In honor of Global Champagne Day, let me introduce you to the top champagne to pop to celebrate the occasion.
Champagne is the most recognized type of sparkling wine. And while all bubbly is sparkling wine, not all sparkling wine is champagne.
If the bottle you’re popping says “champagne” on it, it was made in Champagne, France. While it’s not a law, it is common practice (and the right thing to do) to only call a sparkling wine made in Champagne, France, champagne. There are a very few exceptions to this rule, but in general, the only, true champagne is that which comes from Champagne, France.
Too many people think that champagne should be saved for special occasions. And if you have been around here long enough, you know that we are so against that belief.
There is always a reason to celebrate and quite frankly when you embrace the everyday moments and celebrate them, you will find so many more moments deserving of celebration. We call this the Celebrate Effect!
So we understand you might want to save your best champagne, the $100+ bottle for something other than “I worked out today and rocked it!” but please, don’t wait too long. Put that date in your calendar, make it a priority, because if you put it off too long, you will be giving it away rather than enjoying it. Trust me on this one…the Tinkerbell plate saga taught me this (check out this blog if you have no clue what I’m talking about.)
And in the meantime, while you’re waiting for that date in your calendar, pop open a different bottle and celebrate the moment. After all, two celebrations are better than one!
Global Champagne Day
October 23rd is Global Champagne Day…sounds like a good day to celebrate, doesn’t it?
So, what is global champagne day also known as international champagne day? Well, it’s a day to talk about, appreciate and enjoy a bottle of the best champagne.
So grab yourself a bottle, pop that cork and let’s learn a little bit about champagne, shall we?
Champagne is made using the traditional method and primarily uses the three most common grapes you’ll find in bubbly: pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.
Method Champenoise – The Traditional Method
This method is a rather lengthy process but the wait is well worth the results. This method is not exclusive to champagne, wineries all around the world that use the Traditional Method to make their sparkling wines.
The Champagne Making Process
Harvest the grapes: When grapes are harvested for sparkling wine depends on the conditions of the environment that season. Typically sparkling wine grapes are harvested earlier in the season.The earlier harvest gives them lower sugar and higher acid levels than other grapes harvested later in the season. Once harvested they are pressed to extract the juice.
Fermentation: This is done the same way as any wine. If this bubbly is going to be a blend of grapes or a non-vintage bubbly, the other wines are added now.
Second Fermentation: The base wine, yeast and sugar are put into a bottle and sealed with a crown cap (same type of cap as a bottle of soda or beer). The bottle is stored on its side while second fermentation is underway.
Aging on Lees: The wine will age on the dead yeast cells (lees) for a period of time. This time period depends on the type of sparkling wine and ranges anywhere from months to 3+ years.
Riddling: Bottles are now placed on a special rack which has them tilted downward at about a 45 degree angle. It is then someone’s job to turn each of these bottles 1/4 quarter turn from several times a day to several times a week.
Fun Fact: this process used to have to be done one bottle at a time and now they make racks that you can rotate the entire rack 1/4 turn.
Now it’s quite heavy so you will need multiple people, but is a lot less time consuming than turning the individual bottles.
Disgorgement: This is the part where they will freeze the neck of the bottle in order to get rid of all the sediment that is sitting in the wine. Once the crown cap is “popped” (think of how you would use a bottle opener to open up a bottle of soda or beer), the sediment and maybe some wine comes out.
Dosage: Often times to replace the lost liquid, they will add dosage back to the bottle. This is a sugar mixture that determines the sweetness level of the bubbly.
Recorking: And then the bottle is re-corked and with a wire cage that is turned 3 full turns to secure.
Best Champagne Recommendations from the Experts
Now, you know I spend most of my time sharing sparkling wine and cava, so I turned to some experts to get their top champagne recommendations just for you.
Gina Lyons and her Top Champagne Picks
First, let me introduce you to Gina Lyons. I met Gina at the beginning of quarantine as she put together one of the first virtual tastings I attended. Gina is the blogger behind @champagnesquadofficial bringing the world of champagne to her followers in a fun and approachable way.
If you are wondering where to start with champagne, check out Gina’s list here…you’re bound to find a great one to try.
For the Savant
The name alone carries a reputation no champagne connoisseur can argue. This cuvée is the expression of a “family style” a fruit-rich and seductive 100% Pinot Meunier. Yes, you read that right- just shows you how unique and memorable the champagnes of Egly-Ouriet are. The estate is located in Ambonnay, and Francis Egly is its most renowned grower. His endless pursuit of the ripest fruit can only happen because of the quality in his vineyards.
If you have never had Egly-Ouriet Champagne before, you can compare them to Bollinger or Krug, big, powerful, full of depth, but with less make-up, lower dosage, and a purer expression of fruit.
For the Botanist
I may not believe in ‘clean wine’, but I do believe in Biodynamic Champagne, an exciting movement happening in the region. Tucked into the southeast corner of Champagne is the Aube, which over the past decade has emerged as a source for some of the region’s most distinctive and exciting champagnes. Many of today’s best growers from Aube were lead by Bertrand Gautherot, the man behind Vouette et Sorbee. Gautherot’s estate is named after his two primary vineyards: Vouette and Sorbée .
Blanc d’Argile is 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature, with no dosage (no added sugar). Mineral, nutty, salty and long – basically a Grand Cru Chablis with bubbles.
For the Epicurean
You will see Champagne Frerejean Frères countlessly on my Instagram because I absolutely love this house, the family AND the champagnes. I also like the fact that it is small, boutique and harder to find. After all, you can only get this cuvée from one wine store in New York, Acker Wines. Cousins of the Taittinger Champagne Family, Rodolphe Frerejean Taittinger and his two brothers run this luxury style, Michelin Star Gastronomy partner Champagne House based in the Grand Cru Village of Avize. The Cuvée des Hussards is named after the light cavalry of Napoléon Bonaparte, in which the soldiers were the first to use the art of sabring.
It is powerful and expressive. It is 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Noir coming from Premier and Grand Cru vineyards older than 40 years old. For vintage Champagne lovers, 2012 is regarded as the vintage of reference of the last decade, and this is a bottle to get your hands on!
For the Value Seeker
Marie Corpinet’s NV Brut is my pick for Best Value. If you are going to be opening several bottles on Global Champagne Day, but don’t want to sacrifice quality in your quantity, this classic example of a NV Blend 1/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir, 1/3 Pinot Meunier is a perfect choice. Located in the Marne Valley, in the tiny village of Montgenost, the estate is run by Marie herself, along with her husband and cellar master Alexandre. No herbicides or pesticides are used. The estate is certified by Terre Vitis.
This wine has a deep ripe cherry, nutty, honey, with refreshing citrus and chalky aromas. It’s full-bodied and complex on the palate, allowing this to drink much more expensive than it actually is. To learn more about this house and cuvée, you can actually join my IG Live on @champagnesquadofficial on October 21st at 5pm EST as I speak with the house and drink this cuvée!
For the Bon Vivant
Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Brut is not only an iconic champagne and should be on every bubbly lover’s “Champagnes to drink before you die”, the bottle screams special occasion! The bottle is adorned with the legendary spray of Japanese white anemones created by Emile Gallé in 1902, and the one I have even lights up, a perfect touch to celebrating Global Champagne Day.
This is Perrier Jouet’s Prestige Cuvée, only produced in the very best vintages, mainly blended with equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This is an exclusive champagne, aged for 6 years before release, and less than 30 vintages ever produced.
For the Virtuoso
I’m going to let you in on a little secret of champagne… their Ratafia! This is not a bubbly champagne- it is a sweet fortified red or white wine with 18% ABV and made from champagne grapes. If I were to choose one Ratafia for you to drink this holiday, it is Champagne Geoffroy’s.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Jean-Baptist Geoffroy who runs the house, and he took me on a little tour of the estate. On the roof of the estate, you can find his ratafia beautifully displayed in large bistro glass vases. The Fine de Champagne is distilled in an artisanal still to 60% ABV and then aged for 8 months in oak barrels before being blended with pinot noir and meunier from the press of the Rosé de Saignée.
Good news…if you don’t want to start this champagne journey alone, Gina has most recently co-founded A Vine Affair, a bespoke wine and culinary experience company that provides small intimate affairs, virtual tasting and corporate wine events and has a special offer just for you.
In honor of Global Champagne Day 2020, A Vine Affair is offering their Champagne 101 private tastings for $20 per person (plus your chosen champagnes). Let Gina, and her Co-Founder, Alex Ojeda, introduce you to the world of Champagne in a personalized champagne tasting.
Fill out the form and in the comments section write “Champagne 101”. Please Note: Tastings must be reserved by October 24th in order to receive offer.
Carolyn Holt and her Top Champagne Picks
Carolyn and I met on Instagram many months ago and bonded over things like being former teachers and that fact that she’s opening up a Pop Culture themed Champagne Bar! Go give her a follow and so that you can know the exact date of its opening in the Spring of 2021…especially if you’re in the Seattle area or are like me and will travel for bubbly.
Here are Carolyn’s very fun top champagne picks (in no particular order):
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé ~ I have been a Billecart fan for years. There is something about this rosé that just makes me beyond happy. It has a gorgeous mouthfeel, and oh so fresh! Well-balanced light strawberry on the palate with notes of pink lady apple. Sip Sip Hooray!
Gaston Chiquet Premier Cru Brut Rosé ~ It’s very clear I am a HUGE fan of rosé champagne. I just love all the feels of a rosé champagne. This one again understands me and my bubbly needs. Smuckers strawberry jam with layers of spice and limestone. With it’s salmon-cooper hue, this wine is ripe with such perfect acidity. It pairs perfectly with almost every meal. It’s mostly Pinot Meunier but the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir round out it’s elegance. This is definitely a party champagne.
Champagne Wafflart-Antoniolli Rosé ~ An off the beaten path champagne that many people don’t know about. A blend of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, this wine has explosive flavors of strawberry and cherry, But the Pinot Meunier brings so much richness to this Champagne. Sip Me Baby One More Time!
Pol Roger Reserve Brut NV ~ An oldie but goodie…this wine never disappoints. It’s consistent, well-balanced and attractive. You get that meyer lemon on the front, but it melts away into a fresh red apple and peach. This is a crowd pleaser if there ever was one… Pop It Like It’s Hot!
Pierre Paillard Les Maillerettes Bouzy Grand Cru Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut ~ It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from Pierre Paillard. I just love the acidity and minerality his wines bring to the table. However, I am a sucker for a Blanc de Noirs. I find these wines a spectacular blend of minerality, floral notes and a hint of raspberry. This one in particular just gets me 🙂
My extra pick is Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Special Club Grands Terroirs de Chardonnay 2012 ~ This wine is a beautiful blend of grapefruit, lemon and peach.Its silky and chalky all at the same time. One of the most elegant wine’s I have ever tasted. Dieder Gimonnet considers the 2012 one of the greatest vintages and I don’t argue with him. It’s a serious wine for serious champagne drinkers. I have only tried it once in my life, but dream of it often. If you have the ability to grab this wine, I highly recommend it. You are going to want to back that glass up!
Does Champagne Have to Cost A Lot?
And let’s wrap up with a question most people are concerned about when it comes to champagne. Many people believe that the best champagne has to be expensive. And that’s actually not the case at all. The price range of champagne may seem quite large. You certainly can treat yourself to an expensive bottle of the very top champagne that ranges anywhere from $100-$10,000. Additionally there is quite the selection under $40 per bottle and everything in between.
Go visit a local wine shop and chat with them. They are a great resource to find for you the best champagne for any price range.