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Best Champagne

Champagne is the undisputed king of the sparkling wines. Vintners in Champagne, France have been perfecting the art of bottle fermentation for hundreds of years and though similarly styled wines are made all over the world, there isn't any sparkling wine that tops a really good Champagne.

France has stringent regulations about what kind of grapes can be grown in what regions. In Champagne, there are three types of grapes that can be grown, Chardonnay, a white wine grape, and Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which are both red wine grapes. Blanc de Blanc Champagnes are always made from Chardonnay, while Blanc de Noirs are usually made from a majority of Pinot Noir that can be blended with the other two types of grapes.

Once the grapes have been pressed and the wine fermented, it is bottled with some of the yeast. The yeast finishes turning sugar into alcohol while sealed in the bottle, releasing carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Since there's nowhere for the carbon dioxide to escape to from a sealed bottle, over time, the wine becomes carbonated.

You'll notice the terms dry, extra-dry, or brut appear on each bottle of Champagne. These terms describe the amount of residual sugar in wine, with dry having the most sugar and brut the least. Occasionally, Champagnes may also be labeled extra brut and brut nature, which are drier than brut. Champagnes also have a year or the letters NV, printed on the bottle. NV stands for Non-Vintage, which means that the wine is blended from grapes harvested over a number of different years. While many NV Champagnes are very well made, NV Champagnes are not considered to be the highest quality. This means you can buy them for less than you'd spend on a vintage wine. If you're set on getting the best Champagne out there, make sure you buy a wine from a year when the harvest was excellent. 2004 was the best recent vintage in France.

Krug Grande Cuvee

Krug Grande Cuvee

Krug Grande Cuvee is widely regarded as one of the best Champagnes in the world. This non-vintage wine is blended from 120 crus taken from 15 years of harvests. It takes around 20 years to craft each wine, which is carefully blended so that each year's release tastes just like the year before. This makes Krug Grande Cuvee one of the most reliable Champagnes on the market. Critics consistently give this Champagne a rating of over 95 points, for its complexity and excellent balance. It has a sweet nose, with aromas of dried fruit, flowers, and gingerbread, and a rich, nutty flavor with a long finish.

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Taittinger Brut La Francaise

The Champagne of choice at Hollywood parties, Taittinger Brut La Francaise is an excellent Champagne that won't burn a hole in your bank account. This non-vintage wine is blended from 40 percent Chardonnay and 60 percent Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, taken from vintages dating back 35 years. This makes it an incredibly reliable Champagne that will taste the same from year to year. It's a creamy wine, with a fruit-forward nose and a touch of fruit and honey on the palate. It has a fine bubble and a crisp mouthfeel. Though it's already been aged for at least three years before release, it can benefit from a few more years in the wine cellar.

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Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne

Blended from no less than 100 different wines, Moet & Chandon Imperial is one of the most consistent Champagnes there are. The vintners have been perfecting their formula and process since 1869, and have created a complex wine that shows off all three of the grapes grown in the Champagne region of France; Pinot Noir, Pino Meunier, and Chardonnay. This Champagne has a lot of bright fruit, a fine bubble, and a crisp finish that makes it very easy to drink.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut

With a creamy texture and plenty of perfect, tiny bubbles, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut is one of the best cheap Champagnes you can buy. Each batch is aged for at least two years prior to release and can be aged for up to another five at home. There's a lot of perfume to the nose of this wine, as well as honeysuckle, pear, and floral notes. The bouquet also has plenty of fruit, and the finish is clean and dry. Nicolas Feuillatte has won numerous awards for this wine, and frequently receives ratings of 90 points and above by wine critics.

Veuve Clicquot Brut

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut

A non-vintage wine, Veuve Clicquot is a classical, dry Champagne that brings a bit of bitterness to the sweet mimosa. It has notes of grapefruit, which pairs well with orange juice, and plenty of fine bubbles that will keep your mimosa carbonated while you enjoy brunch. This wine is a blend of all three Champagne grapes and crafted from up to 40 percent reserve wines, allowing it a great deal of consistency from year to year. As it ages, Veuve Clicquot will develop notes of brioche and vanilla so if you like the sharp tang of a crisp Champagne in your mimosa, you'll want to enjoy this wine while it's still young.

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