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Favorite NV Champagne?

What's your favorite best-bet nonvintage champagne, preferably under $40? I rather like Veuve-Clicquot, but it seems to get something of a bum rap this days. Thinking maybe I should branch out a bit.

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  1. Yellow label used to be my go-to, but for my palate, it's changed since the company was sold. It's not bad... just not what it was, and - for all of it -- a bit pricy. I prefer Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve. It's also a full-bodied NV, and feels better in my mouth. I can get it at Wine Library for $29.95. That's a qpr that's hard to beat. ;)

    1. If you want a bargain why not go with the metode champenois sparkling wines made in California by the French champagne companies? Domaine Chandon comes to mind. Cuvee Mumm isn't bad either.

      8 Replies
      1. re: kagemusha49

        I don't much like Moët's French NV offering, so I'm not particularly excited to try the domestic one. Maybe I'll give it a go, however. I've heard better things about Roederer's California sparkling. Any experience with that?

        1. re: Fozzie_Bear

          Haven't tried it but my basic point remains - any French champagne house selling a California Methode Champenoise has to maintain its reputation and standards - expect a relative bargain. Oh and IMHO I like the Moet California product better than its French NV counterpart.

          1. re: Fozzie_Bear

            The N.V. Roederer from Cali is outstanding for the price. 91 points in my opinion and for $15 hard to beat.

            1. re: wineglas1

              Wow. I live in CA and don't find Roederer for under $17 when on big deal sale. Often even sale price is over $20 and usually at $25 regular price. I agree though that it is best of the CA made French-owned sparklers, esp their more expensive bottlng.

              1. re: wineglas1

                Ditto on the Roederer quality, but around here the lowest it comes in at is $18 these days. more likely $21.

                1. re: ChefJune

                  Minnesota has some of the best prices on wine in the country on certain brands and the closeout deals are crazy in our market. I can't even post them it is so low on certain well known producers. I just picked up Mondavi Napa Cab 2008 for $14.44 which is the lowest price I have seen well over a decade.

              2. re: Fozzie_Bear

                You make a great point - wine is all about one's personal tastes, and their palates.

                If you like it, then what I, or others think, should be mostly discounted.

                In the end, it is about what YOU like. Do not be ashamed, whether it's Crystal, Dom Perignon, La Grand Dame, or others. It is about what you like best.

                Now, that does not mean that you will not like some small houses' offerings, but then, you might not.

                Personally, in the VC lineup, I like Yellow Label over most offerings of La Grand Dame, and I have many of those in my cellar, along with several vintage offerings for that house.



                1. re: Fozzie_Bear

                  Roederer is good and definitely a solid pick for the money. It's pretty big - lots of body, not as refined as a lot of bubbly out there. Toasty. But if that floats your boat and you're looking for an option that won't break the bank, it's a great one.

              3. One way to greatly improve Champagne (NV or Vintage) is to bottle age it for 6 months to 2 years. Producers have a habit of releasing wine early to help with thier cash flow but all quality wine benefits from a resting period after shipping. I've done this with Veuve, Henriot, Bollinger, Heidsieck, Guy Charlemagne, and others with positive results

                1 Reply
                1. re: KraTToR

                  Although Charles Heidsieck and Piper-Heidsieck are owned and made by the same company, their styles are quite dissimilar. The Charles is not released early. So if you're bottle aging that one, it's already been..... Not to say it can't improve.

                2. A few recent finds that I quite enjoyed last christmas.

                  Barnaut Blanc de Noirs Brut Champagne grand cru
                  Pascal Doquet Blanc de blancs Brut

                  they both are around $45 canadian pesos in Québec (all taxes included), so probably around $30 US pesos.

                  1. Launois "Quartz"
                    Franck Bonville
                    H. Billiot
                    Pierre Moncuit

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Brad Ballinger

                      I agree I too like Billot, especially the rosé.

                      1. re: cosmogrrl

                        Thank you for mentioning Franck Bonville. I especially love the Cuvée Les Belles Voyes Brut Blanc de Blancs.

                    2. For the $25-$35 range, I like the basic brut offerings from Mumm, Piper-Heidsick, and Nicholas Feuillete. I also just scored the Numm Napa for $16.99 on sale today. For anything less expensive, I usually turn to Cava, Prosecco, or Cremant from France. Yay, love sparkling!

                      1. Something else to consider is Gruet's Blanc de Noir, usually available for about $15 or so. It's our house sparkler, and is made in New Mexico by the Gruet family from Champagne. The Gruet Sauvage, made from all Chardonnay grapes, is also very nice, but it's not readily available in my market (Dayton OH) .

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Niki in Dayton

                          Love the Gruet. I've been branching out trying new stuff lately, so I haven't had any in a while, but what about Tattinger? Nobody mentioned that, always my reliable favorite. Is it still?

                          1. re: Niki in Dayton

                            I like the Gruet too, but Pol Roger is my go to NV.

                            1. re: Niki in Dayton

                              I really like the Gruet as well. Also the Graham Beck Sparkling Rose from South Africa.

                            2. Presented in the FWIW mode, a few days late and a couple of dollars short . . .

                              Clicquot IS getting a bum rap these days -- like for the past 5+ years -- and deservedly so, IMHO. The quality isn't there anymore, not since LVMH decided to push Clicquot's Yellow Label over Moët's Brut Impérial. C'est la vie . . .

                              Pierre Peters n.v. Brut is outstanding, but is on the north side of $40, so let's set that one aside. Also, while we're at it, I can't speak to retail pricing in New York, so some of these may top $40. You have my apologies in advance.

                              In RANDOM order -- that is, off the top of my head -- Charles Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Tattinger, Ayala, and of course Bollinger (and Krug) are excellent non-vintage Bruts, and should be readily available.

                              From among the French-owned California efforts, Roederer Estate is (IMHO) the clear winner, followed by Domaine Carneros. However, it must be said that the finest sparkling wine made in California is Equinox -- though it's highly unlikely to be available in New York.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: zin1953

                                Krug at $40? I can't even find that price at wholesale!

                                Seconded the Pol Roger and the Pierre Peters though.

                                My advice? Go to a reputable wine store, and tell them you want a Grower-Producer champagne. (It will have an "RM" on the Label). Theses are smaller (usually) houses, and there can be fantastic bargains as opposed to a bigger name.

                                1. re: plaidbowtie

                                  I don't think Krug would be $40 even at a Fire Sale! But it is SO worth the money for a special occasion.

                                  My favorite domestic bubblies are from Iron Horse, but some can be a bit pricy. When I'm buying domestic, I almost always buy Gruet these days for the great qpr. Except for Wedding Cuvee. Used to go with Roeder Anderson Valley, but that price has climbed lately, and I can usually find Gruet for slightly more than half the price of the Roederer.

                                  1. re: plaidbowtie

                                    Plaidbowtie's advice is the best yet, IMHO. It's all about "grower" Champagne.

                                    At the non-vintage level, the better among the RMs (and more boutique NMs) almost necessary make a superior product as compared to the big Grandes Marques (which, unless you're a real Champagne geek, includes pretty much every name you've heard of). They will be less familiar names, but they also usually come from very prestigious premier and grand cru villages, and the ones that have some kind of distribution usually to have a reason to exist. Terry Thesie is the godfather of the RM Champagne movement, and his producers are still among the best: Varnier-Fanniere; Pierre Gimonnet; Pierre Peters; Billiot; Rene Geoffroy; Margaine; Marc Hebrart: Vilmart; Lallement, et al. Also, the handful of RMs imported by Louis-Dressner Selections; Becky Wasserman; Neal Rosenthal; and Kermit Lynch are all worth trying.

                                    1. re: georgempavlov

                                      Big, corporate bubbles are to champagne what Cheesecake Factory is to dining. All the big houses are still buying sur-lattes, though the practice is technically illegal. At twelve million bottles a year, Veuve is all about LVMH shareholder value, not the celebration of terroir.

                                      Terry Thiese's catalog is a great read and a manifesto for the greatness of grower champagne.


                                      For the same price as corporate plonk, I'll take Gaston Chiquet, Aubrey, Thierry Triolet, Diebolt Vallois, Bereche, Delavenne (maybe my new go-to bubbles).

                                      1. re: chefdilettante

                                        I agree with some of your premise, but have to disagree to some extent.
                                        I think there is value in grower champagne, moreso than any of the big houses. However, I have to disagree that ALL "corporate bubbles" equate to Cheesecake factory. Do you ever drink Dom (LVMH) or Krug? One could argue that they don't offer the value that Billiot, Peters, or Vilmart offer, but they make excellent wine. In every region there are going to be wines that are not "value" (eg grand cru burg, first growths) but that are still excellent. Dom has always made a boatload of wine, and IMO case-production really isn't the primary index of quality in champagne.
                                        Lastly, I think Champagne is about the last place where drinkers are concerned with terroir. Vast blends can turn out great. As an example, something like vintage Krug can be every bit as good as Krug Clos de Mesnil.
                                        Personally I drink a lot of Feuillate NV and Gloria Ferrer vintage at the low end. Climbing up the ladder I'd go Bollinger, Vilmart, Billiot, Ruinart, Peters, Vilmart. At the top I still love Dom, Krug,Taittinger Comtes, and Salon.
                                        BTW, I agree that Veuve yellow label is not what it was 10+ years back, though I actually think it is a LITTLE better over the past year+ than it was 2-4 years back.

                                        1. re: john gonzales

                                          >>> BTW, I agree that Veuve yellow label is not what it was 10+ years back, though I actually think it is a LITTLE better over the past year+ than it was 2-4 years back. <<<
                                          Had it Xmas day, and it was VERY disappointing . . .

                                          When Dom Pérignon is "on," it can be excellent. Krug's multi-vintage is weaker than it was -- can't speak to their recent vintage bottlings, their Clos de Mesnil, or their "Collection" -- and that's the fault of "corporate."

                                          But corporate ownership does NOT (I agree) automatically equate to poor quality.

                                          1. re: zin1953

                                            I'm not saying the Veuve yellow is good. I just think it was actually worse previously. I still wouldn't buy it especially as the price has gone up again.
                                            Re Dom,.despite 03 being a rough vintage in europe the 03 is pretty solid. I thought the 02 was very solid too. Certainly not up with classics like 96 or 90, but very good. IMO Dom hasn't slipped overall.
                                            We had a discussion about the Krug MV on one of the wine boards. some do think it is not as good as it once was. A bunch of us feel that perhaps they are releasing a bit younger, and perhaps on average the base wines are younger. I think it is more important now than in the past to let the Krug MV have a year+ in the cellar. Doing that the end result (IMO) is still really good.
                                            For the sake of disclosure, my wife sells these and a bunch of other "corporate" bubblies.
                                            P.S. I think the Duval-Leroy wines (V & NV) are good for the $.

                                            1. re: zin1953

                                              If you prefer a yeastier / buiscuty style of Champagne, don't buy it in December. The big producers all flood the market with early-disgorged product for the holidays. Buy a bottle now (holiday) and another in June, drink them side by side, you'll see. My favorite grower / producer is Laurent Grethen of Champagne Grethen. Remarkably inexpensive, also remarkably unavailable in the USA unfortunately. Feuillatte, Henriot, and for a bit more Roderer are all solid NVs.

                                        2. re: georgempavlov

                                          excellent post and suggestions by george

                                        3. re: plaidbowtie

                                          Obviously Krug's "multi-vintage" Grande Cuvée is a wee bit more than $40; hence, the enclosure within parentheses.

                                      2. My US favorites are Argyle, Schramsberg and Roederer.

                                        1. surprised nobody's mentioned Lasalle yet. Both their Brut & Brut Rose are fine expressions in the $30 range. Camille Saves is another one of my favorite, but they're priced in the mid $40's.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: zinFAN

                                            I've been adoring the '02 Saves Brut Milliseme.

                                          2. We rather like the VC NV Yellow Label (though I feel that it is "orange label"), too.

                                            There are some great, smaller houses, and most are quite good, but for availability, the VC has been there, when we wanted it. Just popped a bottle for our 41st anniversary, though I have many more vintage Champagnes in the cellar. It was quite nice, while sitting on the lanai, looking at the sunset over the mountains.


                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Bill, I agree. VC is a fine and accessible Champagne and suspect that VC has just become another victim of "familiarity breeds contempt" in the foodie work.

                                              The story behind the resurgance of VC is fascinating. VC was languishing until it was bought by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) who modernined production and reinvigorated the brand. But the real stroke of marketing genius occured when it was one of the first large Champagne houses to sell in large volume to Costco. The price point was right (below $40) and the rest is history.

                                              1. re: wanker

                                                "suspect that VC has just become another victim of "familiarity breeds contempt" in the foodie work."

                                                Could well be. I see so much of similar thoughts, such as ABC (Anything But Chardonnay, or Anything But Cabernet Sauvignon), and suspect that many would never drink anything, that is commonly available, however much they might like it.

                                                Now, I am a raw, unadulterated hedonist, in that I drink what I like, and never apologize to anyone. Is it the "latest," the "hottest," the "most blogged about?" "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a _____ ." At the end of my day, it is all about ME, and that is OK with ME.

                                                Now, wine is a very personal thing. I can easily see why responder A might like wine Z, more than wine Y, but that is what it's really all about.

                                                The OP asked for personal NV choices, and I gave mine. Are those "out of the mainstream?" Well, in a word, NO. Do I enjoy my choices? Usually.


                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  Hunt, have to say for the past several years I haven't been fond of VC. However last weekend I was at a friend's home and she was pouring Yellow Label. Have to say it was just fine. ;)

                                                  Not sure I'll buy it, as around here it's$15 more than the Charles Heidsieck I really like, but I was glad to see it was still very drinkable.

                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    I'm suprised no one has mentioned Perrier Jouet.

                                                    1. re: Stuartmc910

                                                      Well . . . it's all about personal taste, isn't it?

                                                    2. re: ChefJune


                                                      It is all about personal tastes, and should be about individual enjoyment.

                                                      Some shun anything, that has any "popularity," and will expend great energy to find something else. I am less inclined, and more of a hedonist, and will usually go with what I like, regardless of how popular, or unpopular those might be.

                                                      Do I greatly enjoy some tiny Champagne house's production? Of course I do, but when sitting in my hotel room in New Orleans, I have few choices, and like to have at least one, that satisfies me, though maybe not as much as some obscure producer's product.

                                                      It is the same, across the wine-spectrum. I love the wines of some producers, and from some regions, that are "obscure" to much of the US. However, I cannot always enjoy those, so choose more "mainstream" offerings, as they are more likely available - or at least I hope so.

                                                      As for Champagne, I rather like some of the lower-end VC offerings, than their higher-end wines. For me, the Yellow Label (still looks orange to me) gets higher points, than does Le Grand Dame, or some of their Vintage offerings. Am I a Visigoth? Yeah, probably, but I drink what amuses me, and make no apologies. In the immortal words of the great philosopher Pop Eye the Sailor, "I yam, what I yam... "

                                                      Glad that you still found the VC Yellow Label drinkable. If I am in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Rome or similar, I will look beyond, but in Sioux Falls, I will be glad to drink VC Yellow Label, rather than Cook's.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        < I will be glad to drink VC Yellow Label, rather than Cook's.>

                                                        Hunt, you said a mouthful! ;)

                                                  2. re: wanker

                                                    VC might be a victim in the foodie network but I think in the wine world its status has slipped quite a bit and likely deservedly so. VC seems more interested in marketing gimics than producing a wine that is truly compelling. OTH, members of my own home love it...

                                                    1. re: ibstatguy

                                                      I agree about VC. Rather drink some grower or "farmer fizz". Pierre Peters, Aubry (our current favorite), Billiot, Morlet, P. Gimonnet, Gaston Chiquet.....

                                                      1. re: HoosierFoodie

                                                        As would I (obviously), but the Pierre Peters (for example) is certainly more expensive than Veuve Clicquot . . .

                                                        The ONE advantage that Veuve Clicquot has is LVMH -- anytime they want to (typically November & December), they can slash the cost of the wine and get a truly substantial reduction in the shelf price (versus the WSRP) . . . .

                                                      2. re: ibstatguy

                                                        Well, much depends on who is doing the surveys. I can remember two, very big "ABC" campaigns, and still see vestiges of them - "Anything but Chardonnay," and the companion piece, "Anything but Cabernet," meaning Cabernet Sauvignon.

                                                        Many feel that if there is any semblance of popularity, it must be only for the "common people," and not worthy of response from the elite.

                                                        Again, I am a hedonist... a wino, and try to only drink what amuses me, whether someone in NYC touts it, or not.

                                                        Do I limit myself? Not on your life. I attend several Champagne tasting events, and note what I enjoy. Some of the producers are tiny, with but a few hundred cases produced, and some are major houses, with millions of cases produced. Do I care how obscure any are? No way. It is about MY enjoyment, and I could care less about what some "wine porn" writer has to say about it.

                                                        At the end of the day, drink what YOU like, and do not worry about it. I do not care if that is a box wine, or a fabulous 1er Cru Bdx, about which leather-bound books have been written. Drink what YOU like, and never look back - but DO look "around."


                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                          Bill - I never suggested that people shouldn't drink what they enjoy. As regards VC, I noted that members of family love VC. IMHO opnion though there are far better champagnes and at competitive prices to VC. You are correct that many champagnes and other wines may not be on store shelves everywhere but I am rather certain that they are available via Internet order in many of those same places.
                                                          Cheers and best wishes

                                                      3. re: wanker

                                                        Well, when one puts marketing the bottle ahead of what's actually IN the bottle . . .

                                                        1. re: zin1953


                                                          If marketing/advertising is what drives one, then they are but pawns. If they are, however, driven by what they enjoy, then all of the marketing is but "noise," and that should be firmly in the background.

                                                          I could give a "rat's hind end" about marketing. I am now, seldom in any marketing demographic, and am such a "crusty old dude," who drinks what he likes, and across the spectrum.

                                                          Though I spent many decades in the advertising business, I am not a good target for anyone's campaign. Give me wines that I enjoy, and I am fine.


                                                    2. Pol Roger. It's wonderful and I found it for around $30/bottle at a sale. Wonderful and great for special occasion or more casual nights as well.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: JeremyEG

                                                        Pol Roger, when you can find it "on sale" under $40, may be one of the best bargains ever. FWIW, the winemaker there now used to make wine at Krug.....

                                                        1. re: ChefJune

                                                          It's really great champagne. I actually got it for closer to $30 at my store's at-cost sale. But even at the store's normal price, it's less than $40.



                                                      2. Chartogne-Taillet and Egly-Ouriet

                                                        8 Replies
                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                            Ah, there is the rub. There are many great houses, and many obscure ones, BUT given a price-point, and then a distribution network, that expands beyond NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, or Los Angeles, and one is at the mercy of the distributors, the wholesalers, and then the retailers, or restaurants.

                                                            I could pick some great small houses, but they retail for US $ 100/btl, or are found in some great restaurants at US $ 300/btl. That is not hard.

                                                            Some folk feel that such a thread is a great opportunity to show their knowledge of totally obscure producers, or ones, who command much greater prices. That is usually NOT what it is about. I know several small houses, that do NOT distribute their NV Champagnes to the US, who have wonderful NV wines. What good does that do, should I recommend them? This is not a "my small house is better than your small house" thread.


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              >>> This is not a "my small house is better than your small house" thread. <<<

                                                              No, it is not. And, if you look at my post from February 18th, I actually mentioned Krug, albeit parenthetically,and with tongue-in-cheek (given the $40 "limit" of the OP). It was this original sentence -- "What's your favorite best-bet nonvintage champagne, preferably under $40?" -- that caused me to look askance at the suggestion of the Egly-Ouriet.

                                                              OTOH, back in that Feb. 18 post, I recommended several n.v. Champagnes at (or near) the desired price point.

                                                              1. re: zin1953


                                                                I agree. You always try to work within the parameters, that various posters impose, and have always done a great job, at least in my humble opinion.

                                                                You also translate the location very well, and I would assume that is from your experience in the distribution market. What I may have in Phoenix, or Sioux Falls, will be important. You factor the geographical location of the poster in, much better than almost anyone. It might be great, but if I cannot get it, who cares?

                                                                As one location might have different costs vs another, the price-points might differ, and perhaps greatly. That can be important. As important as "is this at a restaurant, or is it at a wine shop?"

                                                                I often think of what I might have in AZ, or nearby, but the availability to access, or the distribution in those areas, can play a big role. You always seem to take those aspects into consideration. That should always help the OP's.


                                                            2. re: zin1953

                                                              Currently at K &L and Beltramo's, there is a Chartogne-Taillet NV Champagne listed for $40 (Cuvee St. Anne).

                                                                1. re: ChefJune

                                                                  How much does Delamotte go for in the US? I don't normally enjoy champagne that much but Delamotte is one of the few that can tempt me.

                                                                  1. re: Julian Teoh

                                                                    Well, the "list" price is up around $50 or so, but it's commonly found on sale in the $35-39.99 range.

                                                          2. Fleury champagne is some of the very best champagne that I have ever had. I do not know what kinds are available here in the US, but they are a family who really excel in champagne production with biodynamic farming and soil cultivation. I got to know them when I lived in France and learned a lot about champagne production and quality from them, and they are my first choice in champagne.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: laraffinee

                                                              Fleury Champagnes are imported into the US by Domaine Select Wine Estates. They import five of their wines:

                                                              "Fleur d'Europe" -- n.v. Brut, 85 PN/15 CH
                                                              "Cépages Blancs" -- vintage-dated 100 percent Chardonnay
                                                              Vintage Brut -- 80 PN/20 CH
                                                              Vintage "Extra Brut" -- also 80/20, but with half the dosage
                                                              "Siecle d'Or" -- tête de cuvée

                                                            2. Living in France where Champagne means "Party !" I prefer VC Yellow Label. Always have.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: collioure

                                                                Clicquot Brut nv (aka "Yellow Label") is not the same wine in France as it is in the U.S. And here, it has sucked for at least the past 5+ years. I just had it again on Christmas Day, and it was even worse than I remembered . . .

                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                  Thank you, Jason, but I haven't had it here. In the States I used to offer it by the glass.

                                                                  Here I buy Champagne from a small producer as part of a group that orders every December. However, I don't open it very often. I prefer still wines.

                                                              2. 1) Mumm Cordon Rouge
                                                                2) Pommery Brut Royal
                                                                3) Taittinger La Francaise
                                                                4) Moet & Chandon White Star
                                                                5) Nicolas Feuillate Blue Label

                                                                All the above are readily accessible in the US market. There are also some great smaller labels which don't advertise but can be had reasonably in France that I didn't include.

                                                                Of the group, I really like Mumm's. It is dry without being too acid and has a really complex flavor profile. Also the Mumm's bottle is a classic, just love the way it looks. All the rest on the list are good too.

                                                                I have never liked the Veuve, it has always been to acid for my stomach and I tend to drink champagne as an aperitif.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: wally

                                                                    Not for many years . . . .

                                                                    If you are looking for n.v. Champagne under $10, it's not going to happen. On the other hand, if you are willing to expand your parameters and include sparkling wines from outside the Champagne region of France, then -- yes -- it is possible . . . barely.

                                                                    In the SF Bay Area, you can find some Spanish Cava <$10, as well as Domaine Ste. Michelle . . . .but -- generally speaking -- there is a world of difference in sparkling wines between the <$10 and the $15-20 range.

                                                                    1. re: wally

                                                                      For around $ 10 I really like the Chateau St. Michelle from Washington State. We are big fans of blanc de noirs (100% pinot noir), and theirs is very good.

                                                                  2. right now my favorite might be Margaine but the competition is fierce! ;-)

                                                                    1. Many good "grower" Champagnes mentioned, but my two favorites have been ignored, Cedric Bouchard, and Tarlant.

                                                                      Admittedly, may be a bit hard to find, but well worth the effort.

                                                                      I picked up a bottle of NV Tarlant Champagne Rosé Brut Nature (2008 vintage wine + reserves, disgorged 4/2012) from Chambers Street in NYC recently, and had it with NYE dinner. Killer bubbles. I think it was $58, but I got a case discount too.

                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                      1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                                        Pierre Peters is great but it is also about $55, and I used to get it for $35 just a couple of years ago.

                                                                        Jean Laurent, Billiot, Gosset, Tarlant, Agrapart, all very, very good Champagnes.

                                                                        For the $25-$30 range, I'm very happy with Duval Leroy, Lenoble, or Piper.

                                                                        For domestic, Gloria Ferret Royal Cuvee and Roederer Anderson's Valley.

                                                                        1. re: 4wino

                                                                          >>> Pierre Peters is great but it is also about $55, and I used to get it for $35 just a couple of years ago. <<<

                                                                          Yes. Well. I used to buy Dom Pérignon for $18.10 full retail, too, but . . .


                                                                          1. re: zin1953

                                                                            Ha, I had a feeling you'd say that, Jason.

                                                                            Serious question, did you pick zin because the old Gallo Hearty Burgundy was manly Zinfandel?


                                                                            1. re: 4wino

                                                                              No (although that's quite true). Rather, it's because I (used to) love Zinfandel. Still do, but I'm more into other wines now. OTOH, my license plate used to read ZNFNDL . . . christened my car with the only bottle of Ridge Zin I ever thought sucked (1971 Lodi Lot-W).

                                                                            2. re: zin1953

                                                                              And my introduction to Krug was $17.76 a bottle for the '66 in 1976 at Marty's in Dallas. I bought three bottles to celebrate passing the bar. Some of the most memorable bubbly I have ever had.

                                                                              1. re: tim irvine

                                                                                Yes, back in those days, Krug was less expensive than Louis Roederer Cristal ($17.95), which was less than Moët& Chandon's Cuvée Dom Pérignon, which was less than Comtes de Champagne by Taittinger ($19.10)

                                                                                1. re: zin1953

                                                                                  Is that Krug a vintage wine?

                                                                                  Amazing to see those prices, thank you, or maybe not! :-)

                                                                                  1. re: 4wino

                                                                                    I honestly don't remember -- can't remember everything! ;^) Logic tells me it must have been non-vintage, but then I remember everything being "1966," so . . .

                                                                            3. re: 4wino

                                                                              Gloria Ferret, that doesn't sound too appealing :)

                                                                              I agree with you, that while as Jason said everything has gone up, the NV Pierre Peters does seem to have taken a quick jump over the past 3-4 years.

                                                                              1. re: john gonzales

                                                                                I agree, as well. But -- alas! -- it's so damned good!

                                                                                1. re: john gonzales

                                                                                  Ha, that's a Gloria Ferrer with just a touch of venison. Very popular down south ;-)

                                                                            4. Was just saying to my husband the other day that Veuve isn't what it used to be. When ordering by the glass at a restaurant, it's still one of my go-to wines, mainly because its popularity means the bottle is likely to have been freshly opened. But for at-home drinking, I'm sort of over it.

                                                                              My favorites:

                                                                              Duval Leroy - A greatly undervalued Champagne, IMO. Great with sushi. The term "seaspray" comes to mind. Lots of minerality. Less $ than Veuve.

                                                                              Tattinger - Their Champagnes and California sparkling wines are both excellent. The entry-level Champagne is one of my favorites; it's clean and bracing and complex. It's slightly more expensive than VC, usually $50ish.

                                                                              Aubrey Brut - Excellent. This is a good one with food; has a lot going on.

                                                                              And Moet (their basic entry-level Champagne) is a good sub for Veuve, though not as interesting as others. It's easy-drinking and pretty likable.

                                                                              Good thread - cheers!

                                                                              1. What are some favorite sparkling wines/champagnes in the $15-$25 range?
                                                                                Any thoughts on Chandon? What about Mumm Napa?

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                  There is NO Champagne I can think of in the $15-$25 range, even on sale, so I'd forget the idea of getting any (true) Champagne -- unless you can find some sort of deal on close-out.

                                                                                  Chandon and Mumm Napa are both good quality California sparkling wines, but a) there are -- IMHO -- better sparkling wines produced in California, and b) there are better values in domestic sparklers than Chandon and Mumm Napa. Do not misunderstand: I wouldn't refuse a glass of the Brut or the Brut Rosé from *either* Chandon or Mumm Napa, but neither would be my first choice.

                                                                                  The finest domestic sparkling wine is, IMHO, Equinox, but it's also outside your price range. The best QPR in quality domestic sparklers remains Gruet.

                                                                                  Argyle, Roederer Estate, and Domaine Carneros are -- again, IMHO -- all better than Chandon and Mumm Napa, BUT they are also carry higher winery suggested retail prices. Gloria Ferrer is also quite good.

                                                                                  1. re: sparkareno

                                                                                    Try the Chateau Ste. Michelle from Washington State. Around $ 10 a bottle and compares well to anything from Cali.

                                                                                    1. re: vikingkaj

                                                                                      Without trying to pick nits, a) there is NO such thing as "Chateau Ste. Michelle Sparkling wine"; and b) their quality must have improved significantly since the last time I tasted it.

                                                                                      DOMAINE Ste. Michelle sparkling wines are produced in Paterson, Benton County, WA -- right near the Oregon border.

                                                                                      CHATEAU Ste. Michelle wines are produced in Woodinville, King County, WA -- north of Seattle.

                                                                                      Columbia Crest wines are also produced in Paterson.

                                                                                      All three have the same ownership.

                                                                                      1. re: zin1953

                                                                                        Domaine St. Michelle. And we're talking $ 10.99 a bottle retail. Gets an 86 from Wine Spectator. Drinkable and pleasant for the price. Compares well to the California sparkling wines at a lower price point.

                                                                                        1. re: vikingkaj

                                                                                          I'm pretty sure that's an American sparking wine (rather than from Champagne) but perhaps there's more than one? The OP is looking for NV Champagne.

                                                                                          1. re: JeremyEG

                                                                                            Yes, it's an American sparkling wine, not Champagne.

                                                                                            No, there is not more than one.

                                                                                            1. re: zin1953

                                                                                              To repeat, my recs for French non-vintage champagne are as follows:

                                                                                              "1) Mumm Cordon Rouge
                                                                                              2) Pommery Brut Royal
                                                                                              3) Taittinger La Francaise
                                                                                              4) Moet & Chandon White Star
                                                                                              5) Nicolas Feuillate Blue Label

                                                                                              All the above are readily accessible in the US market. There are also some great smaller labels which don't advertise but can be had reasonably in France that I didn't include.

                                                                                              Of the group, I really like Mumm's. It is dry without being too acid and has a really complex flavor profile. Also the Mumm's bottle is a classic, just love the way it looks. All the rest on the list are good too

                                                                                              I have never liked the Veuve, it has always been to acid for my stomach and I tend to drink champagne as an aperitif."

                                                                                              The domaine ste. michelle is a recommendation in the around $ 10 a bottle category for sparkling wine. There is not much that is worth drinking in that price range, and certainly nothing from France, that I have found in the NYC area. You can find some interesting cremants de Alsace for around $15, but for that money I would go to a Mumms Napa. Also, I am not a huge fan of Spanish cavas and proseccos.

                                                                                              My wife and I both like the blanc de noirs (pinot) as long as it stays dry (brut) in style.