Weekend Wine: Sparkling Wines for the Holidays
Finally: the high-priced stuff
By Wes Marshall,
6:08AM, Fri. Dec. 30, 2022
There are only a very few wines on earth that I would spend over $75 on. But then I admit to being odd for a wine lover; plenty oenophiles would gladly part with 100 times that price for a bottle of French wine.
For instance, I interviewed a wealthy scriptwriter for a book I was doing and I asked him what he drank as a house wine. He started mentioning wines that run up over $1,000 a bottle and I said, “No, you know, house wines, like the daily stuff.” He told me that he had the money so he spent it on wine. Personally, even if I had the money, that’s just too much.
I will however tell you the truth and that is the one lavish expenditure I occasionally make on wine is for Champagne. So if 2022 left you particularly flush, or you just love great wines, I would like to recommend four wines from two makers.
The first winemaker is Ruinart. There’s a white and a rosé that are magnificent examples of Ruinart’s wine. The less expensive wine, Ruinart Blanc de Blanc ($80), is actually a bargain at the price. It is their wine made solely from Chardonnay, and its combination of tart acidity and floral richness makes it an ideal match with all white-fleshed seafood.
My favorite of all is Dom Ruinart Rosé ($400). It is devilishly hard to find. They only make it in exceptional years and the last vintage was 2007. If and when they release another vintage, expect it to have gone up quite a bit. It is quite dry and loaded with exotic aromas like tangerine skins and paper white flowers. This is perfect with big fish like tuna or swordfish. If the price doesn’t scare you off, K&L Wine Merchants on the web seem to have cornered the last supply in the U.S.
Finally, two wines from Perrier-Jouët. Some folks think the Perrier-Jouët painted bottle and boxed gift sets are corny, but I can assure you the wine is quite special. Their best wine is the opposite of Dom Ruinart. Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Blanc de Blancs ($400) is elegant, it’s sophisticated, and – if any wine can make the claim – it’s sexy. Their Perrier-Jouët Belle Époque Brut ($190) costs less and is often on sale at a nice savings during this season. It is a consistently great bottle of wine.
By the way, one item you will hear about at these prices is grower Champagne. The term means that the person who grows the grapes makes the wine. Champagne houses usually make way more wine than they can grow, so they buy grapes from vineyards they trust. Many of these have had generations-long contracts, so the relationships have some meaning. Nonetheless, grower Champagnes have occasional magic and wine geeks love to get really geeky about tiny wineries that no one has ever heard of. I won't try to advise you, but I do encourage you to ask for a recommendation from someone at your favorite store that honestly knows their wine. You might discover a miracle.