The World's Best Champagne

Mark Twain said: "Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right."  We agree.

There aren't many drinks that say "celebration" quite like Champagne. The festive fizz has spawned a litany of passionate quotes from Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel to F. Scott Fitzgerald's fevered "I'll drink your champagne. I'll drink every drop of it, I don't care if it kills me."

Champagne undoubtedly inspires and has done for centuries ever since the marketing department decided that Dom Pérignon called out: "Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!"

But why does it continue to capture the imagination quite so strongly? Do the glittering shades of pale gold appeal to our magpie-like tendencies? Is it the taste – after all who doesn't like Champagne? Or is it the celebratory pop of the cork that seems to elicit an irrepressible joie de vivre – one that only the most hard-hearted (or disciplined, depending on your point of view) can resist?

In all likelihood, it is probably the combination of all of the above that keeps Champagne "Top of the Pops." And we now bring you the 10 best on the Wine-Searcher database – true Champagne royalty – just in time for New Year.

1. Krug Clos du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut

Lording over the other bubbles is Krug's Clos de Mesnil, with an aggregated critic score of 96 points. The Champagne house was founded by the multi-talented Joseph Krug, who spoke three languages as well as being a gifted winemaker. His career started at the age of 24, when he gained employment with the Champagne house Jacquesson, but it was only when he was 42 that he decided to take a leap of faith and go solo.

 Annoyed by the fact that making good Champagne was so dependant on the weather, Joseph decided to keep back Champagne reserves for bad vintages so Krug could still release a blend each year. And it was this revolutionary practice that helped push Krug into the lofty position it holds today. The Clos du Mesnil is a pure Chardonnay from a single vineyard plot and is regularly lauded by critics, but for a taste of this you will need on average $1163.

2. Krug Clos d'Ambonnay

The Clos d'Ambonnay is arguably the Pinot Noir equivalent of Clos du Mesnil, a single grape variety expression from a single plot. 

With an aggregated critic score of 95 points, it falls just one point behind its sister wine but with an average of $2543, it is quite literally double the price. In direct comparison to the Clos du Mesnil, Robinson described the 1998 Clos d'Ambonnay as "Very big and bold on the nose. Heady, mushroomy, almost beery!" 

So that's what an extra $1200 (or thereabouts) gets you.

3. Krug Collection Brut

The collection series is a chance for old vintages like the 1990 to have a second life. The Champagnes, having spent 20 plus years in the Krug cellars are then expertly re-blended and repackaged. The series has garnered an aggregated critic score of 95 points on Wine-Searcher and at $980 they may be a tad cheaper than their Krug siblings but they're still not exactly affordable. Over the past five years both prices and availability for all three Krugs have changed very little, so don't expect a bargain to fall into your lap.

4. Salon Cuvée S Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs

Founded by Aime Salon in 1911 who wanted to champion Chardonnay-based Champagne, the Salon Champagne is made from a single cru, Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger in the Côte des Blancs. 100 percent Chardonnay, Salon is only made in the very best years. If a vintage doesn't make the cut it generally goes to Champagne Delamotte, which is also very well-respected being the fifth oldest Champagne House. The Salon Blanc de Blancs has consistently received rave reviews making up an aggregated critic sore of 95 points and with an average price of $575, it's a good deal cheaper than the aforementioned Krugs.

5. Dom Pérignon Oenotheque Brut Millesime

Dom Pérignon was always going to show up at some point on this list, after all it is a classic with a history that can be traced back all the way to the 17th Century and one Benedictine monk. However, from sacred beginnings Dom Pérignon has, in recent years, taken a decidedly more modern turn. Now involved in various arts projects including a photographic collaboration with Lenny Kravitz and a magazine called "Toiletpaper," this Champagne House is down with the kids. Arts and crafts aside, their Oenotheque consistently impresses critics having garnered an aggregated critic score of 95 points. But it's back up to Krug budget with an average price of $895.

6. Jacquesson Aÿ Grand Cru Vauzelle Terme Extra Brut

For a big name in the wine world, Champagne Jacquesson is actually relatively new to the scene having been founded in 1978 by the Chiquet family. As a result, Jacquesson has a reasonably modern vibe with distinct black and white labels broken up only by a dash of red. All Jacquesson wines come from plots in the Grande Vallée de la Marne and Côte des Blancs. The Aÿ Vauzelle Terme comes from the Grande Vallée de la Marne's Aÿ plot and with an aggregated score of 94 points, it's risen through the ranks admirably. What's more with an average price of $164, it's peanuts compared to everything else on this list.

7. Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Millesime

It wouldn't be the world's best Champagnes if Cristal didn't feature somewhere on this list. Louis Roederer goes as far back as the 18th Century and remains very much a family business. The house focuses on traditional Champagne blends and has famously sought illustrious consumers, most notably the Russian Royal Family. Cristal was actually created for Tsar Alexander II whose paranoia drove him to request a clear bottle with a flat bottom so it couldn't conceal any explosives. Although as the man did survive five assassination attempts before he was finally bumped off, he might have had good reason to. However, rap royalty would appear to be less welcome to the fizz with Louis Roederer's Managing Director offending Jay-Z enough to buy Armand de Brignac and found rival Ace of Spades. Although with an aggregated critic score of 94 points and $252 price point, the feud has done little to dampen enthusiasm.

8. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Cave Privée Collection Brut Rose

The only Rosé on this list comes from Veuve Clicquot. The Champagne house was founded in 1772 but burst onto the scene a little later under the ownership of famous Champagne widow, Madame Veuve Clicquot whose clients at the time included another Russian Tsar, Alexander I. Today the brand is owned by the Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessy group which has done a magnificent job of marketing the fizz. Veuve Clicquot is now synonymous with a rather lurid orange and various merchandise from luxury fridges to luggage. But it's Champagne is also very good with the Brut Rosé scoring an aggregate of 94 points and at $281 it comfortably occupies the lower price bracket on this list.

9. Bollinger RD Extra Brut

Bringing up the rear are two Bollingers. Starting life in 1829 as Renaudin-Bollinger & Cie, Champagne Bollinger famously focuses on Pinot Noir dominated wines. The main estate is in the Aÿ region and although the majority of grapes are grown on the estate, the rest is made up from growers with long established relationships with the estate. The Bollinger RD which stands for "recently disgorged" was the creation of Madame Bollinger in the mid-20th Century and it has become a steadfast tipple of James Bond with a relationship going as far back as Diamonds are Forever with more recent appearances including Licence to kill, Skyfall and Spectre. And it's popular with the critics too, scoring an aggregate of 94 points for an average price of $252.

10. Bollinger Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc de Noirs

Upping the ante in terms of price is the Vieilles Vignes Francaises Blanc des Noirs, which although more expensive than the RD, has gained some extraordinary scores for certain vintages. Jeannie Cho Lee gave the 1969 a full 100 points, although the overall aggregate climbs down to a still very impressive 94 points. But as it costs a cool $780 a bottle, if you start saving now, you might be able to scrimp enough together just in time for next Christmas.

Source: - By Natalie Sellers 

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