Whether your budget is generous or cautious, the gift of Champagne always pleases. Given most Champagne consumed in the United States is of the non-vintage variety, nobody (unless you’re Secret Santa partner is Kanye) will take offense to a non-vintage stocking-stuffer. In fact, the C-word bears enough gravitas to surprise and delight most recipients. That being said, non-vintage doesn’t mean the wine is a lesser product – or necessarily cheaper than vintage wines. Champagne comes in a range of styles; non-vintage simply means several older vintages are blended with a percentage of the current vintage to make the final product. After all, Champagne, more than any other wine, embodies the art of blending.
Here are 8 Non-Vintage Champagnes Worth Gifting
Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, SRP $99
LP’s Cuvée Rosé is an example of an exquisite non-vintage proving that a great Champagne is indeed the sum of its parts. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, the house blends 10 different crus found across the southern and northern swathes of the Montagne de Reims. The Pinot-heavy area of Côte de Bouzy comprises a significant chunk of the fruit. After blending and bottling, the wine rests in the cellar for 5 years, developing complexity, breadth and toasty, brioche goodness. On the nose and palate, find lively red berry fruits (think raspberry, cherry) and a long, vibrant finish. The beautiful presentation box means you can skip the wrapping paper on this one.
At the other end of the price spectrum, Nicolas Feuillatte hits the affordable Champagne niche out of the park with its NV Brut Réserve. Though the SRP runs in the 30s, online retailers give this away for as low as $26.95. You can snag four bottles for the price of one LP. Of course, these are wildly different wines for different occasions. Still the Feuillatte scores high for its creamy mousse laced through with lemon curd, honey, and spice. Advise friends to drink soon. Preferably with you.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois NV, SRP $85
Champagne hounds adore the wines of Billecart-Salmon for good reason: the house has been around since 1818 when Nicolas François Billecart married Elisabeth Salmon. Their union led to the creation of Maison Billecart-Salmon in Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, the family’s town. Thus, they’ve had over two hundred years to perfect their craft. This unique cuvée, which is entirely vinified in oak, is composed of the three classic grapes. This wine tastes like the holidays with baked apple, spiced pear, nuts and fresh-baked pastry dough.
Bruno Paillard Dosage Zéro MV, SRP $65
Known as the DZ cuvée, zero dosage refers to the producer’s choice to eschew the addition of a liqueur d’expedition (a mix of sugar and wine) just after disgorgement. Historically, Champagne houses add a varying level of sweetener measured in grams per liter, called dosage. Dosage helps balance a wine if it’s too tart or redirect the style altogether. Some think of dosage as a “seasoning” akin to salt. However, recent trends have seen an increase in no dosage wines for several reasons. To know more, read my detailed article. Otherwise, trust me when I say the BP DZ MV (multi-vintage is house lingo for NV) a good example for exploring this category. On the palate, the wine has a fine mousse loaded with white fruits and almond. No dosage wines tend to be leaner and more linear than classic brut styles, and the BP DZ is no exception. Consequently, extra aging, between three to four years, helped broaden the palate.
Palmer & Co has a great backstory as a top cooperative Champagne house capable of producing interesting wines from great fruit sourced from 350 growers. The cooperative was founded in 1947 as Producteurs des Grands Crus de Champagne by seven growers in Avize. The Brut Réserve is the flagship of the house, the fruit for it sourced from Premier and Grand Crus from the Montagne de Reims. The house also has robust reserve wine program contributing richness and breadth to this bottling. Expect notes of citrus, pear, and apricot aromas, a result of the classic trio of grapes included in the blend. Buttery brioche shows off the wine’s four years aging on the lees.
Rather than pick from the large houses that dominate the American Champagne market, industry pros gravitate towards this family grower-producer for special occasions. The family vineyards occupy choice sites in the villages of Mesnil sur Oger, Oger, Cramant and Avize or the “Côte des Blancs” which is prime Chardonnay country. If the Champagne lover on your gift list prefers racy, elegant blanc de blancs styles, then she’ll appreciate this NV, especially since you can snag a bottle for $55. Look for notes of citrus peel, pastry cream, apple and brioche on the vibrant, long finish.
For the Champagne enthusiast who has seen it all, slip them the gift of de Venoge. The unusual – and gorgeous — shape of the bottle references a 19th-century crystal carafe. Once consumed, use for single stem roses? Of course, the bubbles inside are why you’re really buying this wine. The fruit is a blend of crus from the Montagne de Reims with a few parcels from les Riceys. Being a blanc de noirs, the wine is 100% Pinot Noir. On the palate, the style errs towards dry despite being labeled brut. Fresh yet deeply layered, the nose and palate brim with raspberry, cherry, spice and toasty notes, the finish rich and satisfying.
Ruinart boasts the honor of being the first Champagne house established in the region. Beneath the property sit magnificent chalk caves dating back to Roman times; they are still used for the storage and aging of wines plus consumer tours. Founded in 1729, the wines have been enjoyed by all manner of celebrity across centuries, from kings Louis XV and Louis XVI to contemporary royalty — movie stars. The blanc de blancs made from 100% Chardonnay has long been a charmer, with Premier Cru fruit sourced from the Côte des Blancs and Montagne de Reims. Though I’m recommending the NV, don’t hold back if you find the Dom Ruinart Rosé 2007. Expect a vibrant nose brimming with stone fruit and ginger spice, followed by a palate taut with citrus peel, spice and minerality.