Why You Should Sip Champagne
Veuve Clicquot’s cellar master Dominique Demarville reveals five reasons why Champagne should be your sparkler of choice during the holidays.
1.) The taste is in the terroir
“Champagne is so well known in the world of sparkling wine because it has this purity, an elegance, a finesse,” says Demarville, who attributes such characteristics to the region’s terroir. “The cool climate allows us to keep enough acidity in the grapes. The acidity provides the wines with lightness and freshness.”
2.) For nonvintage Champagne, it’s all in the blend
“Blending is key to get the consistency of nonvintage,” says Demarville, adding, “Blending several parcels together, blending several years together, we can make very structured, complex wines.” To achieve the consistency of Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow Label, Demarville uses between 400–500 wines (some of which date back to 1988) to craft the blend. “It’s not the same recipe year in and year out,” he says. “We select the wines according to their finesse, structure, length, intensity and potential of aging.”
3.) The longer the aging, the finer the wine
Some sparkling wine regions like Cava in Spain mandate that the entry-level selections only need to age for 9 months before release. But in Champagne, nonvintage bottlings require a 15-month minimum. The more time the wine spends aging on the lees, the more “brioche and light toasty flavors” are developed, says Demarville. He ages his sparking for a minimum of 2–3 years before releasing it “to get all of the intensity, all of the richness, all of the complexity.”
4.) A favorite of foods
“The light bubbles in Champagne are helpful in pairing, as they keep the palate fresh and always open to the food,” says Demarville. But that’s not Champagne’s only lure as a go-to food wine. Champagne comes in an array of styles and sweetness levels—ranging from blanc de blancs to rosé and from bone-dry brut nature to decadent doux—which allows Champagne to pair easily with a full meal, starting with amuse-bouche and ending with dessert.
5.) Celebration is in the bubbles
Nothing says festivities like a flute of bubbling Champagne. “It’s wonderful to know that our wines are drunk by people when they enjoy life,” says Demarville “Most people who are drinking sparkling wines [are doing so] because they are celebrating something, and it means people are celebrating more and more.”
Dominique Demarville’s Top Five Holiday Sips
At his holiday gatherings, the celebrated winemaker wouldn’t mind if these bottles graced the table.
1. Veuve Clicquot NV Yellow Label
2. Cloudy Bay 2010 Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough)
3. Domaine du Vieux Telegraph 1985 Châteauneuf-du-Pape
4. Château d’Yquem 1967 Sauternes
5. Veuve Clicquot 2004 La Grande Dame Brut