Retailer Wine Selections

The Beverage Dynamics National Retailer Wine Panel recommends a lineup of top quality/value champagnes and sparkling wines.

With the holiday selling season upon us, for this issue we asked members of the National Retailer Wine Panel to recommend their favorite champagnes and sparkling wines. As always, these selections include brief tasting notes, a rating and the wine’€™s retail price (which varies from store to store and market to market). If you’€™re a retail beverage professional who would like to learn about participating in our panel, call Richard Brandes at 212-353-3832, or email him at


‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (96) Champagne Henriot Blanc Souverain Pur Chardonnay Brut NV (France). A world-class champagne; for a blanc de blancs, the wine has a true golden color, the nose is fresh tree fruit, and it’€™s amazing in the glass; the palate is dominated by mouth-filling McIntosh apple, with great weight and balancing acidity; an outstanding bottle to enjoy and savor for any event. ($55)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (95) Champagne Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1999 (France). No wonder Pol Roger was Winston Churchill’€™s favorite champagne; this blend of 60% of pinot noir and 40% chardonnay shows wonderful texture and focus; he gold color, stone fruit with toasty/yeasty notes on the nose, and the richly elegant flavors and mouthfeel all indicate superb quality and finesse; the wine waltzes across the palate, with vigor and charm. ($95)


‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (95) Taittinger Nocturne NV (France). An off-dry sparkler that is stunning; a big yeasty bouquet gives way to beautiful, delicate citrus and peach flavors; a long complex finish completes the package. ($150)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) Charles Heidsieck 1995 Blanc des Millénaires (France). Light bodied and complex with flavors of honeycomb, flowers, brioche, minerals and even coffee and smoke; a great special occasion wine. ($90)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) A. Margaine Premier Cru Demi-Sec (France). Absolute elegance in a demi-sec ‘€“ well balanced, delicate, not syrupy and a whisper of sweetness; a pleasure to enjoy by itself or with light fruit desserts. ($56)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) Champagne Piper-Heidsieck Cuvée Brut N.V. (France). Even though this wine is comprised of over three-quarters black grapes, it shows a great deal of elegance and lightness; the pale yellow gold color and stone fruit nose is followed by a bright citrus-dominated palate; a long finish with the lively freshness continuing for some time. ($33)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) Fallet Dart Brut Champagne 2002 (France). Powerful and rich with bracing acidity, this is an amazing vintage champagne that will age or provide pleasure now; made from 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir. ($75)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) Ruinart NV Rosé (France). Premier Crus pinot noir and chardonnay blend; the glass explodes with hints of small red berries; the finish is fresh and bright with a hint of spice. ($70)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) Taittinger Prelude Champagne Brut (France). Amazing nose; wonderful expression of floral and mineral with considerable weight; 50% pinot noir and 50% chardonnay from all Grand Cru vineyards; rich on the palate, but also racy; ultimately elegant and very fine. ($85)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (93) Dom Perignon 1998 (France). Pale yellow in color showing a light toasty aroma with notes of grapefruit and almond; lively with a satin smooth texture and a beautiful, long finish. ($140)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Mumm Blanc de Blancs de Cramant (France). Medium-bodied with a lovely earthy, yeasty bouquet; citrus notes on the mid-palate followed by a long, dry, earthy finish. ($90)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee NV (France). Pretty gold color; big, clean bright fruit nose; dry but not austere, crisp fruit, with a long yeasty finish. ($90)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Tattinger Brut La Francaise (France). Lush and creamy with a medium-dry finish that lingers; the structure says that some bottle age will complete this package. ($49.99)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Roederer Estate Brut NV Anderson Valley (California). Intense, genuinely complex effort sports a lovely mix of toasty yeast and lemony fruit from its expansive aromas to its very long and very rich flavors. ($25)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé NV (France). With 90% of this wine produced from pinot noir and pinot meunier, the color is more salmon than pin; the nose is dominated by red berry fruit, and yeasty hints; on the palate, it is refreshingly dry with the fruit characteristics echoing the nose, with good weight and luscious notes; the finish is long and lingering. ($50)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Veuve Clicquot Rosé NV (France). Very pretty color with nice fruit; delicate strawberry and yeasty flavors on the palate; very approachable and delicious for drinking now. ($65)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (92) Dienhard Lila Riesling Sekt Brut (Germany). Delicate, elegant and soft with dazzling, continuous bubbles; a creamy mouthfeel leads to hints of apple, melon and minerality. ($14)


‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (91) Louis Roederer Brut Premier (France). Light straw color; nice intensely peachy nose; medium-bodied with great fruit/acid/toast balance and a long flavorful finish. ($45)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (91) Weingut Michlits Pinot Noir Rose 2008 (Austria). Bright; crisp fruit that tastes like pinot noir; great as an aperitif or with a simple roast chicken for a super celebration; and it’€™s organic! ($18)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (91) Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2005 (California). This sparkling wine is wonderfully balanced, offering hints of tropical fruit, apple and some toasty nuts; a refreshing finish makes this a perfect warm-up to any dinner. ($37)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (91) Pacific Rim ‘€œWhite Flowers’€ Sparkling Brut Riesling (Washington State). Bright apple riesling notes in the aroma give way to Granny Smith apple flavors that last way into the finish; soft, dry round finish; it’€™s like an Alsacian riesling with bubbles. ($16)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Champagne Nicholas Feuillatte Brut NV (France). There are not any huge dominant characteristics, but the subtle sweetness and citrus flavors bring everything together for a satisfying experience. ($40)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Champagne Duval-Leroy Brut N.V. (France). Real champagne; toasty, yeasty and robust, with hypnotic bubbles; a long, bone-dry finish. ($44)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Cristalino Rosé Brut (Spain). All the Cristalino cavas are ‘€œmetodo tradicional’€; the rose is especially interesting; aromatic and flavorful with hints of strawberry and cherry; not totally dry; great for brunch. ($10)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) J Cuvee 20 Brut NV (California). Gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas; on the palate it mixes apple, grapefruit and a sweet hint of angel food cake; the acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering, lush, warm pear finish. ($22)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Mumm Napa Brut Prestige NV (California). A hugely popular sparkling wine with aromas of yeast and flint with fruit notes in the background; beautifully aged flavors of baked apple and flint are seamlessly integrated and deftly delivered; long, dry, yeasty finish. ($19)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Argyle Brut (Oregon). Vibrant, creamy, refined, elegant and crisp, with just a hint of yeasty toastiness. ($25)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Ed Hardy Sparkling Rose (France). Spectacular package; light fruit flavors with tiny bubbles; hints of strawberry and watermelon; good balance and finish; a holiday value. ($15)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Schramsberg Blanc de Noirs 2006 (California). Complex aromas of apple, cinnamon and roasted hazelnuts; rich flavors including strawberry, baked apple, pineapple and lime; lively finish with zesty citrus notes. ($37)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Thorn-Clarke Brut Reserve NV South Australia (Australia). Yeasty bread dough aromas are soft and supple and there is a lightly sweet hint of crème brûlée; a nice balance of its varietals (56% pinot noir, 44% chardonnay), with a full mouthfeel and good structure, along with complex fruit flavors that slowly unfold across the palate; excellent weight on the finish and a clean aftertaste. ($21)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Mumm Carte Classique (France.) Toasty pineapple, honeyed apricots and lemon tart flavors carry an undertone of earthiness along for the ride through the elegant structure and delicate finish.


‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (90) Gruet Blanc de Noirs NV (New Mexico). Very pale color; extreme amount of fine bubbles and nice long mousse thanks to methode champenoise; the earthy flavor of green apple skins gives way to the tartness of a honey crisp apple. ($17)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Tissot Cremant du Jura (France). Blend of pinot noir and chardonnay; rich and earthy, with enough bread dough and power to make you think you have real champagne; affordable and delicious! ($21)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Zardetto Prosecco Brut (Italy).Bright and refreshing with flavors of apples, wildflowers, lemon and a hint of honey; well balanced with a crisp acidity, this sparkler pairs well with food. ($12)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Bisol Prosecco Brut NV ‘€œJeio’€ (Italy). Light citrus aromas pervade the bouquet, tinted with biscuit and a whiff of ginger snap; medium-full, the fruit flavors lean to citrus and white grape and the palate is plush and soft; plenty of acidity to keep it off-dry, and it stays soft into the aftertaste where succulent notes of peach nectar emerge. ($16.50)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Gruet Brut (New Mexico). Light straw color and loads of carbonation; Granny Smith apples and pears on the nose continue into the flavor, joined by grapefruit and pineapple; great palate cleanser to go with fatty dishes. ($15)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Domaine Caneros Brut 2005 Napa Valley (California). Apple aroma; flavors of lemon-lime and apple; crisp, clean finish. ($28)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) St. Hillaire Brut (France). Fresh, lively, crisp and dry; similar to top-quality non-vintage champagne at one-third the price; good value. ($14)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Graham Beck Brut NV (South Africa). The bouquet is quite fruity and has a lingering hint of just-kneaded bread dough; firm and crisp on the palate entry, ripe citrus flavors slowly unfold, turning toward sweet apple toward the finish; mpressive body and structure. ($15)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (89) Pascual Toso Brut NV Mendoza (Argentina). Displays a surprisingly sweet bouquet for 100% chardonnay, with aromas of applesauce and ripe pear; with time, some light bread dough notes emerge; tart and dry on the entry, those ripe fruit notes turn sharper and crisper as some citrus melds in, along with fresh peach and apricot flavors near the finish; medium bodied and persistent. ($10)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (88) Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Brut Champagne (California). A nice surprise; Mondavi’€™s new release into the sparkling segment offers quite a bit of flavor without a high price tag; green apples, pear and lemon with a hint of vanilla and honey make this sparkling wine a wonderful value. ($12)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (88) Totus Tuus Cava NV (Spain). Blend of chardonnay, xarel-lo, macabeo, parellada and pinot noir; dry and rich with a great element of earth and mineral; clean and well-balanced; a good value! ($15)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (88) Barefoot Cellars Brut Cuvée NV (California). A ‘€œsofter’€ style of brut sparkling wine, this chardonnay-dominated blend performs surprisingly well; the bead is medium fine, and shows apple/pear notes on the nose and palate; the finish is medium long; considering it can sometimes be found under the $10 suggested retail price, it reflects an outstanding value. ($10)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (88) Domaine Ste Michelle Blanc de Blancs (Washington State). A wonderfully balanced and tasty sparkler with creamy effervescence; the chardonnay shows through with tropical fruit and hints of apple; a notable value. ($13)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (88) Bo Rivage Brut Blanc de Blancs NV (France). There are plenty of sweet fruit aromas in the bouquet along with a whiff of biscuit; tart green apple flavors dominate the palate and it stays crisp and clean, with a moderate finish; a value-conscious sparkler that should prove quite versatile. ($10)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (87) Hacienda Brut (California). Big apricot nose from this affordable fun sparkler; strong stone fruit notes in the flavor; nice long finish. ($12)

‘€¢’€¢’€¢’€¢ (86) Brickstone Cellars Brut Finger Lakes (New York). Medium dry with a complex bouquet of toast and floral nuances, this sparkling wine from the Finger Lakes district is crisp with flavors of apple and pear and a refreshing finish. ($7)


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