6 of the Best: Sparkling Wines to Drink This ChristmasBy Iona Goulder
We’ve roped in our friend Dawn Davies MW, head buyer at fine wine and spirits retailer, The Whisky Exchange, for her top sparkling wine picks to sip this Christmas and New Year. Glassware at the ready:
The Lowdown: Lelarge-Pugeot is a grower that has been based in Vrigny, in the Montagne de Reims, since 1789 and today it is the seventh generation who work the land. They work biodynamically and organically with minimal intervention, and only ever work with Chardonnay.
Dawn Davies MW: “Chardonnay-based Champagnes are fabulous as an aperitif as Blanc de Blancs often have a beautiful elegance to them. Lelarge Pugeot achieve a really good concentration out of their grapes so are also a delightful accompaniment to your shellfish platter that you might be serving on Christmas day.”
Price: £36.75 – £56.95
The Lowdown: Champagne Telmont is a relatively new kid on the Champagne block. They are very much about sustainability with 72% of their land being either organic or in conversion and the goal is to have 100% of the land certified by the end of this year. They are also being very transparent in their labelling which we 100% applaud.
Dawn Davies MW: “It is always good to see producers being very transparent about what they do and Telmont has really put it out there with all the information about disgorgement date, dosage, selection of reserve wines and so much more on their front label. All of this whilst embracing sustainable cultivation, this deserves a standing ovation.”
Price: £44.95 – £55.95
The Lowdown: Veuve Fourny own vineyards in the highly regarded premier cru of Vertus, and they patiently wait for the best maturity of their grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, in order to reach a balance between ripeness and freshness. Grapes are harvested by hand, separately for each plot, and then delicately pressed.
Dawn Davies MW: “Veuve Fourny always delivers great value for money, whether it is their standard Cuvee or their vintage. This the perfect gift to bring along to celebrate the season ahead that won’t break the bank but will make you look amazing.”
Price: £34.75 – £53.45
The Lowdown: Jérôme Dehours has 14 hectares in the Vallée de la Marne where he heroes Pinot Meunier, a varietal that is often seen as the poor cousin to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but creates delightful fruit wines.
Dawn Davies MW: “This champagne is full of character and lovely ripe concentrated fruit. Because it has such depth of flavour it makes it perfect as an accompaniment to many foods including the lighter game birds that are in season at the moment”
Price: £41.75 – £44.95
The Lowdown: Jacques Lassaigne is making a name for himself among the winemakers of Champagne. He uses a greater proportion of reserve wines in his cuvées and uses very low levels of sulphur and only at the press. This gives a delicate bubble and linear almost-chalky Chablis quality to the palate.
Dawn Davies MW: “Jacques Lassaigne is first and foremost a great wine and then a great Champagne. With this chalky linear character, it is the perfect champagne to pair with fresh oysters this holiday season.”
The Lowdown: Since 1785, grapes have played an essential part in the Vadin family. Located in Cumières, this artisan Champagne “grower” produces several wines from their 7 hectares of 1er Cru vines, which are dispersed over 7 different villages but from an astounding 100 different plots. The dynamic Yann Vadin stands at the helm, making him the 9th generation. This Champagne comes from a small parcel of old vines that is farmed organically.
Dawn Davies MW: “The wines from Vadin-Plateau need time in the glass to open up so throw away those coupes and Champagne flutes and serve this in a wine glass to get the best out of your champagne.”