Red Rooster's Christian Post's Holiday Champagne Picks

Here to tell us about his classic Champagne choices for the holidays as well as a little background into Champagne history, is Red Rooster's Bar Director, Christian Post:

Of course it really isn't the holidays without having friends and family visiting; and nothing says "Welcome to our home" better than a nice Champagne, especially this time of year.  So I recommend that you have some Champagne in your refrigerator chilled and ready to go.  But with so many to choose from which one should you pick? 

The first two things I always focus on are style and price.  What does that mean, "style" of Champagne?  Champagnes can be separated into two broad style categories: Reductive or Oxidative.  If shown the differences between these two styles, most people will choose either one or the other.  When winemakers choose to make their Champagne in the reductive style, they seek to limit the wines exposure to oxygen during the fermentation process; this results in Champagne that is very crisp, clean, sharp, and possibly tart.  They emphasize the acidity which is found naturally in the grapes, so you get flavors in the champagne like Granny Smith apples or slightly under ripened Anjou pears.  Dom Perignon from the house of Moet Hennessy is perhaps the finest such example.

If, however, the winemaker prefers the oxidative style, he or she would encourage exposure to oxygen during the fermentation process which will result in a much creamier, toastier Champagne.  Krug is the finest such example of the oxidative style.  That being said of course, the winemaker may choose to create a Champagne that is not merely one or the other style but some varying degree of either or both styles.  My advice is to taste a few different Champagnes to figure out which is your own preferred style.

The next thing you will need to consider is price.  Sorry to say, but Champagne is not cheap!  It can't be any other way; there's not that much of it.  The region is very small.  While it may be true that wherever wine is made anywhere in the world there is also a sparkling wine from that region (Cava in Spain and Prosecco in Italy are two examples), there is no place on earth quite like the Champagne region of France.  The underlying belemnite and micraster chalk soils are unlike any other in the entire world thus making the sparkling wines from Champagne the best the world has to offer.  But fear not, because I have found a few amazing Champagnes for you at really reasonable prices.  My favorite "go to" Champagne is Paul Goerg "Brut Tradition".  It is made entirely of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%) grapes sourced only from Premier Cru vineyards.  Medium to full bodied, this Champagne boasts beautiful flavors of baked apple, citrus and flower blossoms, but yet has a wonderfully creamy texture and mouth-feel.  At around $35, this Champagne will impress your friends but it won't break your bank.

Stay tuned for our next recipe, the Red Rooster Mistletoe, which is a sparkling wine cocktail that will also impress without breaking the bank!

For other great Champagne alternatives, check out our list for great and affordable sparkling wines here. 

Photo: AtlantaWineGuy

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