So you’d rather be bitten on the bum by a bad tempered baboon than go through another Year of the Monkey? Or maybe you’re in the mood to celebrate Chinese “Human Day” — the seventh day of the Lunar New Year traditionally associated with the creation of the human race?
Whether it’s to drown bad memories or raise a toast to some nicer new ones, it’s time to crack open the bubbles.
Champagne is guaranteed to bring a smile to even the most embittered of people; the infectious sound of a popping cork, the golden sparkling hues, peach aromas and the promise of an alcoholic booster to enter your bloodstream quickly and soothe those jagged nerves.
So whatever the budget, here are five superb sparklers to crow about.
Charles Ellner, Seduction 2000
What’s not to love about this? Its very name and label signifies fun, light-hearted times. Run by Jean-Pierre Ellner, the grandson of the estate’s founder, Champagne Charles Ellner is in the heart of Epernay with 50 hectares strewn across 15 picturesque villages.
All Ellner’s Champagne is fermented in stainless steel tanks to preserve the fresh, zesty, mineral fruit flavours and are then left on the lees (yeast) for a minimum of four years, culminating in a round, toasty and deliciously balanced cuvée.
Like any 16 year old, the 2000 is lively, vivacious and most definitely ready for its party debut.
R&L Legras, Cuvée Hommage
The Champagne to the Michelin stars. R&L Legras is a little-known producer in the heart of prime Chardonnay territory, Chouilly in the Côte des Blancs.
The official Champagne supplier for Michelin-starred restaurants across Paris – including La Tour d’Argent since the 1950s. Of particular note is owner Julien Barbier’s Cuvée Hommage in honor of his father. Made up of 100% Chardonnay and after spending 10 years aging gracefully in the family’s historic cellars, the Hommage is a beautiful blend of some of the best recent vintages in Champagne.
Louis Roederer, Brut Cristal 1989
Loved by Tsars and rockstars, Louis Roederer’s flagship cuvée Cristal shot to fame and stardom after it was served to the King of Prussia and the Tsar of Russia at the Three Emperor’s dinner in 1867.
The king reportedly loved it so much that he declared it must be served at the palace – an edict taken up by rap star, Jay Z until he dropped the label in 2006 after a public scrap with Frederic Rouzaud, the then general manager of Louis Roederer. (Rouzard, reportedly, insinuated that Cristal was too good for the likes of Jay Z and his compatriots).
Despite courting a certain amount of controversy, Cristal is well-loved by all, with a higher amount of Pinot Noir at 60% and made from Louis Roederer’s oldest vines.
Reminiscent of the favored 1982 vintage, 1989 had ideal growing conditions with enough vim and vigor to last several more years.
Champagne Drappier, Carte d’Or Brut
One of the oldest Champagne houses, Drappier started life as Domaine Michel Drappier in the early 19th century though long before, Saint Bernard, founder of Clairvaux Abbey built the cellars in 1152.
Nestling in Urville, a place where Pinot Noir flourishes in abundance, Champagne Drappier is known for its Carte d’Or, made up of 75% Pinot Noir and just a touch of Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier to round it out, which culminates in a mineral, aromatic and elegant expression.
Henri Giraud, Argonne grand cru 2004
The pinnacle of winemaking for boutique Champagne house, Henri Giraud, the Argonne grand cru is extremely limited in production and hails from the historic village of Ay.
Owned by 12th-generation winemaker, Claude Giraud, the estate has some of the world’s most sought-after cuvées and the Argonne represents the star grapes from the best grand cru sites.
A zesty, youthful expression despite being over 10 years old, the Argonne will be in its prime from now up until around 2029.