I love a good champagne. A simple sip of the beautiful bubbles can transport me to a small village in France or make the insanity of a busy world disappear for just a little while. While I don’t wait for a special occasion like New Year’s Eve to open that bottle of bubbly, it does offer one more perfect opportunity. For those looking to find the right champagne to usher out one year and welcome in the next, here are my choices for the 5 best champagnes for a New Year celebration to remember.
What is Champagne?
Champagne is sparkling wine that only comes from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France. There are sparkling wines from all around the world, but only those from Champagne, France are called champagnes. Champagnes are made primarily with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes.
1—Krug Brut Champagne 2002
The House of Krug takes special pleasure in blending every vintage of champagne and you can tell differences in the wines based on the harvest from year to year. I particularly love the 2002 champagne, which enjoyed a late harvest due to a warm, dry year. The 2002 champagnes spent more about 14 years in the Krug cellars, so they are beautifully developed wines. The blend is 40% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier.
The Krug Brut Champagne 2002 is a beautiful gold color and such a lovely fruit fragrance. I enjoy the hints of strawberry and orange and slight smokiness in this champagne. It pairs well with duck breast—or is ideal for sipping at any time, of course. You can find out more about the House of Krug online at krug.com.
2—NV Drappier Brut Rosé Champagne
I discovered Champagne Drappier a couple of years ago during a tour through the Champagne region when I visited with the Drappier family. To help celebrate your New Year’s Eve in style, I would suggest the NV Drappier Brut Rosé Champagne.
While not all Drappier champagnes are available outside of France, this one is available around the globe and retails online for under $60 (US) a bottle, making it a tasty option for the New Year.
This is a 100% Pinot Noir rosé created in the “saignée method,” meaning the crushed grapes are soaked with the skins, seeds and stems for three days giving it the lovely pink color. There is no mechanical pumping, no filtering and minimal sulfites in this champagne and it ages for two to three years after bottling. It is a light champagne with the aromas of strawberries and a touch of spice and cherry from the Pinot Noir. Drappier is known for its very fine bubbles, so this is a great champagne to serve as an aperitif before a meal or for those who want a light and bright champagne. It also pairs beautifully with a salad, strawberries, goat cheese or salmon. Find out more about Champagne Drappier online at champagne-drappier.com.
3—Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Vintage 2008
The Grand Vintage is Moët & Chandon’s unique champagne offered each year. The cellar master gets to be creative, celebrating the true spirit of the year’s harvest. And 2008 was a very good year for champagnes. The Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Vintage 2008 is 46% Pinot Noir (of which 20% is red wine), 32% Chardonnay and 22% Meunier. It has been aged seven years in the cellars.
The first aroma I get with this champagne is a luscious ripe raspberry and then I pick up mango and other tropical fruits. On the palate, it’s a lovely balance of sweet and fruity with a bit of caramel, but balanced with the acidity of some grapefruit. I also pick up a touch of something exotic—maybe ginger—to balance it out.
Personally, this is one I enjoy drinking without food because I love to savor the bubbles and the incredible fruit in the Moët & Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Vintage 2008. Find out more about Moët & Chandon at us.moet.com.
4—Veuve Clicquot Brut 2008
Most of us see the more common Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label in the stores and those are fun, drinkable champagnes that make every gathering more fun. But the vintage Vueve Clicquot champagnes are a step above and I recommend the Veuve Clicquot Brut 2008 for your New Year celebrations. Remember, 2008 was a phenomenal year for the Champagne grapes. The weather was perfect and the grapes matured, offering amazing wines that year. New to Veuve Clicquot for 2008—5% of their wines were aged in wooden casks from the forests in Central France, which added a new richness to their champagnes.
The 2008 is a beautiful clear gold with a lovely bubble. It has the first aroma of apricots and a touch of citrus. When you taste it, you get the toasty vanilla from the barrels, but you also get the fruit of the Pinot Noir, that lovely chalky minerality from the hills of Champagne and a bit of citrus that keeps the wine light and fun. This one works really well as an aperitif to sip alone or pairs well with veal, quail or an aged cheese. Find out more about Veuve Clicquot at veuveclicquot.com.
5—Bonus Bubbly: Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé by Taittinger
If you prefer to try something a little less expensive than the champagnes of France to toast the New Year, I suggest trying Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour by Taittinger. While not technically a champagne because it is produced in the United States, Domaine Carneros was founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger, one of Champagne’s leading producers.
Domaine Carneros produces some beautiful sparkling wines in Napa Valley, California and they offer a nice variety of sparkling wines, most from estate-grown grapes. My favorite is the Cuvée de la Pompadour. This Brut Rosé is a lovely Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend made from estate-grown, green-certified fruit. This bubbly has a fragrant strawberry aroma. Despite the beautiful pink color that many Americans somehow still believe translates to “sweet,” this is a true brut and is completely dry, so it pairs well with food, particularly duck and salmon. This sparkling wine ages for 18 months in the bottle before it goes out to consumers. It is reasonably priced at about $37 per bottle. Find out more about Domaine Carneros online at domainecarneros.com.
While I personally don’t believe you need a special occasion to pop the cork and pour a glass of bubbly, if you really must have one, the celebration of a New Year is ideal. We here at Wander With Wonder hope that the coming year offers you peace and hope. We trust that you will find a world filled with happy travels and many wow moments, whether you travel around the world or across the street. As you celebrate the coming year, go ahead and uncork one of these 5 best champagnes for a New Year celebration to remember.