Champagne is delicious sparkling wine made by the "Méthode Champenoise"
and always from Champagne, France. There are other wonderful sparkling wines, but
Champagne is always from France. It's a perfect everyday wine that is
amazingly food friendly. Yes, expensive Tête de Cuvée Champagnes are great
for celebrations also, like the 1st Wednesday of the month or your Aunt Gert's
And there are plenty of Champagnes and sparklers that won't break the bank!
Some farmers not only grow grapes in Champagne but also make and bottle their own Champagne, and this so called "Farmer Fizz" has heaps of personality, and displays terroir most other Champagne do not and can not. It's also fun to drink!
Most Champagne Brands like Cristal, La Grande Dame, and Dom Perignon are made by large producers that are called "Champagne Houses," for example Roederer, Veuve Cliquot and Moet and Chandon. Many produce amazing amounts of wine, often with remarkable quality and consistency.
I prefer Champagne, but there is pretty good sparkling wine made in many areas of the world: California, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, New Mexico, Argentina, Italy, and even Massachusetts. I'm certainly no snob, for example I love most cheap Spanish sparkling wine (called "Cava") and even the stuff from Massachusetts.
There are many reasons to travel to Champagne and seeing wine producers and visiting their 2000+ year old cellars built in impressive Gallo-Roman chalk mines are but one reason. The charming city of Reims with its Gothic Masterpiece Cathedrale Notre Dame, the old city of Troyes, and the Champagne Routes through the country are just a few reasons.
You do not need much to enjoy Champagne, but we
prefer proper glasses, although we admit to
occasionally swigging it out of the bottle, "Billionaire on a Yacht Style"
and maybe once or twice drinking it through crazy straws with the odd cute
babysitter. A few other accessories can be useful too, e.g. a Champagne
Bucket and Champagne Stopper.
South African Bubbly - I'm back in South Africa, trying wines and updating almost daily!
Vazard-Coquart - A Chouilly, Cotes des Blancs producer making primarily Blanc de blancs. Their entry level Brut Reserve didn't excite me.
Dosnon & Lepage - A new artisan producer with fascinating wines. I'm impressed!
Sparkling Sake? - A pleasant surprise!
Pierre Gimonnet - Stylish refined Côte des Blancs wines with well integrated minerality. Mainly Blanc de blancs.
Crémant de Bourgogne - Added a tasting note for Bailly Lapierre Brut, a simple and cheap one that is OK. I like their 100% Pinot Noir much better - about US$15 and a B+
Gonet-Medeville - A Small Grower-Producer in Bisseuil making both fun and serious wines. I like 'em!
Rare Wine Company Le Mesnil Champagne - Added a tasting note for the 2002 Cuvee Sans Malo from magnum - a great deal and very nice wine!
Veuve Fourny & Fils - A small Grower in Vertus in the Côte des Blanc, making distinctive 100% Vertus wines.
Naveran Cava - Updated with the awesome Naveran Cava Brut 2010, definitely a best buy in sparkling wines!
Champagne Delamotte - Sister winery (same winemaker and facilities) to the mindblowing Salon and sometimes using their grapes.
Jean Milan - A new tasting note for this Chardonnay specialist on their Grand Reserve 1864, a NV wine based on older vintages and aged in oak. Yummy!
Sparkling Vouvray - Added a tasting note for Moncontour Brut Sparkling Vouvray, a pleasant US$17 or so quaffer. Warm, round, and fun!
Duval-Leroy - Just added a tasting note for the Duval-Leroy Brut, always a crowd pleaser, and a great deal around US$30!
Gruet Winery - Damn Good Sparkling Wines and more from New Mexico. Added a tasting note on their Blanc de noirs (a wonderful B+ rating at under US$20!).
Argentina & Sparkling Wine - Argentina actually produces a lot of Sparkling Wine (Vinos Espumante), and based on what we've tried it's very good!.
Crémant de Bourgogne - Burgundy makes some of the best wines on the planet, period! It makes sense their sparkling wines would be good too, and they are. Less expensive than Champagne, and although not mind-blowing, damn good and damn good values!
Champagne François Diligent - In the far south, a brand new, revamped, and interesting lineup including an interesting 100% Pinot Blanc!
Taittiinger - One of the big boys, making wines of elegance and grace. Their Comptes de Champagne qualifies as one of the nest Champagnes, period!
Janisson-Baradon - a grower producer based in Epernay with 9 hectares of vines.
Camille Savès - Kick Butt Bouzy Champagne I love: creamy, plenty of minerals, complex, and just fun to drink!
Champagne Charles Ellner - Powerful wines from a family run house> Not very well known in the US but producing about 1 million bottles of bubbly a year.
Barefoot Bubbly and Barefoot Champagne - Now owned by Gallo, Barefoot produces an OK budget Brut and Extra Brut, and their Sparkling Pinot Grigio is OK too. I suggest you AVOID the rest of the sparkling wines!
Parxet Cava - Making Spanish Sparkling wines since 1920.
Codorníu Cava - The biggest producer of all sparkling wines made by the traditional method worldwide and where Cava was first made!
Freixenet - A widespread Spanish Cava, especially their Cordon Negro in the black bottle.
Crémant de Limoux - A modern styled sparkling wine from the Languedoc in southwestern France.
Cremant d'Alsace - Sparkling Wine from the Alsace Region of France, which can be very good!
Good Cheap Wine - There is plenty of inexpensive wine that rocks.
Chartogne-Taillet - Importer Thierry Thiese's 'most exciting young producer in Champagne'
- A small negociant making Pinot Noir dominant wines in the Montage