Despite what the sceptics say, and Covid or not, I think it’s time to embrace 2022 and spread love, joy, and happiness as we go. Where does all that start? With bubbles! True, it’s been a daunting and uncertain year and granted, we’ve not felt the need to celebrate as much because of it.
But ultimately, what we’ve got left — each other — will always be worth something. So here you have it: my top picks for the Champagnes to cheer in the new year. Raise a glass to those around you; we made it.
Veuve Monsigny Brut
Every year Aldi knock it out the park with their own-brand champagne. Frequently mentioned on my Bring a Bottle podcast as a bang-for-buck bottle of bubbles, this has become known as the go-to champagne of Christmas at our local, and I don’t question that for a second. Philzot & Fils is the house behind this blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. If you’re a fan of zippy, bright, and refreshing, this one’s for you. Always popular, given the price, grab them while you can.
Pommery Brut Rosé
This comforting bubbly is bursting with red berries and meadow fruits, full of life and energy and the perfect sip of excitement to count in the New Year. Think strawberry, raspberry, peach, and sweet red cherry — all the things that make your mouth water.
Taittinger Nocturne Sec NV
We often consider champagne as something to sip solo or before a meal. And while I love a sweet still wine after a triumphant feast, Sec champagnes are literally begging to be paired with your puds? Whether it’s leftover Christmas cake or chocolate yule log, the white blossom, baked peaches, and creamy smooth sweetness of this from Tattinger work absolute wonders. So, if you tend to nay-say sweet still wines because you find them too cloying, say hello to your new best friend.
Billecart Salmon Rose Brut
Every time I see that little Billecart squiggle of a logo I’m filled with confidence. A sublime blend of the traditional trio of Champagne grapes, with Chardonnay representing 40 per cent of that, taken from some of the best Crus in the region. After being aged on lees for 36 months, you can expect to encounter a seductive zesty and red berry nose with a rich raspberry and strawberry cream upon taste. Fresh, yet full of finesse. Rather how I see myself...
£57, Wanderlust Wine
Rare MilleÌsime 2006
I’m going to put this out there: this is quite possibly one of the most expressive Champagnes I’ve ever tasted. Mango, white chocolate, and jasmine tea jump out on the nose with an explosive richness on the palate. Just as you think it’s over, the finish hits you —dried apricots, sweet spices, and cocoa. I’m not quite sure how they do it, but I guess that’s why they call it rare. The bottle looks bloody stunning too.
£169, N.D. John Wines
The Queen (or King, or non-binary sovereign) of Champagne, depending on how you want to look at it, Cristal has consistently charmed the world for generations, so much so that it sits atop the list of the recently launched Vivino Community Awards. A list chosen by more than 56 million wine lovers from across the planet who all use the Vivino app, it seems a worthwhile endorsement.
The 2013 vintage could be the best in 20 years as far as I’m concerned. Chalky, pure and textured, there’s a burst of plump meadow fruits with a biscuity brioche and elegant finesse on the finish. We also see a slight saline note, never witnessed in a prior release. I imagine this vintage will not stick around for long: either drink it now or age this wonder, if you can be so patient.
£224, The Finest Bubble
Charles Heidsieck MilleÌsime 1995
If you’re wanting to truly celebrate in style, how about a 26-year-old fizz? The oldest on my list by far, this champagne offers a glimpse into what happens when you sit your fizz and let it age with grace. This elegant cuvée is a blend of pure Chardonnay, deriving from some of the most renowned Crus in Champagne. After maturing for more than 15 years in the heart of the house’s 2000-year-old chalk cellars, it works wonders in the glass and makes for a truly beautiful experience. The rich golden hue offers lashings of baked pineapple, fragrant tea and burnt peach tart on the nose. Then comes the palate, buttery French toast with vanilla sugar, a creamy apricot yogurt and a slice of pear frangipane to finish things off. One for those who like a little “go big or go home” in their glass.
£256, The Finest Bubble