My obsession with holiday sparkling wine is, well, bubbling over today with three champagnes. I’ve saved the champagne for last because it’s the standard against which all other sparkling wine is judged and that makes it very special. We received these champagnes as tasting samples.
Champagne Boizel Brut Réserve NV — medium yellow in the glass with generous fine bubbles. Generous aromas of bruised apples are reflected in the flavors along with hazel nuts and toast. Bubbles are mouth filling and last a good long time along with the flavors. 12% abv. SRP $49.99
This champagne has a flavor profile that is quite distinct from the other two in this group and one I associate with bottle-age in some white wines. This champagne was disgorged in December 2016, which tells us it has been aging in the bottle without lees for three years. Consider pairing this interesting champagne with a meal — chicken breast diable or chicken, apples and cream à la normande from Dori Greenspan’s Around My French Table would do nicely.
Champagne Boizel was established in Épernay by Auguste and Julie Boizel in 1834 and remains in the capable hands of the Boizel family. The Brut Réserve is a blend of 55% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Meunier. The still wines (vins clairs) from the year are blended with 30% of reserve wines kept from the previous two harvests, ensuring consistency. The wine is aged in the bottle for three years on the lees after the second, bubble-producing fermentation.
Champagne André Jacquart Vertus Expérience Premier Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs NV — pale yellow in the glass with aromas of fresh citrus and crushed gravel. The flavors are bright, citrusy, steely and gravelly with toasty notes in the background. Exhilarating is the word that comes to mind. 12% abv.
If you enjoy bright, crisp, citrusy champagne, this is the wine for you. It doesn’t need food in my view, but it will pair beautifully with white fish or scallops.
Champagne André Jacquart is another family-owned Champagne house and they are also considered a grower champagne because they grow all the grapes that are used to make their champagne. Another note of distinction is the use of oak aging in making the base wines.
The Vertus Expérience Premier Cru Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs consists of 60% Vertus 1er Cru. Chardonnay vinified in stainless steel and 40% Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Oger Chardonnay vinified in older Burgundy oak barrels. There is no malolactic fermentation. The wine aged for 4 years in the bottle on the lees before disgorgement.
Champagne Bruno Paillard Extra Brut Première Cuvée MV — pale yellow in the glass with generous small bubbles. Bright citrusy aromas and flavors gain complexity with notable minerality and toasted almonds. Yeasty notes wind through the background. Brilliant acidity keeps this champagne so light and refreshing and will have you salivating. 12% abv. SRP $50
This champagne is right up my alley. I love steely, acid-driven champagne and to my palate this one fits that description. It’s easy sipping and pairs beautifully with Dungeness crab, my all-time favorite pairing with this champagne. Oysters would be lovely as well.
Champagne Bruno Paillard is the new kid on the block in this group of champagnes. The house was only established in 1981 by Bruno Paillard, who became the first in 1983 to routinely note the date of disgorgement on every bottle of his champagne. In 2007 Alice Paillard, Bruno’s fourth and youngest child, joined Champagne Bruno Paillard.
Another point of distinction is that you will see Champagne Bruno Paillard described as multi-vintage rather than non-vintage. He feels this is a more accurate description of his wines given the relatively high percentage (33% on average) of reserve wines in his champagnes. Over 25 years of cellared reserve blends are on hand for blending.
Because the holidays are upon us you needn’t wait long for a special occasion to enjoy champagne. Yay! Once the holidays are behind us, please don’t wait until next year to reach for a bottle of champagne. Remember: champagne can make any occasion a special one.