When I opened my email this morning, I came across a wine buyer's alert that I thought was worth passing along: Veuve Clicquot NV Brut for $35.99 today and tomorrow only (November 24 and 25) at World Market. This is a wine that ordinarily retails for $45 to $50 or more (although I do note prices similar to the World Market price at this time in other areas of the country).
Let me say that I have no commercial ties to World Market nor to any retailer, wholesaler, distributor or importer of wine. I am merely your ultimate wine consumer who cannot pass up a good deal and has a cellar full of wine to show for it. I am fighting the impulse to rush out and buy a couple of bottles myself, not because I have a need for it this holiday season but just in case a Champagne lover might some day come knocking on my door asking for dinner and a glass of high-quality Champagne. Or in case someone in my family asks for advice about a special bottle to give a friend for an anniversary or wedding present. My cellar is full of "just-in-case" bottles. Isn't that what a wine cellar is all about?
As you think about bubblies for the holidays, there is no requirement that you focus on Champagne (sparkling wine grown and produced by the traditional method in the Champagne region of France), although it is the "real thing" and I know nothing that comes close to it in quality or pleasure. The big houses, of course, are Roederer, Veuve Clicquot, Krug, Bollinger, etc., and they command a premium price based on a long-standing reputation. I usually prefer grower Champagnes such as Jacquesson, Barnaut, Coutier Ambonnay and Pierre Moncuit. These are, in my opinion, a bit higher in quality and a bit lower in price, but still usually retail for $40 or more.
The next level down--at $15 to $30 a bottle--include California selections such as Domaine Chandon, Schramsberg, Piper-Sonoma and Roederer Estate. At that price level, I would add Larry Mawby's Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs from the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan. And I have read positive reviews of Gruet Brut from New Mexico.
When serving a large group, though, I never hesitate popping a Spanish Cava--Cristalino Brut, Segura Viudas or Freixenet. For less than $10 a bottle, these are authentic Methode Champenoise wines (fermented and aged in the bottle rather than a huge tank) that give plenty of pleasure. If you tasted them side-by-side with Veuve Clicquot or Roederer Brut, you would understand the difference in price. But at a New Year's Eve party or Thanksgiving dinner, who cares?