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Sunday, May 9, 2021

The best Champagne isn’t Champagne

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There was a time when the French were proud that they took the final call on Champagne. But decades later, Germany is threatening to take the final beverage selection of the Belgian producers, who continue to proudly say that their way is the best.

In fact, the oldest Champagne is labelled winemaker du Champagne, named for his style. The only losers are the customers. At Christmas time, I like to sneak in a few bottles.

But it’s not about the label: It’s about the fizz. After all, this is a dry, fresh bubbly. The perfect accompaniment to a good meal of spice-covered eggs or hearty meatballs. Or a fine steak.

And it also matches well with your time of day: After a cold day spent outside, sip a crisp Champagne straight from the cork and you’ll be into it.

Champagne, Champagne-like Bottles

The Armand de Brignac, or Ace of Spades, is called the world’s best Champagne by many top flight critics. This 13 litre Brut Coteaux-du-Champagne ($1,700) comes from the famous Champagne region in southwest France. The brut style of the champagne bottles is lighter and sweeter than the ordinary Champagne, but is matched with a more delicate flavor.

The Baron Blancaud, aka Burgundy Standard, is a Champagne in its truest sense, according to some, as only one vintage can be produced each year. This baby, 16 liters ($2,800) of vintage Blancaud, comes from the village of Domaine-sur-Danon in the Graves region of the Burgundy, France. The white flamed coupe is full of mineral flavors and is perfect for a weekday aperitif.

There are Champagne Proseccos, which are made from Piedmont grapes in Italy and sold worldwide. So many, in fact, that it makes me wonder who the bubbly companies keep a list of bottlers.

But what would happen if there was a brand called Prosecco Cabernet Sauvignon? It is billed as a sparkling wine of Argentina’s Santa Cruz Mountains that is low in alcohol but full of big flavors and earthy aromas. Could it take the crown as the world’s greatest bubbly?

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