Within the wonderful world of champagnes, there are the beautifully presented and expensive prestige cuvees that make great gifts.
There are also the vintage champagnes with collector appeal that have to be cellared for at least a decade before they are ready to be savoured. So it may well surprise you that the best value wines of any kind are so-called ‘ordinary’ champagnes.
I am referring to the non-vintage or NV champagne. Without any vintage and produced yearly, it offers the drinker immediate and immense pleasure. The quality of the wine is rarely called into question. This is because each year, only the healthiest and best grapes are selected, and harvested at the optimum ripeness for the style. Should the quality fall short, the champagne house will blend out any inconsistencies, often by drawing from a stock of high quality reserve wines. Such is the nature of champagne—a consistent, quality wine compared to other wines that are subject to vintage variations. A point worth noting is that some non-vintage champagnes could even be grand crus. For instance, a NV Krug is a truly exceptional wine that you might overlook simply because it is not a vintage; but there are collectors of this wine, hence its lofty price.
One of the best things about NV champagne is that most of it is priced around the $100 mark. Some are priced lower, and indeed, some do run up to more than twice the amount. But most NV champagnes ensure that your pocket remains healthy no matter how big a celebration you host and toast at the end of the year. Certainly, if you come across famous brands such as Veuve Clicquot, Mumm, Moet and Perrier Jouet, the NV wines are worth a drink. Even the most seasoned champagne drinker will not think twice on toasting with them.
Here are some of my favourite NV champagnes.
|Henriot, Blanc Souverain NV
This seventh generation producer produces a rich and creamy finished wine with butter, peach, pear flavours and lightly toasted notes.
Available at $108 at 1855 Bottle Shop.
Tasting notes: rich and creamy
|Veuve Fourny, Reserve Brut 1er Cru NV
Organic grapes and careful winemaking preserve the terroir of the vineyard, giving us a wine with fine mousse and lemon zest flavours with an attractive honeyed overtone.
Available at $85 online at The Oaks Cellars Pte Ltd .
Tasting notes: fine mouse and lemon zest flavours
|Henri Billiot, Brut Reserve NV
A grower who blends pinot noir and wine from older vintages to achieve a complex off-dry wine with overtones of caramelised nuts, chocolate, pink grapefruit and peach.
Available from $78 at Artisan Cellars.
Tasting notes: complex off-dry
|Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV
A lovely intense wine that’s brimming with apples and nuts, grapefruit and toast, vanilla and peppers.
Available at $105.00 at Vintage Fine Wines.
Tel: +65 6801 4012
Tasting notes: intensely lovely
|Egly-Ouriet, Grand Cru Extra Brut VP
Vieillissement Prolongé (VP), or prolonged ageing on lees, endows this lemony, bone-dry wine with a certain intensity and complexity, with buttered blackberries, apricots and nuts in the finish.
Available at $129.50 at Redmart.
Tasting notes: complex and intense
|Paul Dethune, Blanc de Noirs, Grand Cru
You get honey, nougat, lemon peel, ginger blossom and a long apple-like finish here.
This wine is all that a fine champagne should be with light, dry, high acids, mineral sensations and a long finish.
Available at $110 on Australian retailer The Wine Emporium, not inclusive of international shipping
Tasting notes: mineral sensations and a long finish
|Pierre Peters, Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru NV
Fancy something spicy with florals, fruit and touch of honey and yeast? This is it. Clean, austere but complex.
Available at $75.05 at Cru World Wine.
Tasting notes: clean, austere but complex
|Joseph Perrier, Cuvee Royale Demi Sec
Demi-sec champagnes are natural cohorts with spicy cuisine.
Floral, nutty with honey, brioche and a hint of shiitake, this wine is also intense on the palate with ripe fruit, yellow plum, mango, pomelo, mandarin and orange. Medium-bodied, lively and light-footed.
Tasting notes: natural cohorts with spicy cuisines
|Taittinger Brut Reserve
The signature house style boasts a complex blend of biscuits, brioche, strudel and walnut and pear flavours. It’s lightbodied with good balance and length.
Available at $72.90 at Redmart.
Tasting notes: light bodied with good balance and length
|Charles de Cazanove, Vielle France Blanc de Noirs NV
Nutty with gunflint, grass, grapefruit and buttered toast. The product of pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes.
Available at $84.90 at Le Rouge Pte Ltd.
#01-25 Chevron House, 30 Raffles Place.Tel: 6532 7992
Tasting notes: nutty with gunflint
This was first published in Wine & Dine’s December 2017 issue – The Festive Issue ‘Wine Guru’.