December 28, 2020

A Brief Guide to Buying Champagne

by Jordan Michelman, Eater, Dec 28, 2020

I love Champagne — the way it smells, tastes, and bubbles up while I’m enjoying a nice full glass. As we stride toward the time of year (and what a year) when Americans consume the most Champagne, there are decisions to be made, should we all be so lucky: namely, which bottle to pick?

The Best House Champagne to Gift to Wine Geeks

You might almost forget this was coming from a Champagne house; Jacquesson gives off big grower Champagne vibes and feels more like the work of focused individuals — the Chiquet brothers, who have overseen the house since the 1980s — than some vast megacorp. Among wine writers, somms, and bottle shop owners, Jacquesson has a certain kind of wine geek cachet, for both the annual numbered releases and the house’s limited-edition single-vineyard bottlings (lieu-dit), which are far more expensive.

For the year 2000 vintage, Jacquesson retired its NV “Perfection Brut” bottling in favor of an ever-changing numbered cuvee based on individual vintage years. The first release was 728; we are now up to 742, a wine built from the 2014 vintage, receiving a scant 1.5 grams per liter of dosage.

At $70, give or take, the wine had better be awesome, and Jacquesson 742 definitely is. There’s a ton of richness in this wine, a kind of marzipan praline thing that reminds me of a Manhattan candied-street-nut vendor but offset by a big splash of herbal tea: chamomile, dried carrot, and especially mint tea, like how they serve it at cafes in Europe, full up to the brim of the mug with hot water.

If you’re giving Champagne as a gift this year, 742 would make an especially fine one. This wine can happily be drunk immediately, but it can also hang out for the next special occasion or be forgotten by the recipient over the next several years — it’s built to age and will only grow more complex and complete with time.

[Note from us at Vintage ’59: Cuvée 743 was released earlier this year and both cuvées may be found in the US.]

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