To write about Champagne this week or next? Lest you think this pressing question has been decided by a coin toss, it was determined by the remarks of my partner in the other room. “This week, so people can find Champagne for the holidays.” OK, something else is going to have to be up my sleeve for the column before New Year’s Eve. Here we go:
Champagne Pierre Moncuit, Hugues de Coulmet, Blanc de Blancs, NV: Champagne Pierre Moncuit is located in the Cote des Blancs region of France, but they also have a tiny bit of land in the Côte de Sézanne, an up-and-coming area in Aube, champagne’s most southern area. Like its better-known cuvee, Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs (which for about $40 is also a steal), this is composed entirely of chardonnay. With floral notes, lemon meringue and a slightly creamy palate, this could easily go for closer to $50 a bottle. Suggested retail: $38
Chartogne-Taillet, Cuvee Saint Anne, NV: Since taking over from his mother, Elisabeth Chartogne, Alexandre Chartogne has employed a strict organic regimen with some biodynamic aspects. The base wine for Cuvée Saint Anne is from 2010, with the rest coming from 2009 and 2008. It was vinified in stainless steel tanks and never filtered. Lively with hints of apples, spice, rose hips and almonds, this is a classic NV Champagne that hits all the right notes. You will definitely not find a better Champagne at this price. Suggested retail: $45
Champagne Benoit Lahaye, Rosé de Maceration, NV: Benoit Lahaye’s wines are made in very small quantities, and finding this wine may not be terribly easy. But it’s worth the treasure hunt. Lahaye came under the tutelage of Julien Meyer in Alsace, returned home and took over the family holdings in Montagne de Reims in 1996, employing organic and biodynamic methods. His rosé has piercing minerality with strawberries, pomegranate and rose hips. This is the best rosé Champagne I tried in 2013. Suggested retail: $50
Champagne Gaston Chiquet, Millésime Brut, 2004: Chiquet is one of the oldest growers of Champagne, having bottled its first wines in 1919 under the name Chiquet Frères. The brothers went their own ways in 1935 and today, Gaston Chiquet’s grandsons run the domain. With nougat, brioche and cherries, underscored by chalky minerality, Chiquet’s layers will continue to multiply over the next 10 years but it is a delicious drink now. Suggested retail: $67
Domaine Emmanuel Brochet Champagne, Le Mont Benoit, 1er Cru, Extra Brut, 2006: Brochet is the only producer whose entire stash comes from Le Mont Benoit, a 6-acre parcel in Montagne de Reims. This vintage Champagne has a slightly briny, oyster shell minerality wrapped with almonds, brioche, spice and honey. If you are thinking about really splurging, this is the one. It should also age well for the next 15 years. Suggested retail: $72
Pamela S. Busch is a wine writer and educator who has owned several wine bars in San Francisco, including Hayes and Vine and CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen.