of a blend of grapes from the domain's twelve best grand cru plots - pinot noir and chardonnay equally - this wine releases beautiful mineral and pastry notes that are refreshed by candied lemon. 93 € (Available on rsrv.fr)

12/ Pannier Muse 2012

Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs for finesse and freshness, Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims for structure and delicacy and a zest of miller from the Marne valley for its delicate fruitiness, these are the ingredients of the success of this cuvée with the precision of a goldsmith. A gastronomic wine with accents of citrus fruits, acacia flowers and white and yellow fruits. 96 €

The prestige cuvées are born from the infinite precision of the work in the vineyard and the talent of the cellar masters. The constant attention they lavish, over the years, on the aging of the wines on the lees shape their character and finesse. Beautiful work which of course has a cost.

SDP, Wizard (4)

1/ Palmer

The new edition of the prestige cuvée from this small cooperative of excellence combines the freshness and concentration of Chardonnays from Trépail and Villers-Marmery with the power and nobility of Pinots Noirs from Mailly and Verzenay. Premiers and grands crus from the Montagne de Reims, where the winery draws most of its supplies. The notes of dried fruits and undergrowth glide in the mouth towards grilled hazelnut and brioche. 110 €

2/ Bollinger B13 

A year of frost and snow, 2013 was not easy in Champagne, but the mythical house of Ay bet on a vintage for this late harvest, confident in the quality of its grapes a year after the HVE certification of his vineyard. This blanc de noirs (like the packaging) under the sign of freshness brilliantly illustrates Bollinger's mastery in the vineyard and in the cellar. A wine, crystalline and chiselled, with fruity and gourmet notes. 115 €

3/ Nicolas Feuillatte Golden Palms 2008

An iconic bottle with its thousand and one honeycomb facets, Palmes d'Or promises a privileged moment. 2008 is no exception, straight and crescendo, white fruits, dried almond, citrus and apricot. Its chalky and slightly smoky signature will accompany truffles, parmesan, foie gras and caviar. A holiday meal all by itself! 120 €

4/ Charles Heidsieck Rosé 2008

The famous "Charles style" is rarely combined in vintage rosé. A requirement commensurate with the excellence demonstrated by the latest delivery of this long-keeping wine. In its new "Crayères" bottle, the blend of pinot noir (63%, of which 9% vinified in red) and chardonnay offers an initial salty and mineral nose, followed by delicious notes of pink grapefruit, blood orange and currant. 126 €

5/ Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2011

In almost seven decades, only 38 vintages of this exceptional cuvée have matured, at least ten years, in the darkness of the chalk pits of the Saint-Nicaise hill. A prosperous year, since alongside this voluptuous pure Chardonnay - with notes of meringue, mandarin zest and coriander -, the house is also releasing a Rosé 2008 (€210), it on raspberry, Morello cherry and liquorice. €160.

6/ Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2009

The prestige cuvée from the oldest house in Champagne has known only 26 vintages. This pure chardonnay of great finesse offers a very fresh fruitiness - its tension and its race radiate in the glass and in the mouth. Tasty notes of lemon and chalk open the way to aromas of yellow fruits and white flowers, mornings of honey and marzipan. 170 €

SDP, IMAGESinAIR Productions (8)

7 / Edouard Brun

This vintage is one of the greatest of the end of the last century in Champagne. The cellars of the small house of Aÿ conceal an impressive collection of old bottles, reflections of the history of the cru and of this line of winegrowers-traders. This one, made up of equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, recently disgorged and low in dosage (3g), explodes in the mouth. 170 €

8/ Gosset Celebris Rosé 2008

"The search for balance took us thirteen years of work", says Odilon de Varine, cellar master of the oldest wine house in Champagne (1584). Only the fourth vintage in terms of color since the cuvée was created in 1988, this exceptional wine releases notes of slightly peppery strawberry jam on the nose. On the palate, stone fruits are refreshed by blood orange; iodized finish. 175 €

9/ Rare Vintage 2008

Piper Heidsieck's prestige cuvée, initiated in 1885 but produced, the best years in a limited series, since 1976, has become a brand in its own right. To describe the wine, Régis Camus, the cellar master, speaks of "infinity": "The liveliness and freshness prove to be unlimited... the circle of aromas, endless, like its longevity." In the beautiful bottle, minerality and exotic fruitiness accompany the formidable length in the mouth. 175 €

10/ Krug 169e Edition 

Since the foundation of the house, nugget of the Moët Hennessy group, a new "edition" has been assembled each year to deliver one of the most generous expressions of Champagne. This time, no less than 146 reserve wines, from eleven different years, magnify the 2013 harvest, which forms the basis of this remarkable blend. A must that Julie Cavil, the cellar master, has been watching over since last year. 180 €

11/ Pommery Cuvée Louise 2005

This new vintage of the prestigious cuvée of the house whose kilometers of cellars run under the Saint Nicaise hill remains faithful to its DNA of excellence. In the light of an exceptional year and the blend of three grands crus - Avize, Cramant and Ay - where Chardonnay dominates, it expresses the quintessence of the Pommery style, all in tension, finesse and freshness. 190 €

12/ Billecart Salmon Elisabeth Salmon Rosé 2008 

Created in 1988, in homage to the co-founder of the house, this cuvée is distinguished by its brilliance and purity. Subtle blend of Chardonnay (45%) and Pinot Noir (9% vinified in red), the wine with an intense salmon color and copper highlights offers a fresh nose of citrus zest and red fruits (raspberry, strawberry) . On the palate, delicious notes of redcurrant, tangerine and orange combine to guide the palate towards a saline finish, characteristic of the vintage. 190 €

Magnums allow wines to be kept longer and often express, after a long ageing, fresher flavors than classic bottles. A few nuggets to savour.

SDP

1/ Lanson Le Black Reserve

Freshness and fullness being the hallmarks of the Lanson style, the development of a brut reserve with almost half of reserve wines aged in casks was obvious to Hervé Dantan, the cellar master of the house. Pinot Noir (50%), Chardonnay (35%) and Meunier deliver sweet aromas of marzipan, honey and candied citrus fruits evolving towards fresh notes of citrus fruits and chalk. €105.50

2/ Alfred Gratien Cuvée 595

Five vintages from 2007 to 2011, nine years on slats, to delight the five senses: this is the code deciphered for this delicately crackling blend of Chardonnay (65%) and Pinot Noir (35%). Creamy mouth, but nervous, without dosage. A virtuoso cuvée from the Jaegger family, cellar masters from father to son overseeing a cellar of 1,000 barrels for more than a century. 155 €

3/ Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

For this end of the year, the house dresses its magnum of pure Chardonnay, in the famous "second skin" case launched last year. This disruptive alternative to traditional Champagne boxes, eco-designed and entirely made of paper, embodies "a new luxury, more respectful of the environment", specifies Ruinart. In the bottle: freshness, tension, floral, citrus and white fruit notes are present. 165 €

4/ Laurent Perrier Grand Siècle Iteration N°23

In a constantly renewed quest to recreate the perfect year, this prestigious cuvée is a blend of three remarkable vintages, in eleven grands crus (out of the 17 classified) with a majority of Chardonnay. A balance between depth, aromatic complexity and freshness. While waiting for the 25th iteration, expected for the beginning of the year, the famous Tours-sur-Marne house is offering the magnum version of N°23 for the holidays, which brings together the 2006, 2004 and 2002 vintages. The finesse of the bubble is matched only by the delicately grilled and candied silk of this legendary wine. 350 €

5/ Dom Pérignon Vintage 2010

The mythical institution of Hautvillers presents its latest vintage in magnum. A creamy, greedy wine with impeccable integrity. The nose, expressive and chiseled, combines chalk, lemon, pineapple and green mango; on the palate, the fine bead of bubbles conveys the energy and richness of this wine where the brand's typical toastiness is already evident. Beautiful saline finish. 420 €

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