With the holiday season getting underway, you may well be thinking about the best champagnes to accompany your celebrations. The doyenne of festive drinks, fizzy and light, champagne is synonymous with the generous indulgence of the holiday season.
Don’t be lulled into thinking festive fizz is just an aperitif. The best bubbles can provide the perfect backdrop for a wide range of dishes. Whether you are looking for a champagne to sip solo, toast your friends, or to pair with dessert, here are nine that are guaranteed to delight.
Dom Pérignon: Brut Vintage 2012
The original: “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!” — Dom Pérignon famously said upon discovering champagne. And it doesn’t get more luxurious than this. Perhaps the most famous Champagne in the world, this festive drink is one to be treasured and enjoyed on the most special of occasions.
Each vintage is a creation, singular and unique, and expresses both the character of the year, and the character of Dom Pérignon. The most recent release is the 2012 vintage (£220/$250), described as having a unique structure, channeled by acidity and bitterness that burst forth magnificently. The finish is marked by ginger, tobacco and toasted accents.
Laurent-Perrier: Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature
Delicious with seafood: Whatever you serve at the festive dinner table, salmon, oysters and other seafood make for a decadent treat. Fresh and light, the forte of a Blanc de Blancs is that it can be used widely and served as more than an aperitif. For the best bubbles, try Laurent-Perrier’s dry and intensely fruity Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature (£80/$100). It’s simply divine with oysters.
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Pol Roger: Sir Winston Churchill 2013
A real treat with cheese: Cheese and champagne may be debated, but for many it is a match made in heaven. For a truly decadent treat choose a Pol Roger, one of the world’s finest Champagnes. The drink’s crisp acidity and fluffy mouse is said to lighten the fattiness of the cheeses, without overpowering them aromatically. Hard mature cheeses deserve a powerful cuvée, so go all out for a bottle of Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2013 (£380/$460).
Drappier: Carte d’Or
A more affordable cheese accompaniment: Renowned for its versatility, Drappier’s Carte d’Or (£55/$65) is another of the best Champagnes to pair with cheese. It offers a distinctive flavor with aromatic notes such as peaches, almonds, or orange peels. According to its makers, the original yellow tone of Carte d’Or stems from the quince, often used with a cheese board. Old Comté and Chaource make the perfect companions to Carte d’Or, and the perfect way to celebrate the holidays.
Piper Heidseck: Sublime Demi-Sec NV
Perfect with dessert: Matching dessert and Champagne is where your need to exercise caution, as most are too dry for truly sweet dishes. One of the best Champagnes is Piper-Heidsieck’s long-aged Sublime Demi-Sec NV (£55/$65). Generous with glorious burned-sugar aromatics, it is recommended to be served with a burnt crème brûlée.
Krug: Grande Cuvée Brut
To raise a toast: For a toast to the season, or simply enjoyed for what it is, the Krug Grande Cuvée Brut (£180/$220) deserves to be appreciated entirely on its own. A glorious full-bodied Champagne, made with a blend of nearly 200 wines, it is perfect for those who prefer bubbles with a rounder flavor profile. It is rich with stone fruit and citrus, with just an edge of spice and hint of chocolate. In the words of Krug, enjoy craftsmanship without compromise. Pleasure beyond perfection. One of the world’s best champagnes.
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Pol Roger: Brut Réserve
For the sunshine: Perfect anywhere, especially if you are spending the holiday season in the sunshine. This champagne smells of wildflowers, green apples, croissants and mineral touches. It tastes of peach, hazelnuts and honey, supporting the freshness of acidity. One of the best bubbles, try the stylish Brut Reserve (£180/$220).
Henri Giraud: Dame Jane Rosé
Best of the Rosé: Rosé Champagne offers a wealth of versatility in terms of food pairing. Yet it is traditionally the most misunderstood of Champagne’s styles. The pink color encourages sweet, romantic connotations rather than vinous and gastronomic ones, however, there is so much to explore. Bursting with power and character, Henri Giraud’s sandstone-amphorae-fermented Dame-Jane Rosé NV (£65/$80) matches impeccably with charcuterie and roasted root vegetables.
Möet & Chandon: Brut Imperial
Best magnum for big gatherings: If your holiday season means big family gatherings, a magnum is perfect for furnishing loved ones with festive drinks. And Möet & Chandon Brut Imperial is one of the best champagnes you can offer. Described as having vibrant notes of apple and citrus fruits, accompanied by aromas of brioche and fresh nuts, typical of the aging process. On the palate, it is generous and subtle.
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