Champagne is heavily marketed for its “perfect balance” or its dependable “one quality,” but unfortunately its luxury status has led most of us to simply adore its faithful bubbles and completely overlook its complicated charm as one of the world’s best white wines. Why don’t we respect Champagne more? Why don’t we study our glass of it, or sniff and swirl it?
Part of the problem is that Champagne is thought of and created as a formulaic product, like Coca-Cola or Tropicana, not like a wine. Champagne is the most manipulated and jiggered with of all wines. If you were to taste one of the big Champagne house’s still wines during the final dosage, you’d find nothing but an overly acidic wine that’s been stripped of its character and topped off with the perfectly calculated, sugary cocktail that sadly makes every New Year’s Eve sip taste exactly the same.
Personally, we like to go beyond the uniform taste of the more mainstream houses and beyond champagne’s tired role as an aperitif or toast-maker. New York Vintners. focuses on exploring Champagne’s smaller producers, and at the dinner table, we like to pair champagne with anything from fried artichokes to a big brown butter pasta dish. We especially like to discover and think about what’s in our glass of Champagne. Vintage Blanc de Blancs, for example, are particularly fascinating because they show the character of the terroir; they reveal the distinctions that come with more clay or less chalk in the soil.
So with all this in mind, here are some of the region’s more interesting producers you might want to keep in mind this holiday season:
Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Blanc de Blancs – $75
Jacques Selosse NV Brut Initial – $145
Henriot NV Brut Soverain – $49
Bruno Gobillard NV Brut Vieilles Vignes – $67
DeMeric NV Brut Grand Reserve Sous Bois – $36