Champagnes to Drink if You Want to Be a Real Expert

More than 16,000 growers are spread across three towns, which are divided into five areas (Montagne De Reims Vallee de la Marne, Cote des Blancs, Cote de Sezanne, and the Aube in the Cote des Bar) 90 miles to the northeast of Paris. 350 Champagne houses are making stunning arrays of various formats and styles, ranging from inexpensive to outrageously expensive. After tasting around 30 bottles of champagne for my list of favorites, I’ve whittled down the best champagnes from the bunch.

The 14 bottles offer a wealth of knowledge on¬†Champagne as well. They can be a good starting point for those who would like to learn more about Champagne and its history, from its origins, labels, laws on labeling, and the terminology used to the differences between vintage and non-vintage Champagne. One critic and writer, Antonio Galloni, has declared that we’re currently in the middle of “Champagne’s Golden Age,” with quality at a record level.

I’ve made it my mission to spread the love of these sparkling delights, hoping to inspire other people to turn into Champagne experts on their own as they go along. I believe that every dinner party is complete without a bottle of champagne. Ensure you have an ice bucket ready, your champagne bottles are chilled, and you have a glass in your fridge. Approximate reading time: two generous pours.

NV Marquis de la Mysteriale Cuvee de Grand Esprit

In contrast to still wines, most Champagnes have different vintages. You may notice “NV” or “MV” on the label, which means “non-vintage” and “multi-vintage,” in turn. Champagne houses store a certain amount of the wine they harvest in reserve to mix it later on. The cellar master at the Champagne house (the chef de cave) must ensure consistency in the style of each release. They accomplish this by mixing older reserve wines and the newly harvested wines to create the combination, which¬†is the unique taste of the profile characteristic of a Champagne house.

The Marquis de la Mysteriale Cuvee of Grand Esprit is produced by Florent Gauthier, an artisan from France who attended the prestigious Macon School of Winemaking. Macon. Made up of 59 percent Chardonnay and 41 percent Pinot Noir, the final blend contains more than a third of reserve wines up to 8 years of age. They are kept in oak barrels containing 4,000 liters in reserve. This adds quality and consistency to the style Gauthier hopes to create each year. Lemon peel candied and orchard fruit scents are accompanied by an intense and zesty mousse layered with apple caramel and pear with a dark toffee-like finish.

2007 Champagne Delamotte Blanc de Blancs

Although most Champagne wines comprise multiple years of wine, Vintage-dated Champagne is a sign of an excellent harvest, as the entire crop of a given year is harvested, cultivated, and then bottled.

Experts tend to record information about changes in the climate that might have caused champagne houses to declare the vintage. The 2007 harvest season brought in a hot spring followed by a cool and dry summer. Then, uncharacteristically, warmer weather returned at the end of August, forcing many producers to harvest earlier than expected for fear of grapes ripening too much, which could lead to an increase in sugar levels and a decrease in acidity — bad news since acidity is the hallmark of excellent Champagne.

This is sparkling champagne of the highest quality that was a hit throughout the year 2007: Champagne Delamotte blended grapes from the Grands Crus of Le Mesnil Sur Oger, Oger, Avize Cramant, and Oger that today reveal the most creamy mousse, which is served with candied citrus peels and caramel aromas and the tart, lemon apple flavors and a slack acidity that leads to a finishing that is characterized by earthy, black truffle minerality. This is the type of complex that you’d expect from vintage-dated Champers.

Besserat de Bellefon “Cuvee des Moines” Brut NV

A few different Champagne Besserat’s labels bear the word “Cuvee des Moines,” meaning “Blend of the Monks,” and is a tribute to the alleged inventors behind Champagne wines: the early Benedictine monks, with the most well-known being Dom Perignon. The claim that Perignon made Champagne has been disproved repeatedly and over. It has been pointed out that Perignon tried to stop the secondary fermentation that was taking place in the bottle, which they were unable to explain at the time.

This was because, during the late 17th century, wines produced in Champagne typically stopped fermenting as the cool weather of autumn began to set in. These still wines that had not finished fermentation would ignite again in the spring, usually after being bottled and arriving in England. The renowned writer Hugh Johnson points out in The World Atlas of Wine that, if not the British who claimed to have invented sparkling wine (more than finding it in port), it could be “the inhabitants of Limoux,” who claimed to have “made the first brut sparkling wine in the 16th century.” While the factual evidence will remain a mystery to the past, it is a fact Cuvee des Moines should not be overlooked -honeysuckle, white peach, and plum flavors mix with juicy stone fruits that are tipped with hazelnut, highlighted by zingy and assertive acidity.

Ruinart Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Champagne wines made of 100 percent Chardonnay grapes are known as “Blanc de Blancs,” meaning it’s white wine derived from white grapes. Ruinart is the longest-running Champagne house and has more than five miles of cavernous, breathtakingly impressive limestone cellars (called prayers) that start at 124 feet beneath the ground and are entirely excavated by hand. In all, the basements contain over 20 caves. They were declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in the year 2015.

The caves are located under the streets of Reims, One of three towns that form the triumvirate in Reims in the Champagne region. Two other towns include Epernay as well as Ay. In the case of Blanc de Blancs, Premier Cru vines from the Cote des Blancs (an area south of Epernay and Montagne de Reims) produce sparkling and crisp, filled with fresh lemon peel, ripe poached pears, yellow apple with ginger, brioche, ginger spices and a smoky mineral-like finish that is flinty and smoky.

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