Best Champagne Wine

The sparkling wine Champagne is named after the northern region of France where it’s produced. Other regions of France, as well as other countries, make sparkling wine, but only those from Champagne may be called Champagne.

Supposedly the eighteenth-century blind Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, accidentally discovered how to put the bubbles in Champagne when his wines started fermenting again in the spring after the cold winter had stopped them. Other records attribute this discovery to the British scientist Christopher Merret thirty years before Pérignon.

Pérignon is credited widely with improving the techniques of blending wines from different years as well as the three principle grapes used: the white grape Chardonnay and two red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

My reviews of these best value Champagne wines are updated weekly. These Champagne wines offer great taste at a good price. You can also get my top rated Champagne wines with scores of 90 or higher points. You'll find a definition of Champagne at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings for Champagne in my wine matcher. This is just a sampling of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.

Georges Gardet Champagne
A.C., Champagne, France
Vintages Wine Panel: For Champagne of this quality, this is a terrific value. This release will be from a more recent lot than the review below, but Gardet crafts a consistent house style. My note: A toasty great bubbly with white peach and green apple and freshly baked bread. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Favourite Sparkling Wine  Price: $39.95 Score: 90/100

This Champagne was reviewed December 5, 2009 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 924654  Check Stock
BC: 589788  Check Stock
 

Deutz Champagne Classic Brut 2004
A.C. Champagne, France
A toasty, generous bubbly with notes of baked bread, green apples and orange peel. Champagne Classic Brut food pairings: Chinese dishes, caviar, oysters, smoked salmon. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Favorite Sparkling  Price: $57.95 Score: 92/100

This Champagne Classic Brut was reviewed November 8, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 710038  Check Stock
BC: 56358  Check Stock
 

Lanson Brut Rosé Champagne Rose Label
Ac, Champagne, France
A vibrant wine with aromas of strawberries and toast. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Price: $54.95 Score: 90/100

This Lanson Brut Rosé Champagne Rose Label was reviewed July 7, 2007 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 172130  Check Stock
 

Charles Heidsieck Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier Chardonnay Champagne Brut Reserve
A.C., France
A vibrant and refreshing bubbly with aromas of toasty oak, white flowers and citrus. Great balance, delicacy and finish. Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier Chardonnay Champagne Brut Reserve food pairings: spinach souffle, onion rings, seafood risotto, oysters, Thai dishes. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2008‐2012  Price: $59.95 Score: 94/100

This Pinot Noir Pinot Meunier Chardonnay Champagne Brut Reserve was reviewed December 6, 2008 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 36962  186 in stock
BC: 31286  544 in stock
SAQ: 11450533  Check Stock
 

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne
Champagne, France
Toasty and tasty with a consistent quality each year. Alcohol: 12%  Sweetness: Extra Dry  750 ml  Drink: 2012‐2015  Price: $43.05 Score: 90/100

This wine was reviewed November 20, 2012 by Natalie MacLean

LCBO: 537605  Check Stock
BC: 80283  Check Stock
SAQ: 578187  Check Stock
 


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Champagne

The process today still involves a first fermentation to make the still, acidic wine. Then, before bottling, a small amount of wine, sugar and yeast is added (“liqueur de triage”) to trigger a second fermentation in the bottle, where the carbon dioxide bubbles are trapped. The bottle is gradually tilted upside down (riddling), by hand or machine, and eventually the dead yeast cells gather in the neck and are disgorged so that the wine is clear. Before the final cork seal is affixed, the wine is topped up with a small amount of wine and sugar (liqueur d'expédition). The amount of sugar determines whether the bubbly will be Brut (very dry), Sec (off-dry) or Demi-Sec (medium-sweet).

Rosé bubbly is made either by blending red and white wine or by limiting the skin contact of the red grapes during maceration, when the grapes soak in their own juice before fermentation.

Blanc de blancs Champagne is made only from Chardonnay while blanc de noirs is only from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The grapes for vintage Champagne that show a year on the label, were harvested from one year only, while non-vintage Champagne are grapes and wines blended from many years. While Vintage Champagnes age well, non-vintage bubblies are meant to be consumed within a year or two of purchase while they still have their fruit freshness. Many producers outside of the Champagne region use this process and grapes to make their bubbly and often put méthode traditionnelle on their label.

The words Champagne and méthode champenoise may not legally be used by producers except those from Champagne itself.

Bubblies made in Burgundy, France, are called Crémants de Bourgogne while those from Alsace are Crémant d'Alsace. Spain makes Cavas (“cave”), Italy makes either Prosecco (lightly sparkling) or Spumante (fully sparkling and sweet), Germany makes Sekt or Deutscher and those from New World regions, such as Canada, California, Australia and elsewhere, are simply called sparkling wine.

Some bubblies outside of Champagne are made from a cheaper and quicker carbonation process, during which bubbles are injected into the tanks of fermenting wines. This method doesn’t create wines with the same refinement and nuance as the Champagne method. The bubbles tend to go flat quickly.

Drink bubbly from a flute glass that preserves its bubbles and concentrates its aromas. (Forget those old coupe glasses molded to the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breasts.)

Signature bubbly aromas include toast, yeast, fresh-baked bread, green apple, lemon, lime and orange zest.

Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile wines with food because of its zesty fruit aromas, mouth-watering acidity and palate-cleaning bubbles.

Pair dry styles with spring rolls, almonds, canapés, brioche bread, cheeses, poultry, sashimi, Thai coconut shrimp, pasta with cheese-based sauce, caviar, shellfish, seafood risotto, snack foods, onion rings, egg dishes, avocado salad, guacamole, pâté, pasta, charcuterie, veal, salads and vegetarian casseroles.

Sweet bubbly (doux or spumante) goes well with curries, fruit flans, cobblers, biscotti, nuts, soft cheeses, Christmas pudding, lemon soufflé, mille feuilles, pavlova and tiramisu.