Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV
Retail price: $40-45
Available at Fine Wine Cellars, in Stowe, Vermont ($40/bottle), and at Wine Exchange, in Orange, California, ($45/bottle)
Are any French wines as revered worldwide as champagne? Bordeaux and Burgundy may have their fanatical collectors, but it’s the bubbly that gets popped at weddings and New Year’s celebrations, douses sports teams after their championship win, and kicks off the party with rappers and wannabes at nightclubs.
Like fashion icon Coco Chanel, I only drink champagne on two occasions: when I am in love and when I am not. Or perhaps more like Madame Bollinger, the late eponymous owner and director of the Bollinger Champagne house, I never touch Champagne—unless I’m thirsty. I’m of the belief that Champagne should be consumed to celebrate any occasion, whether wedding or birthday, or just getting home after a long day of work and a bad commute. Was there ever a more soothing sound than the popping of a Champagne cork?
But just as all that glitters is not gold, not all bubbly is Champagne. Champagne can only come from the region of the same name in France and must be made in the méthode champenoise, which includes a second fermentation in bottle to produce the CO2 bubbles. That’s right: each champagne bottle is its own individual fermentation vessel, a little Tiffany jewel box waiting to be opened, anticipating your delight. The rest is just sparkling wine, folks.
Unfortunately, champagne prices do not always delight. Some vintage champagnes, such as Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay, retail for several thousand dollars a bottle. Even nonvintage (NV) champagnes, also known as multivintage (MV), can be several hundred dollars a bottle, especially if spotted in the latest Jay-Z video. But fear not, mes amis, there is plenty of well-priced bubbly out there, including this month’s wine, the Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV.
As the name implies, the Blanc de Blancs is made of 100 percent chardonnay, and Delamotte’s chardonnay vineyards are all located in the grand cru villages of champagne’s famous Côte des Blancs. I prefer my champagnes to be on the dry side rather than with too much residual sugar; the Delamotte has a crisp dryness bordering on herbaceous. While there’s still the toasty brioche, chalky minerality, lift of lemon and hint of honey found in most great champagnes, there’s also a touch of spearmint in the nose and on the palate.
Pair it with something salty: champagne goes just as well with potato chips as caviar. As the Brits know, savor it with strawberries and whipped cream and get ready to watch Wimbledon. One of my favorite pairings is with gougères, those airy poufs of cheesy goodness; the delicate acidity of the Delamotte is a perfect foil to the Gruyère and pâte à choux.
Whether in love or not, thirsty or not, I always reach for a bottle of bubbly to start off an evening. And just like champagne, I am always ready to celebrate any occasion—but rarely last until the party’s end.
Editor’s note: Food and wine lovers heading to Paris might want to try one of the Girls’ Guide’s favorite cooking classes in Paris.