Champagne Victories

My thoughts on Champagne have always followed Sir Winston Churchill’s: “In victory, deserve it; in defeat, need it.” But lately I’ve been thinking about how years of ordinary defeats and victories can pass in a year without a single meaningful cork being popped. That’s not right! What is life but a series of everyday victories: the toddler learning to share; the lateral career move and moderate pay raise is gained; the 12th-year anniversary is cursorily observed; the garage is cleaned. I mean, all you really need to turn the sweep of everyday life into a ceremony of triumph is the right bottle, like one of these.
 

Mumm Napa 2006 Blanc de Blancs

A beautiful California newcomer: lilting, lively, nectarine and apple, and offering just enough energy and nerve to let you know that it’s not just a pretty face, but conceals depths worth getting to know. Available: MGM Liquors, various locations. ($30)
 

Schramsberg 2007 Blanc de Noirs

The U.S.’s most historic bubbly wine has been served in the White House for decades, and this gem shows why: Round and even, with vanilla and cherry elements seamlessly weaving around one another, it goes as well with victory as it does with chicken. Available: France 44, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-285-7643, france44.com ($40)
 

Jean-Noel Haton Rose Brut NV

A really good French rosé Champagne alienates nearly everyone: It’s too pretty and strawberry-girly for most wine snobs, and too svelte and elegant for the strawberry-girl crowd. If you’re one of the few who can appreciate a smile and a wink leading to real depth, this will curl your toes with joy. Available: Big Top Midway, 1574 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 651-644-4501, bigtopliquors.com ($45)
 

Bollinger La Grande Année 1999

This stuff should be kept under lock and key. It’s almost intolerably sensuous: A puff of almond-biscuit smoke dissolving on satin sheets, a promise delivered that bliss has a price, a finish that lasts nearly as long as a Bentley. If you’re celebrating a victory to remember forever, this is your splurge. available: Solo Vino, 517 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-9515, solovinowines.com ($129)

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