Top tips on everything from affordable Australian bubbly to exclusive prestige champagne
Here is the BKWine selection of the best sparkling wines and champagnes for the festive season. Our reporter Jack Jakobsson has tasted a long list of sparkling and champagnes and selected the best for you.
However, this requires some explanation. Each month we taste and review all new launches at the Swedish monopoly, Systembolaget. When the end of the year approaches we also taste their full range of sparkling wines (which is decent but not fabulously big). Each month we publish the reviews and ratings from the tastings and for Christmas and New Year we also do a “special”. But only in Swedish! (It is not so interesting, we think, for those outside of Sweden. Subscribe to the Swedish version of the BKWine Brief if you are interested!)
Many of the wines in the sparkling / champagne selection in Sweden are also widely available in other countries. So this year we will also share with you, our English language readers, our best champagne and bubbly picks.
Dear Wine Lover,
Here are my end-of-the-year tips for your upcoming New Year purchases. I give you a review of all sparkling wines that can right now be found in the “standard” range in Sweden.
Perhaps worth noting in my review of the most affordable as well as the best sparkling wines this autumn is that I can find more or less the same labels this winter as in previous years, albeit with sometimes updated vintages and degorging dates. If it’s my taste that has undergone rigid surgery or if my favourite producers simply have the ability to keep quality over the years, I leave it to you, dear reader, to judge.
Best-value affordable sparkling (including champagne)
As the best value among the “affordable” sparkling wines I have some of the least costly champagnes, 2007 Palmer Blanc de Blancs, Beaumont des Crayères Grande Réserve Brut and Charles Mignon Brut Premium Reserve, the latter two without vintage and keenly priced for those who want to find a champagne label for less than some 20 euro. The 2007 Palmer is ok to drink now but will clearly benefit from some ageing.
If you want to go elsewhere than France, I recommend Cloudy Bay Pelorus Blanc de Blancs, Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs Brut (almost on my BARGAIN list). For not more than some 10 euro they are very affordable, albeit slightly one-dimensional. For your party with plenty of guest where the sight of bubbles are more important than provenance you have two really good alternatives in Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvée and Casa Rivas Brut where Casa Rivas is ideal for outdoor use around midnight especially if your drinking is disturbed by sleet.
If you for some reason must have a bubbly rosé of modest price (and thus character) choose Gardo & Morris Brut Rosé, a rosé that is shining in complexity but that right now is the best value budget option.
- 2007 Palmer Blanc de Blancs
- Beaumont Crayères Grande réserve des Brut
- Charles Mignon Brut Premium Reserve
- Cloudy Bay Pelorus Blanc de Blancs
- Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs Brut
- Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvée
- Casa Rivas Brut
- Gardo & Morris Brut Rosé
Best prestige champagne
If you are looking for quality bubbles of a more prestigious kind then there is a lot to choose from but your selection needs to be preceded by some careful consideration. Few of the best are in their peak maturity at this year’s New Year. However, 2002 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs is one of the exceptions that are. For most others, count on keeping them up to 10+ years before many of the prestige champagnes reach their peak.
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A quick reminder of the winter and spring season (English language) wine tours. Perhaps a last-minute Christmas gift solution? On the schedule:
- Argentina and Chile, February 1-16, 2014, fully-booked
- South Africa, February 28 – March 10, 2014, a few places left. Book now!
- Douro Valley, Portugal, May 14-18, 2014. Book now!
In the so-called mid-level of sparkling (here we are talking in practice only about champagne) I choose this year a quadruple, starting with a non-vintage Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve, then 2006 Henriot Millesime Brut 2004, Michel Gonet Prestige Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Brut Nature (BARGAIN) and Taittinger Brut Réserve. All perfectly possible to drink now but they will improve much with ageing. Henriots cuvée should be matched with some substantial food, maybe a rich lobster soup.
- 2002 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs
- Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve
- 2006 Henriot Brut Millesime
- 2004 Michel Gonet Prestige Grand Cru Blanc de Blanc Brut Nature (BARGAIN)
- Taittinger Brut Réserve
Best luxury bubbles
In the luxury segment the Systembolaget range offers only a limited selection. But there are a few options.
The 2000 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill offers an eminent luxurious feel (the 1999 vintage was my “best champagne” last year) but the change in vintage, in my opinion, has led to that this year’s best champagne in the Systembolaget “standard” range is (the non-vintage) luxury cuvée Krug Grande Cuvée. The wine is delicious now but could / should of course be kept in the cellar for quite some time. The mass-produced and very famous Dom Pérignon, now in the 2004 version, unfortunately did not live up to its price but the wine is in a difficult phase of development so if you are a collector of this particular wine you might get a much better experience in 10-15 years’ time when perhaps the wine’s hidden greatness appears?
Not exactly a luxury champagne, but according to many with a colour of luxury you have (again a repeat from last year!) as clearly the best sparkling rosé Gosset Grand Rosé Brut that fits both an aperitif and a New Year menu with some more elaborate dishes.
- 2000 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill
- Krug Grande Cuvée
- Dom Pérignon
- Gosset Grand Rosé Brut
Best non-alcohol / low-alcohol sparkling
Finally, note the excellent non-alcohol option Toselli Spumante from Bosca Spa and the lightly alcoholic sweet bubbly Mia Moscato from Freixenet. The latter can go well with your dessert, at least if you are serving fresh berries and fruits. Alternatively, the wine can be your option to go with the sorbet that you may have planned on the New Year menu.
- Toselli Spumante, Bosca Spa
- Mia Moscato, Freixenet
Festive greetings for Christmas and New Year from this BKWine envoy who also wishes just you, and only you, a really
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Wine year
Best sparkling wine (in the Swedish monopoly range) autumn 2013
|Best sparkling wine (in the Swedish monopoly range) autumn 2013||(Swedish price,
1 kr = ~0.11 euro)
|17,5p||7494||NV Krug Grande Cuvée||1449 kr|
|17,0p||77522||NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve||459 kr|
|17,0p||7789||2006 Henriot Millésimé Brut||499 kr|
|17,0p||7579||2004 Bollinger La Grande Année Brut||849 kr|
|17,0p||7548||2000 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill (Pol Roger)||1149 kr|
|17,0p||7428||2004 Dom Pérignon (Moët & Chandon)||1247 kr|
|16,5p||7895||2004 Michel Gonet Prestige Grand Cru B de B Brut Nature||339 kr|
|16,5p||7422||NV Taittinger Brut Réserve||369 kr|
|16,5p||7405||NV Gosset Grand Rosé Brut||459 kr|
|16,5p||7871||2005 Taittinger Brut Millésimé||469 kr|
|16,5p||7536||2004 Pol Roger Brut Vintage||479 kr|
|16,5p||88285||2002 Pol Roger Blanc de Blancs||575 kr|
|16,5p||77611||NV Lanson Extra Age Brut Blanc de Blancs||599 kr|
|16,5p||7578||Alfred Gratien Cuvée Paradis Brut||599 kr|
Best value for money in sparkling wines (in the Swedish monopoly range) 2013
|Best value for money in sparkling wines (in the Swedish monopoly range) 2013||(Swedish price,
1 kr = ~0.11 euro)
|16,0p||7553||2007 Palmer Blanc de Blancs||294 kr|
|15,5p||7891||NV Beaumont des Crayères Grande Réserve Brut||199 kr|
|15,0p||7719||NV Charles Mignon Brut Premium Reserve||169 kr|
|14,5p||7894||NV Cloudy Bay Pelorus Blanc de Blancs||129 kr|
|14,5p||6505||2009 Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs Brut||129 kr|
|13,5p||7567||2009 Rotari Brut Riserva (Mezzacorona)||99 kr|
|13,0p||7639||NV Graham Beck Brut Chardonnay Pinot Noir||95 kr|
|13,0p||7732||NV Gardo & Morris Brut Rosé||109 kr|
|12,0p||7359||NV Jacob's Creek Chardonnay Pinot Noir Brut Cuvée||89 kr|
|11,5p||7760||NV Casa Rivas Brut||69 kr|
|10,0p||7897||NV Mia Moscato (Freixenet)||49 kr|
|10,0p||1996||NV Toselli Spumante (Bosca Spa, Alkoholfri)||34 kr|
Best recent releases of sparkling wines, autumn 2013 (Swedish monopoly range)
|Best recent releases of sparkling wines, autumn 2013 (in the Swedish monopoly range)||(Swedish price,
1 kr = ~0.11 euro)
|18,0p||95115||1989 Boizel Joyau de France Brut||995 kr|
|17,5p||96113||2002 Orpale Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Brut||749 kr|
|17,5p||95131||NV Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne Grand Cru Brut||869 kr|
|17,0p||96112||2002 Françoise Bedel Brut L'Ame de la Terre||429 kr|
|17,0p||95016||2004 Bruno Paillard Brut Assemblage||485 kr|
|17,0p||90032||2006 Pierre Peters Cuvée Speciale Les Chétillons||595 kr|
|17,0p||84003||1996 Cuvée St Vincent Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru||749 kr|
|17,0p||97037||NV Jacques Selosse Brut Initial||755 kr|
|16,5p||7419||NV Louis Massing Brut Nature Grand Cru Blanc de blanc||280 kr|
|16,5p||7522||NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve||459 kr|
|16,5p||7611||NV Lanson Extra Age Brut Blanc de Blancs||599 kr|
|16,0p||7734||NV Cuperly Grande Reserve Carte Verte||329 kr|
|15,5p||96051||2010 NV Ridgeview Grosvenor||298 kr|