Print out this list and take it to your favorite liquor store! I love Champagne, and it’s not just for New Year’s Eve or for celebrations (I drink it on Tuesdays). But it is the staple drink to ring in the New Year, so I reached out to some of the best wine minds in Minnesota to ask for their tips on what you should buy.
Erica Rokke, Zipp’s Liquors: Jean Paul Brun FRV 100 Sparkling Gamay, $17.99. After working all day on NYE I just want something fun and fruity, but still has great acidity that I can enjoy and not have to think about too much.
Rob Bonelli, 1010 Washington Wine & Spirits: Gruet Brut from New Mexico, $15.99. Gruet has been described as “America’s best sparkling wine” and it’s a great value. Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco, $14.99
Beau Farrell, Haskell’s: Louis Bouillot Brut (Cremant de Bourgogne sparkling wine from Burgundy, France), $15.99. The wine is well crafted and delicious. Simple, clean and always fun to open and enjoy with friends. I get out of trouble with my wife with this wine. When I screw up, I don’t send flowers, I offer wine. Works every time.
Jason Kallsen, Twin Cities Wine: Mercat Brut Rose is new to the Minnesota market in 2016, and has all the red fruit tinged goodness that you expect from awesome dry pink wine. A wispy pale pink color shows off the delicate hand in the winemaking of this, and I can’t think of anything better with smoked salmon. Find at North Loop Wine and Spirits.
Bill Belkin, Lund’s and Byerlys: Chandon Brut Classic, $14.99. Brut Classic consistently expresses our signature flavor profile of apple, pear, and citrus flavors and aromas with a hint of spice that leads to a soft, dry finish.
Chandon Blanc de Noirs, $14.99. Blanc de Noirs is made from all red wine grapes, characteristically marked by cherry, currant, and strawberry aromas and flavors. These red fruit flavors build in the mid-palate and finish with a soft, lingering creamy texture.
Photo courtesy Jason Kallsen
Beau Farrell, Haskell’s: Lete Vautrains Grand Reserve Brut, $29.99. Grower Champagne is all the rage right now. Think of it as “craft” Champagne. Most of the Champagnes we know of buy grapes sourced from all over the Champagne region in order to produce a consistent product year after year. Grower Champagne on the other hand is sourced from single vineyards. The wine is from same estate that owns the vineyards from which the grapes are grown.
Chuck Kanski, Solo Vino: Arnoux Crémant de Bourgogne, $29.99. This is French wine, but not from the Champagne region so it doesn’t have the champagne price. Notes of apple, peach, and custard. Jacques Chaput, Le Brut Tradition: $37.99. 20% Chardonnay, 80% Pinot Noir, this is intense champagne with soft full apple and raspberry notes aromas. A great value wine for Champagne.
Rob Bonelli, 1010 Washington: Laurent Perrier Brut, $34.99. A great price for a very nice champagne. Mumm Cordon Rouge, $34.99 has a very fresh taste with fruit flavors and a caramel finish. Both great values, $15 off normal price.
Peter Vars, Thomas Liquors: Monthuys Pere et Fils Brut Reserve Champagne, $30. Probably the best cheap champagne out there: Monthuys, a Pinot Meunier dominant cuvée that has a classic yeasty quality. This wine is a pretty sweet bargain because it comes from deep down the Marne River valley, on the way to Paris. More often than not, wines that are farmed closer to Reims and Epernay tend to be a lot more expensive comparatively.
Jason Kallsen, Twin Cities Wine: Hush Heath Balfour 1503 Classic Cuvée, $45 at Thomas Liquors. One of the rarest sparkling wines available in Minnesota (only 3300 cases produced for the world) and one of the most interesting. Ripe apple, apricot skin and lemongrass aromas: It’s the Emma Stone of sparkling wines. Incredibly talented, polished, acting far older than their young age. And like Emma Stone, it’s about to finally get the recognition that one sip will prove it deserves.
Jason Kallsen, Twin Cities Wine: Ronco Calino Saten Franciacorta, North Loop Wine and Spirits: In north central Italy lies the wine region of Franciacorta. Produced mostly from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (just like Champagne) plus a touch of Pinot Blanc, it’s truly the Champagne of Italy. Franciacorta is one of those awesome wines that most people have never had or heard of, but will have one sip then reach for the bottle to remember what it is.
Photo Courtesy Peter Vars
Higher Cost/Special Occasion
Bill Ward, decant-this.com: The Pierre Caillot Premier Cru Grande Reserve tastes like a $150 wine for less than half the price. It’s vivid and vibrant, with great citrus and yeasty notes and a tingly, near-endless finish. I call it “Sex in a Bottle.” It’s available at North Loop, Solo Vino, Thomas, Sid’s in Plymouth, and of course St. Genevieve.
Erica Rokke, Zipp’s Liquors: Tarlant Cuvee Louis, $89.99. One of my favorites: the base wine for this Champagne are from 1996, 1997, and 1998 which makes this one of the most interesting and complex non vintage champagnes I’ve had!
Beau Farrell, Haskell’s: Perrier Jouet Fleur de Champagne, $99.99. Classic luxury Champagne. The wine comes from Epernay region. Hand painted flower bottle is always very elegant. The winery was started in 1811 and first came to America in 1837. Now makes three million bottles annually.
Bill Belkin, Lund’s and Byerlys: Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne, $49.99. This special bottle of non-vintage bubbly features more Grand Cru vineyards, more Pinot Noir grapes and partial barrel fermentation, which gives it an unmistakable aroma of biscuits and brioche. Fuller bodied, it can easily carry the main meal.
Chuck Kanski, Solo Vino: Phillipe Gonet Grande Reserve Brut, $69.99. Chantal Gonet just came to the Twin Cities and her champagnes are truly special. The Grande Reserve is well-balanced after spending three years aging in the bottles in their cellars. It’s fruity and floral on the nose, but sensual fruit as you taste. (Also find the Signature Brut at Solo Vino and France 44, for $74.99)
Leslee Miller, Amusee Wine: Bérêche & Fils ‘Campania Remensis’ Extra Brut Rosé Champagne, $99.99. Bright fresh cherry pit, underripe raspberry, rosy florals, and bits of chalk and zesty lemon make this one gorgeous sip. Find it at 1010 Washington.
Rob Bonelli, 1010 Washington: Dehours Grand Reserve Brut, $61.99. This is what I’ll be drinking. Dehours’ uses a bunch of Pinot Meunier in the blend which offers more fruit and acid. One of my favorite champagnes this year.
Peter Vars, Thomas Liquors: Lanson Champagne, 2002 Vintage, $75. Lanson focuses on extended bottle aging and this wine spent over 10 years on it yeast in the bottle before being disgorged/finished. Very complex and powerful. A real treat for vintage champagne connoisseurs.
Jason Kallsen, Twin Cities Wine: Digby Fine English Non Vintage Brut, $60, North Loop Wine & Spirits. It’s like drinking a primo Blanc de Blanc Champagne. Bright and edgy cider like aromas with wildflowers and happiness abounding, and a flavor that is at once cutting and gentle at the same time. 40% Pinot Noir, 35% aged Chardonnay, and 25% Pinot Munier.