As some of you know, I drink a glass of Champagne every night. For me, Champagne demarcates the day from the night. It says the evening has begun. And because I immediately “recork” the bottle with a stopper after pouring a glass, a bottle will last me five days (ok, sometimes three). After a year of drinking lots of great Champagnes, here’s my list of the top ten.
Some of the wines that follow are “Grower Champagnes”–small producers who own all of their own vineyards. Some are from the bigger well-known “houses.” And one is from an excellent co-operative. These are not listed in a hierarchy of best to “least best.” I loved them all and scored most of them in my own notes as 95 points or above. (Read to the end to discover my house Champagne). All of these are available right now at Gary’s.com or Wine.com.
MARC HEBRART Premier Cru “Mes Favorites” Vieille Vignes Brut Non-vintage $76
I’d drink anything from Marc Hébrart anytime. A grower with superb vineyards, Hébrart’s Champagnes have snowy finesse. They’re serenely rich but dance with energy.
GASTON CHIQUET Blanc de Blancs d’Aÿ Brut Non-vintage $60
The famous village of Ay is known for Pinot Noir, but Chiquet makes this vivid, pure, fresh, and frothy Blanc de Blancs from his small plot of Chardonnay there. Positively aerial with lift.
GOSSET Grande Réserve Brut Non-vintage $56
Gosset (pronounced go-SAY) is the oldest Champagne house, dating from 1584. The house’s Grande Réserve is all about finesse, and yet it possesses loads of richness at the same time. Waves of citrus, peach, and quince float on gentle notes of brioche. Good backbone of fresh acidity too.
POL ROGER “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” 2012 $299
The late British Premier Winston Churchill had cases of this extraordinary prestige cuvée Champagne delivered to 10 Downing Street every week. Rich, complex, refined, and lucid with deliciousness, it’s impossible not to be stopped in your tracks by this extraordinary wine.
MICHEL GONET Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2014 $69
Gonet makes Champagnes with wildly distinct flavors and fantastic personality. They have that starched, minerally, vivid character that comes from Chardonnay grown on pure limestone. Incredibly fresh, taut, and buoyant.
BILLECART SALMON Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2009 $100
The Billecart Rosé may be more famous, but this house’s vintage Blanc de Blancs is a super star—wickedly energetic on the palate with shooting stars of minerality set off against notes of brioche. Cooly rich. Irresistible. One of my very top top top favorites of the year.
A. MARGAINE Premier Cru L’Extra Brut Non-vintage $60
Haunting dry; a tightrope of crispness. Acidity that hits soprano highs. Packed with lime zest, mandarin orange and starfruit flavors. Edgy and vivid, this wine is often my choice when the food is supple and rich—like triple crème cheese or smoked salmon.
PIERRE GIMONNET Brut Extra Non-vintage $49
Tap dancing with every citrusy flavor in the world from mandarin orange to yuzu. The waves of freshness and mouthwatering acidity make this dangerously deliciously; the whole bottle will disappear in no time.
PIERRE PETERS “Cuvée de Réserve” Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut Non-vintage $69
With Grand Cru vineyards on veins of limestone running through the Côte des Blancs, the grower Pierre Péters makes sleek, racy Champagnes that are jewels—ravishingly beautiful, snowy, crystalline. Plus flavors that are deeply resonant and complex. My eyes light up whenever I see a bottle of this about to be opened.
NICOLAS FEUILLATTE Brut Non-vintage $36
Feuilliatte (pronounced FOY-yat) is the largest co-operative in Champagne and the number one best selling Champagne in France. It’s also my house Champagne which I buy by the case. It’s not as complex as some of the other wines here, but penny for penny, it’s terrific and a steal.