The UK and US are the two largest export markets for champagne. But, instead of choosing the typical go-to’s this season, why not explore some new and unexpected options? Quintessentially Wine’s Founder and Buyer Matthew Jukes weighs in, as do Caitlin McConnell and Ashley Santoro, the proprietors of our new favourite (and prettiest) wine shop in downtown Manhattan, Leisir.
Val Frison, Cuvée P... NV, £60
The Cuvée P... is a new release from Valerie Frison, who “definitely has a cult following,” say Caitlin and Ashley. She makes limited quantities of her three cuvées, which all represent the individuality of her terroir and winemaking. The Cuvée P... is everything you could ask for in a champagne to enjoy during the colder months and on your holiday table. While there’s an extraordinary richness to the wine, the weight is backed by fantastic acidity and structure.
Champagne Grande Charte: GC-5 Collection
£3,700 to become a member of the Collector’s Club, which means 16 bottles hand-delivered each year
Fully sustainable, this organic (and often biodynamic) champagne house is quite new. This particular blend, harvested in 2011 and bottled in 2012, has a fresh mix of Meunier, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes. A smoky, mineral edge gives way to a lasting bone dry palate, imparting the flavour of rich, toasted brioche, alongside delicate red fruits.
Ayala Extra Age Champagne, £32
Aged longer than any other non-vintage champagne (31 months on average), this is a “supremely rich, round, smooth, and frankly, delectable champagne,” says Matthew. “It has notes of brioche on the nose, with a lovely Bramley apple and citrus peel fruit flavour in the mouth—this is a wonderfully complex champagne.”
Moussé Fils, Les Vignes de Mon Village NV, £50
“We’ve been obsessed with the wines of Moussé over the years—they’ve long been dedicated to organic farming and working with Pinot Meunier, a grape that doesn’t often get the love that it deserves,” say Caitlin and Ashley. The Les Vignes de Mon is 100% Pinot Meunier with explosive minerality, red apple, and herbaceous notes.
Palmer & Co Brut Reserve Champagne, £29
The winner of a prestigious Gold Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards, the quality of this champagne far surpasses its modest price tag. It has a nose of fine red fruit with hints of toast and lime, and a lovely creamy mousse with earthy notes of truffle, spices, and saffron. The long, harmonious finish has an elegant nutty flavour.
Tarlant Zero Brut Rosé NV, £45
This is a year-round favourite! The Zero Brut Rosé is incredibly dry, crisp and fresh—elements that aren’t always associated with rosé champagne. One step away from being biodynamic, this champagne is uniquely made without any additional sugar. Made from 100% chardonnay grapes, this is perfect at the start to a meal; think of “pairing it with seafood, shellfish, and charcuterie,” recommend Ashley and Caitlin.
For more advice on which special bottle to pop at midnight, seek the expert advice of Quintessentially Wines