We often tout a wide variety of sparkling wines from across the globe, and love to feature value bottlings across lesser-recognized categories of bubbly. But sometimes there’s no substitute for Champagne.
Though Champagne can come with a high price tag, the budget-minded drinker shouldn’t be intimidated by the cost of a 100-point Krug. Affordable bottles from France’s most famous region can be had for $40 and under. So next time you think you can’t have a glass while enjoying popcorn and Netflix, try one of these 10 highly-rated Champagnes, and indulge without splurging.
Recommended Everyday Champagnes
Baron-Fuenté 2008 Millésime Brut (Champagne); $30, 92 points. This Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier blend is perfectly ready to drink with fine mature fruit, layers of toast and tangy spice. From a very good Champagne vintage, it’s rich while having plenty of acidity to allow it to age further. —Roger Voss
Fluteau 2008 Cuvée Symbiose Brut (Champagne); $40, 92 points. This impressive Champagne is rich while tight and mineral-textured. Creamy and ripe, it balances the weight of Pinot Noir with the elegance of Chardonnay. The producer’s location in the relatively warm Aube region gives its wines extra fullness. This one is just now ready to drink.
Vollereaux NV Blanc de Blancs Brut Chardonnay (Champagne); $37, 91 points. The blend of delightfully crisp wine is based around three years of reserve wines. It is creamy, with just a hint of toastiness. The acidity and ripe apple combine well with this touch of bottle age to give a wine that is ready to drink. —R.V.
Canard-Duchêne NV Cuvée Léonie Brut (Champagne); $30, 90 points. As with many of this firm’s Champagnes, Pinot Noir is the dominant grape in the blend. Named after Léonie Duchêne, one of the founders of the house, it is smooth and rich in ripe white fruit and melon flavors. Tang at the end gives a delicious lift. —R.V.
Thiénot NV Brut (Champagne); $35, 90 points. Crisp in sliced green-apple fruit, this Champagne is ripe, although on the dry side, giving plenty of acidity and a textured aftertaste. The bottling has some age, so it is deliciously ready to drink. —R.V.
Devaux NV Grand Réserve Brut (Champagne); $39, 90 points. Based in the southern Champagne Aube region, this producer offers a reserve cuvée that is ripe and full of fruit, with tangy acidity and a crisp texture. It offers good balance between lime and apple fruits and a richer character that makes it a great apéritif style. This bottling is ready to drink. Editor’s Choice. —R.V.
Henri Abele NV Brut (Champagne); $40, 90 points. This wine highlights a balanced blend of the three Champagne grapes. In the house style of Henri Abele, it is ripe, with a tight mineral edge that gives a crisp aftertaste enhanced by lemon, pink grapefruit and touch of spice. Drink this attractive bottling now. —R.V.
Gremillet NV Selection Brut (Champagne); $40, 89 points. A blend of up to five different vintages go into this ripe, full and fruity Champagne. It has a touch of maturity, vibrant acidity and crisp lemon-like fruit. It’s fresh and ready to drink. —R.V.
Charlier & Fils NV Brut Carte Noire (Champagne); $35, 88 points. Eight months of oak aging gives this wine its spicy, lightly toasty character. Ripe red apple and grapefruit flavors add to its richness. Finely balanced, it’s ready to drink now. —R.V.
Monthuys Père et Fils NV Brut Réserve (Champagne); $33, 88 points. This is a balanced blend of the three major Champagne grapes from a producer in the Marne Valley. With its high proportion of Pinot Meunier, it has a soft and rich character. Attractive and fruity, it’s ready to drink. —R.V.