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Bubbly, Sparklers, Stars! Sommelier's Perspective

Champagne is a great beverage choice for ringing in the new year! This particular bubbly must be produced from grapes grown in one of the five wine regions of Champagne which are located about 90 minutes north of Paris by car. Traditionally this wine is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay.

You will also find Champagne called Blanc de Blancs made from the white grape Chardonnay, and Blanc de Noirs made from the black grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Champagne can be found in a range of sweetness levels from the driest which is Brut, to increasingly sweeter wines labelled Dry, Demi-Sec, then Doux. Here are a few reasonably priced sparklers to consider for your celebration:


Photo credit: TinyTall Photo credit: TinyTall

Photo credit: TinyTall

Champagne Guy Charlemagne is a family of winegrowers in the Côte des Blancs region dating back to 1892. They produce wine only from their own vineyards, approximately 130,000 bottles annually. Their Brut Rose Champagne is made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes from their Mancy and Cuis vineyards of chalky clay soil. Guy Charlemagne lists wine flavours of Cassis, Blackberry, and Strawberry jam.

LCBO Tasting Note: Bright and lively, offering notes of fresh-cut pink grapefruit, black cherry and peach, with hints of spice cake, tea rose and fresh ginger. There's good intensity to this, but with the refined bead the wine seems elegant overall. Delicious. Drink now through 2020. Score - 92. (Alison Napjus,, Dec. 31, 2011)


PIPER-HEIDSIECK is located in the Montagne de Reims region. Their Brut is made mostly of Pinot Noir from over 100 crus (growing areas) in Champagne, and some Pinot Meunier from the Grande et Petite Montagne de Reims region. This house describes their Cuvée Brut as "A juicy, fleshy pear and golden grape texture. The finish narrows to citrus and grapefruit flavours."

LCBO Tasting Note: Light straw colour; dry and medium-bodied with fine bubbles and rich yeasty aromas; biscuits and apricot fruit flavours with a crisp finish.


Champagne HENRIOT, a family owned house in Reims, was founded in 1808. Brut Souverain is made from Chardonnay, mostly from the Côte des Blancs, and Pinot Noir, mostly from the Montagne de Reims, and a small amount of Pinot Meunier. They use 20% reserve wines, more or less depending on the vintage. More than 25 crus are used in their assemblage including village crus: Mesnil sur Oger, Oger, Avize, Cramant, Chouilly, Aÿ, Verzy, Verzenay, Beaumont, Sillery, and Mailly Champagne.

LCBO Tasting Note: Well-structured and powered by firm acidity, this offers notes of glazed apple, black cherry, candied lemon zest and toasted brioche, with a lingering hint of mineral. Clean finish. Drink now through 2015. Score - 92. (Alison Napjus,, Dec. 15, 2012)


Moët & Chandon is in Epernay with cellars located 10-30 metres underneath their chalky soil spanning 28km, the largest in Champagne. Their Brut Imperial is made with more than 100 different wines: 30 to 40% Pinot Noir for body, 30 to 40% Pinot Meunier for suppleness, and 20 to 30% Chardonnay for finesse. Of these wines, 20 to 30% are reserve wines included in the assemblage.

LCBO Tasting Note: Straw/gold colour with with a greenish tinge and a fine mousse; forward floral, mineral, toasty, brioche, and yeasty aromas; dry with citrus, delicate bread dough and apple flavours; light creamy mouthfeel with crisp citrus acidity and a clean finish.


Veuve Clicquot is located in Reims. Their Brut is made up of grapes from 50 to 60 different crus: 50 to 55% is Pinot Noir for structure, 15 to 20% Pinot Meunier to round out the blend, and 28 to 33% Chardonnay for balancing the wine. This house uses 25 to 40% of their reserve wines to ensure continuity of their style.

LCBO Tasting Note: Bright yellow straw colour, elegant mousse; Fruity, citrus, mineral, toasty aromas with a hint of bread dough; Dry, full bodied style, with well balanced acidity & complex flavours of mineral, citrus and shortbread on the long finish.

Serve Champagne between 8 and 10 degrees Celcius for aromas to develop. Chill Champagne in an ice bucket filled halfway with ice and water for about 20 minutes, and Voila! For simple nibbles, try these perfect pairings for Champagne: potato chips or popcorn. Now all you need is a toast. I will leave you with this one:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring happy bells across the snow;

The year is going, let him go.

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

So there you go: Bubbly, Sparklers, Stars!