Six true Champagnes bargains

December 18, 2012

The half-dozen bottles on this list will make your celebrations — annual or daily — quite satisfying. A few are in limited supply. And four will cost you $40 or less.

Pierre Paillard Brut Rosé Bouzy

★★★

Champagne, France, $53

The salmon-tinted fizz shoots a beam of red-berry flavors across the palate, as if the bubbles are eager to escape the glass. Then its long and satisfying finish keeps it firmly anchored earthward, in Champagne.

Potomac Selections: Available in the District at Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits; on the list at Cork Wine Bar. Available in Maryland at Grand Cru in Baltimore. Available in Virginia at Planet Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria.

Jean Vesselle Rosé Demi-Sec Friandise

★★★

Champagne, France, $48

This ever-so-slightly sweet rosé is fruitier than most champagne, yet not as fruity as New World sparkling typically gets. Don’t think of it as sweet. (Demi-sec literally means “half-dry” but is often rather sweet.) The slight residual sugar is kept in check by the lively acidity, and this wine would be a terrific partner to Asian cuisines or light fruit desserts.

Dionysus: Available in the District at Rodman’s, Wagshal’s Market; on the list at Adour. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s in Bethesda, Finewine.com in Gaithersburg. Available in Virginia at Balducci’s in Alexandria and McLean, Chain Bridge Cellars in McLean, Unwined in Alexandria and Belleview.

Charles de Cazanove Brut

★★1 / 2

Champagne, France, $30

Wow. What a terrific champers for the money. It’s an excellent introduction to what makes champagne special, and those already familiar with the genre will appreciate its sophistication. Widely available, it’s the value find of the year.

M Touton Selection: Available at Burka’s Wine & Liquor, Cairo Wine & Liquor, Calvert Woodley, Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, Connecticut Avenue Wine & Liquor, Harry’s Reserve Fine Wine & Spirits, MacArthur Beverages, Magruder’s, Paul’s of Chevy Chase, Rodman’s. Available in Maryland at Balducci’s, Beer Wine & Co. and Bethesda Co-Op in Bethesda; Camelot Discount Liquors, Roundabout Fine Wine & Spirits in Laurel; Columbia Palace Wine & Spirits in Columbia; Franklin’s Liquors in Ijamsville; Frederick Wine House and Old Farm Liquors in Frederick; Glenwood Wine & Spirits; Greenbelt Co-op; Hillandale Beer & Wine in Silver Spring; Potomac Beer & Wine in Rockville; Silesia Liquors in Fort Washington; State Line Liquors in Elkton; Wine Bin in Ellicott City; Wine Harvest in Potomac. Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Grateful Red Wine & Gift Shop in Arlington; Chain Bridge Cellars and the Vineyard in McLean; Crystal City Wine Shop; Leesburg Vintner; Rio Hill Wine & Gourmet in Charlottesville; Unwined in Alexandria; various Whole Foods Market locations.

Thierry Triolet Grande Reserve Brut

★★1 / 2

Champagne, France, $40

Toasty and rich, this is a nice champagne to have with medium-weight poultry or fish dishes.

Wine Traditions: Available in the District at A.M. Wine Shoppe, Cork Market; on the list at Cashion’s Eat Place, Cork Wine Bar, the Tabard Inn. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington.

Roland Champion Cuvee d’Aramis Brut

1 / 2

Champagne, France, $35

This is a powerful champagne, showing the red-berry fruit of its red grapes — pinot meunier and pinot noir — and the chalky minerality of the region. Delightful, and a terrific value.

Kysela: Available in the District at Ace Beverage, Magruder’s, P&C Market, Paul’s of Chevy Chase. Available in Virginia at Wine Lovers in Richmond, Out of Site Wines in Vienna.

R. Dumont & Fils Brut

★★

Champagne, France, $35

From the southern part of Champagne, where most of the grapes are sold to the major houses, comes this beautifully made brut that offers true champagne character at a rather low price, making it attractive for restaurants to serve by the glass.

Wine Traditions: Available in the District at Ace Beverage; on the list at Bistrot Lepic, Ripple. Available in Virginia at Arrowine in Arlington, J. Emerson Fine Wines & Cheese in Richmond, Maison du Vin in Great Falls, Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria; on the list at Bastille in Alexandria.

Recommended champagnes

r r rExceptional  r rExcellent rVery Good

Prices are approximate. Check Winesearcher.com to verify availability, or ask a favorite wine store to order through a distributor.

The half-dozen bottles on this list will make your celebrations — annual or daily — quite satisfying. A few are in limited supply. And four will cost you $40 or less.

— D.M.

Dave McIntyre is a wine columnist for The Washington Post. He also blogs at dmwineline.com.
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