Chances are, given the season, you’re drinking more Champagne than usual. And with one of the biggest Champagne occasions of them all right around the corner, we’ve found ourselves not only re-stocking our own supplies but reflecting on a year chock full of delicious Champagne offers. In addition to myself, the SommSelect team includes another Champagne fanatic—staff writer and sommelier Mark Osburn—and together we sifted through 2018’s many sumptuous sparklers to compile a list of our favorites, arranged by style. No doubt some of these wines will be familiar, if not in your possession and poised to be uncorked. Hopefully you were able to try a few—if not, commit these names to memory and prepare yourself for lots of exciting new offers in 2019! If you do not currently receive our email offers, sign up for free below.

Brut Nature (No Added Sugar)

Tarlant, Brut Nature, “Cuvée Louis”
Classic 12th-generation family in the Vallée de la Marne. Equal parts old-vine Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from a single vineyard. It has aged nearly two decades and showcases the finest aromas of mature, high-end Champagne.

 

André Beaufort
One of Champagne’s very first Certified Organic estates. Mostly Pinot Noir from the 2009 vintage, this wine was barrel fermented and saw seven years of bottle aging before disgorgement. Clean, dynamic, savory—a real treat!

 

Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir/Meunier)

Roses de Jeanne (Cédric Bouchard), “Côte de Val Vilaine”
One of Champagne’s newest “culty” names that is focused on microproduction wines that highlight individual grape and terroir expression. 100% single-vineyard Pinot Noir that never sees a dosage. Vinous, broad, Burgundian. A true sensation.

 

Benoît Déhu, “La Rue des Noyers”
Another recent addition to the brilliant new wave of grower-producers. 100% Meunier from Vallée de la Marne. Biodynamic, barrel-aged wines that channel mineral power and refinement. It manages to capture the pure essence of the seriously underrepresented Meunier grape.

 

Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay)

Pierre Gimonnet, “Cuvée Gastronome”
One of the region’s most respected ‘grower-producers.’ A wine that was built for, you guessed it: gastronomy. Bottled at lower pressure and topped of with a moderate dosage so it drinks like a creamy, pillowy soft Chardonnay—but from towering Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages.

 

P. Lancelot-Royer, Millésime 2008
Always one of the finest values on the market: This bottle hails from 2008—one of the greatest vintages of modern time—and is sourced entirely from the Grand Cru village of Cramant. Opulent, focused, and always accompanied with an elegant touch.

 

Rosé

Henriet-Bazin, Grand Cru Brut
A new find for us—and one I hope we can offer until the end of time. Amazing price-to-quality here: Single vintage (2013) and entirely sourced from two prominent Grand Crus. It’s a deeply colored rosé that is equally deep in flavor. Hard to beat this value.

 

Guy Larmandier, Vertus Premier Cru
This classic independent grower produces a laser-sharp rosé from one of my favorite Premier Crus: Vertus—located at the southern tip of Côte de Blancs’ string of Grand Crus. Mostly Chardonnay with a splash of Pinot Noir, this has refined berry fruit that surges with minerality!

 

Vintage Champagne (Entirely from one year)

Jean Vesselle, Bouzy Grand Cru, “Prestige” Millésime 2000
Granted, we offered this out of magnum, it was one of the greatest Champagne experiences of 2018. Entirely from Grand Cru Bouzy and cellar-aged for 16 years before disgorgement, this richly layered, turn-of-the-century millésime was a superbly rare treat.

 

Paul Déthune, Brut Grand Cru, “Cuvée à l’Ancienne” 2011
Consistently delicious and unfathomably textured, Déthune has quickly become one of my favorite producers. This was the greatest 2011 Champagne I (Mark) have ever tasted and a “top three” candidate of the year for me. Bottled with hemp twine, to mirror the “old way.” Nice touch.

 

Non-Vintage (A blend of years; multi-vintage)

André Clouet, Grande Réserve, Brut Grand Cru
No surprise here. André Clouet is a recurring SommSelect theme and each ‘NV’ release is always a ripe and lavish take on the Grand Cru villages of Bouzy and Ambonnay. Unbeatable price, swanky label, opulent Champagne—it’s hard not to impress a guest with this.

 

Egly-Ouriet, Brut Tradition Grand Cru
One of the most elite grower-producers in the entirety of Champagne. Organic, barrel-aged wines with unmatched ripeness and depth. Although his entry-level bottling, this Brut Tradition beats out a slew of prestige cuvées twice the price.

 

Non-Champagne (Other sparkling wines from around the world)

Maison Crochet, “Cuvée Crochet” Sparkling Rosé
Another new find for us and one of the most breathtakingly gorgeous and mouthwateringly fresh sparkling rosés I’ve had—just wait until you see the price! From a tiny estate in Lorraine, a historic region between Champagne and Alsace. Don’t recognize this one? Keen eye! Be on the lookout in the coming days.

 

Gut Hermannsberg, Riesling Sekt, Brut
A tough choice! We offered a few German sparklers this year, all around the same price, but I’m giving Gut Hermannsberg the slight edge. Super clean and floral with an ultra-soft mousse, this is a perfect bottle to revisit when flowers are in bloom.

“It’s Like Those French Have a Different Word for Everything”

A refresher on some of the more heavily used winespeak in our rotation. One of the formative experiences of my adolescence was my receipt, at the age of 13 or so, of Steve Martin’s comedy album, “A Wild and Crazy Guy.” I’m assuming most of the SommSelect demographic knows this album (and, for that matter, […]

Burgundy’s Game of Inches

When our offer of Boyer-Martenot’s 2016 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Le Cailleret” came up in the queue recently, I was prompted to rummage around in my photos from our visit to Burgundy back in March. And, boom, there is was: A picture of Ian Cauble standing on the narrow path that separates the Grand Cru “Le […]

SommSelect Lands a Whale: Fred Dame, MS

Anyone who’s seen the SOMM Films (a third installment of which is headed to theaters this fall) or spent any time working in the wine trade knows Fred Dame—one of the “O.G.” Master Sommeliers in America and a mentor to many who’ve gone through the MS program since (including our own Ian Cauble). Fred was […]

A Master Sommelier’s Napa Valley Favorites

All of us at SommSelect are thrilled to welcome back our buddy Matt Stamp, MS, who’s not only a great sommelier but a great writer. We asked Matt, a longtime Napa resident, to share some of his favorite spots with our subscribers—read what he has to say below: Some autumn days, Napa Valley feels like […]

SommSelect Tour de France: Day One!

  We’re excited to report that we just landed in France and are about to embark on a barnstorming tour of the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and the Rhône with our friend Bill Elbring of North Berkeley Imports—one of our go-to distributors of French wines (Elbring, by the way, is Gold Watch material at North Berkeley; […]