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Great Special Occasion Champagne


Mulcahy
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My husband and I are budding (read: we still know nothing) oneophiles.

His birthday is approaching and I would like to buy a special bottle of champagne for the occasion.

We have had at one point or another:

Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label

Dom Perignon

And others, none of which come to mind right now, and none super-spectacular.

I would like not to repeat either the Veuve or the Dom.

I can't stomach the thought of spending more than $200. Less I can probably live with.

I had considered Krug Grand Cuvee. You should also know that we have really enjoyed rose champagnes in the past.

Any help is greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

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If you liked Veuve's yellow label, try their Gold Label Reserve. The 1996 should be readily available in the $50-60USD range. It's a little young, but still a good drink. I had it at Christmas and enjoyed it.

The 1995 Veuve La Grande Dame is a little more expensive at $80-90USD, but also a good drink.

Bollinger's '96 Grand Annee is in the same price range as the Veuve Gold Label Reserve, and is of good quality too.

You mentioned Rose Champagne ... Veuve makes a Vintage Reserve, the current release is the 1996. It's also in the $50-60 range.

Hope this helps.

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There is no reason to spend more than $200. The Krug Grande Cuvee you mentioned would be an excellent choice, and you can find it for about $100. The '88 Vintage Brut is avaialable for about $150 if you want to go a little higher. The Krug NV Brut Rose is about $200 if you're really feeling frisky. Look at Wine-Searcher.com if you want additional pricing/retailer info.

Cheers,

Tim

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For a great rosé, look for Billecart-Salmon's Cuvée Elizabeth Salmon, their top rosé produced only in exceptional years. The 1997 is on the market now for between $80-100, and the 1995, while rarer and more expensive, will still get you a mind-blowing bubbly from a sought-after vintage.

Kriss Reed

Long Beach, CA

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At the risk of sounding like a total moron, can these be had with food (in other words if I take the bottle to his birthday dinner is the food going to ruin the champagne)? :blink:

Otherwise I would open the champagne pre or post dinner.

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Champagne is one of the best and most versatile "food" wines there is and IMO way underutilized in this respect. While I wouldn't necessarily use a top-notch sparkler for this purpose, they tend to be excellent with spicy and rich foods. One of my personal favorites is Taittinger's Comte de Champagne. It is generally priced around V-C's Grande Dame (another personal favorite).

Wish your husband a Happy Birthday for me!

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Wish your husband a Happy Birthday for me!

Thanks, I will! It's not until June, but I need to budget/spread any purchases out, which is why I am asking now.

(Looking forward to Saratoga. :biggrin: )

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Champagne is one of the best and most versatile "food" wines there is and IMO way underutilized in this respect. While I wouldn't necessarily use a top-notch sparkler for this purpose, they tend to be excellent with spicy and rich foods.

Huh? Why not use a top notch sparkler for pairing with any food? This seems to be what it is best suited for IMO. I'm assuming you drink top notch still wine with food.

Mulcahy, you have some great choices here. If you need any help narrowing it down, what did you like and/or not like about the VC Yellow Label and the Dom? All the wines suggested so far would be great for your purpose, but if there's a style you prefer that might help zero in on a recommendation. Without that, I'd look to Krug Grand Cuvee or (for rose ) Billecar-Salmon Elisabeth.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Champagne is one of the best and most versatile "food" wines there is and IMO way underutilized in this respect. While I wouldn't necessarily use a top-notch sparkler for this purpose, they tend to be excellent with spicy and rich foods.

Huh? Why not use a top notch sparkler for pairing with any food? This seems to be what it is best suited for IMO. I'm assuming you drink top notch still wine with food.

Why not indeed. I think expensive champagnes are wonderful and generally better than lesser priced sparklers, primarily because of the subtle nuances they possess and would be so with most food pairings. IMO these nuances are less pronounced with spicier foods and thus the expense is not as easily justified. This argument doesn't really apply to rich foods, and so I apologize for being unclear in this regard with my original post. Of course, if I was given a glass of Kristal with my spicy Thai curry, I wouldn't turn it down :laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Mulcahy, you have some great choices here. If you need any help narrowing it down, what did you like and/or not like about the VC Yellow Label and the Dom?

Yellow Label is my standard "oops I forgot your birthday and you are a close enough friend that I should have remembered" champagne or the "you planned a really elaborate meal for me and I couldn't even come close to matching a wine to the food so this is for you" champagne. It's nice. But that's the only word that really comes to mind when I describe it.

Dom was my mother's favorite champagne and so I am fond of it for that reason alone. Truthfully I found Dom too dry for my tastes (but it has been two years since I had any).

I had a Chandon rose last year in Napa on the terrace at Chandon which I loved and paired very well with the food. I think it was called Etoile. It was, if I recall correctly, softer than either the Veuve or Dom which both my husband and I enjoyed.

I believe that the champagnes I have generally preferred have been blanc de noirs.

Is any of the above of any assistance?

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I'll second the recommendations for Bollinger Grand Anée and Billecart-Salmon Rosé. I don't know too much about Champagne, but those are two of my favorites.

And yes, Champagne can be wonderful with food. I particularly like it with seafood. A good Champagne would be lovely with seared scallops and some pan drippings. Toss in some concassé tomato and the rosé would be perfect.

"Enjoy every sandwich."

Warren Zevon, 10/30/02

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I had a Chandon rose last year in Napa on the terrace at Chandon which I loved and paired very well with the food. I think it was called Etoile. It was, if I recall correctly, softer than either the Veuve or Dom which both my husband and I enjoyed.

I believe that the champagnes I have generally preferred have been blanc de noirs.

Is any of the above of any assistance?

A couple of reactions here. The wines I've had from Chandon have tended to come across as "sweeter" than the sparkling wines I've had from Champagne. That's one person's opinion. But what I think you are describing is a creaminess, which is usually a texture of the mousse kind of thing, but could have a bit to do with the base wine.

I think I style you might particularly like is Vilmart's Cuvee Rubis, a rose wine that will be well within your budget. Also the Jacquesson Signature Rose. The Billecart-Salmon Elisabeth will be more elegant than either of those, but the other two have something to offer.

And if you want to go Blanc de Noirs, Bollinger is usually pretty pinot noir intensive, and you can't go wrong with the Grand Annee. But if you can find a Bollinger R.D., I think you'd really find that to be special. I don't know what vintage of R.D. is currently available. R.D., by the way, means "recently disgorged." It will be an older vintage wine that has been released later than when the Grand Annee was first released. All of Krug's vintage wines, for example, are R.D. wines, even if not labeled as such.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Brad,

I believe the current Bolly R.D. is the 1990. Be careful with this wine, however. I've heard reports that the recent release this past November of these bottles resulted in many that were cooked. The three bottles of the 1990 R.D. that I had over the past 12 months were all from the 2002 allocation, which were all stellar.

If you do find an R.D., check the date is was disgorged on the back label. If it says 2002, you should be fine, assuming storage is not an issue.

It needs about 20-25 minutes of air time after uncorking to come into its own.

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If you don't mind spending 150 bucks or so, my choice would undoubtedly be the Krug brut 1988. Acker Merrall has it in stock. I had a bottle a few weeks ago and it was stunning - perhaps the best Champagne I've ever had.

I don't put that much value in wine press ratings, but for what it's worth, this vintage scored 98 points in the most recent Wine Spectator rating, one point below the '88 Krug Clos de Mesnil (around $400 if you can find a bottle). For around 100 bucks you can get Krug's Grand Cuvee, which others here have recommended. In my opinion Krug tough is to beat, as they are fanatics for quality control.

I also had a bottle of Dom Perignon 1996 on Sunday, and it was drinking very well. Not sure if this is readily available or the current price though.

Edited by Felonius (log)
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If you want to spend that much money on a bottle of Champagne, my personal favourite house is Salon. I've had the '82, '88, '90, and '95 and they were all stellar, with the '95 being the least complex. The '90 is available in the $150-170 range and it is outstanding.

I can't wait to open my only bottle of '85 in a few weeks.

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