At Edmund’s Oast Exchange, certified sommelier Sarah O’Kelley guided us through some sparkling wine selections in preparation for the new year. You could head for the Moët & Chandon or the Veuve Clicquot, and you’d still enjoy a fine champagne, but if you want to impress your hostess, splurge on a grower champagne, one that comes from a single vineyard grown by the winemaker and is not a blend of grapes from the region made by one of the big Champagne houses. It will tell a different story and show you to be a progressive wine drinker.
O’Kelley’s recommendations started high, with Clos des Maladries, a limited production wine that comes from a single vineyard planted by the winemaker’s grandfather in a plot of land in Champagne. If it isn’t grown in Champagne, it can’t be called Champagne, so that’s why you’ll encounter bubbles in Cava, prosecco and Espumante. O’Kelley says this is a special bottle perfect for a spirited celebration, and at $112,it’s not for spraying down your friends when the clock strikes midnight.
Another recommended bottle was Champagne Moussé Fils Blanc de Meuniers. “Meunier is an overlooked grape,” says O’Kelley, and Champagne Mousse Fils is the king of meunier, a grape that is related genetically to pinot noir but has not been as popular as it or chardonnay. The family estate has been growing the grape for 12 generations and won’t be giving up on it anytime soon. A bottle of this unique Champagne is $63.
If you leave the Champagne region, you’ll find sparkling wines to be a lot less expensive. For $28, you can score a bottle of Francois Chidaine sparkling chenin blanc from the Loire Valley. Produced using biodynamic farming methods, this wine is more complex and interesting than a typical bottle of bubbles.
If it’s got to be rosé, O’Kelley suggests the Chartogne-Taillet. It’s a special occasion wine for $69 that comes from Champagne. It’s a crowd-pleaser according to Wine Spectator and would be a great ice breaker at the neighborhood block party.