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10 Top Champagnes and Bubbles on a Budget

Here’s 10 Top Champagnes and Bubbles on a budget (using the traditional method).
 

[If you would like to learn about top Prosecco wines in all price categories click here.]

Here is a selection of some of our favourite (reasonably priced) Champagnes...

We realize that ‘reasonably priced’ is relative. But as Champagne is a luxury product, it will cost money. So here are some Champagnes that are at the lower end of the price spectrum and are still super high quality wines.

Scroll down to the top bubbles on a budget section for more options.

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Delamotte Brut Champagne
Price: $63 Canada | $45 USA

Gloriously creamy and crisp and the flavour lasts long in your mouth.  The style is elegant; the brioche, and macademia nuts are enveloped in lemon juice and white flowers. In fact, if you ever see any Delamotte on the shelves, it’s worth picking it up.

Their Vintage Champagnes (these are Champagnes that have a year mentioned on the front label) offer excellent value for the price too.

Why?

Delamotte is the sister property and neighbour of the famous and expensive Champagne house, Salon. Salon only makes Champagne in the top vintages which is rare. On the other years which is more frequent, the grapes go into making Delamotte.

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Pol Roger Réserve Brut
Price: $73 Canada | $40 USA

 

This is one of my favourite Non-Vintage. NV for short, non-vintage Champagnes do not have a year listed on their front label. The Pol Roger is more widely available than the Delamotte and offers that same crisp lemon juice finish.

This blend is known for having equal parts of all 3 Champagne grapes inside; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Yet, what gives it the most panache, is that they use 25% reserve wine in the blend.

Reserve wines are held back in Champagne cellars and aged for long periods of time. Because of the ageing, reserve wines are more complex and offer different fruit flavours (such as stewed apples) and creamier custardy-créme brulé notes as opposed to the fresh lemon notes of younger wines. They can also be richer in the mid-palate and nuttier (think almonds and macademia nuts). The addition of reserve wine is considered an important part of the final blend and house style of any finished Champagne wine.

And 25% is a LOT to add. For comparison, Moët & Chandon adds 10% (which is more common practice).

 

SommWine Tip

Pol Roger is famous for being the only Champagne house that still hand riddles all of their bottles during the ageing process (en français, remuage) [pronouned rem-ew-ahhj].

Riddling is the important winemaking stage of moving the dead lees (or yeasts) to the top of the bottle. Hand riddling is an expensive labour of love. Removing lees this way takes months. You will need a pupitre (shown in the photo above (left) to do this.

[What’s the difference between Prosecco, Champagne and Cava? Find out here.]

[The flute, the white wine glass, the coupe or the vintage flute; What’s the best wine glass for your bubbles?

This is a pupitre. It is the traditional device that Champagne producers use to 'riddle' the wines. Riddling is an important step to get the dead yeasts to fall to the top of the neck so they can be removed. Most places use a machine to do this now. However, Pol Roger still does this by hand! Each bottle is quarter turned every day.
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Louis Roederer Brut Premier
Price: $67 Canada | $39 USA

 

If you prefer richer, slightly more toasty Champagne’s, buy Louis Roederer Brut Premier featured here. The blend is 40% both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and just 20% Pinot Meunier.

Roederer ages the individual wines in oak tuns (large neutral oak casks) before blending. The oak tuns are very old so they don’t add obvious vanilla and spice notes. Instead, the tuns allow the slow ingress of air from the fine grains in the barrel and brings a mid-palate texture, a creaminess and roundness to the Champagne. Ageing Champagne in tuns makes it a bit richer and fuller.

Larmandier-Bernier 'Lattitude' 1er Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut
Price: $73 Canada | $55 USA

This is a grower’s Champange. A Grower-Champagne is a Champagne that is made by the people who grow the grapes. This is not common practice in the Champagne region. Most Champagnes are made by
large negociant houses, domaines who buy grapes from the 1000’s of other growers to produce their wines. In fact, there are over 20,000 growers in Champagne!

Larmandier Bernier is a husband and wife team (Pierre and Sophie Larmandier) who farm their vineyards biodynamically. See more on biodynamics in the next section.

This is also a 100% Chardonnay and that grape is known for making the most complex, ageworthy Champagnes. There is a very low dosage added to this wine making it one of the driest Champagnes in the market.

Dosage is the final step in the Champagne process where a little mixture of white wine, brandy and sugar or the ‘liqueur d’expedition’ is added to sweeten and finish the wine.

Why?

Because grapes for Champagne are grown in a cool marginal climate and picked early, they are quite tart and high in acidity. The ‘dosage’ adds a touch of sweetness to smooth out the flavour and balance the wine.
 

[Learn about the Beginning of French Wine Law in Champagne, Bordeaux, and Southern France here.]

What is biodynamic?

Biodynamic producers farm organically and without synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. They use organic, often homemade, preparations to fight vineyard diseases. In order to do this, biodynamic vineyards are usually entire farm ecosystems with many animals on site.

Taking a large step away from commercially produced Champagne, Sophie and Pierre keep yields down to a measly 50hl/ha which is less than half of what the maximum yield is in Champagne (maintaining low yields is considered one of the top tasks viticulturists can do to increase quality).

Top Bubbles on a Budget
And as Champagne is not in everyone’s budget. Here are some top bubbles at more affordable prices.

SommWine Tip

The top sparkling wines made in British Columbia, Canada are as good as Champagnes from France

Indeed, the top wines are and for a much lower price!

Why are they that good? Because the climate in British Columbia is similar to Champagne’s.

For example, the Mavety family at Blue Mountain Winery (featured below) has been making wine since the 1970’s. They age their sparkling wines for long periods before release and most of the line is vintage-dated.

So why are they less expensive than Champagne?

Blue Mountain sets the price.

Other great sparkling wine producers from British Columbia must use Blue Mountain wines as a price guide. Meaning, you can’t come onto the scene and charge more than Blue Mountain sparkling wines because they are the benchmark for the region.

And the Mavety family from Blue Mountain have been in business for a while. They keep their vintage-dated long-cellared Rosé, Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noir wines at $33-$39 a bottle. Their entry level ‘Gold Label’ Brut sells for $25 in Canada.

There are other great traditional method sparklers from BC.

What’s the catch?

Good luck getting your hands on these bottles. Not much is produced and they are high in demand. Try getting on one of the wine club lists of these producers to secure your supply!

But wait…!

Lightning Rock Canyonview Blancs de Noirs 2016, Okanagan Valley, BC Canada
Price: $34.99 Canada | Unavailable in the US

Just because this is a new sparkler on the market, doesn’t mean it’s from new hands! From winemaker Jordan Kubek and viticulturalist Tyler Knight. These ‘flying winemakers’ spent summers in Summerland working for Okanagan Crush Pad. They then maximized their experience by flying to the southern hemisphere to work vintages in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile.

This is an exciting wine. It’s made with 100% Pinot Noir, is dry and has aromas and flavours of red apples, underripe strawberries, lemon peel and pith, fresh struck matchsticks (from being made in the traditional method), dust and earth. It’s mouthwatering and juicy and has a long finish.

This is a natural wine that will appeal to natural wine naysayers (like me). It underwent a natural primary fermentation (which for traditional sparkling wines rarely goes well in my opinion).

[The first fermentation for sparkling wines generally needs to be fast and that requires cultured or bought yeasts. A quick and easy first fermentation is necessary because slow fermentations result in more flavours from the grapes – exactly what you don’t want in traditional method sparkling wine].

This wine has minimal sulfur additions and bottle unfiltered and unfined.

You can buy this wine in our 90+ Wine packs sold here.

[Want to buy the best BC wine online? Click here.]

[What are the best websites to order BC and Canadian Wine online? Click here.]

Blue Mountain Brut Rosé 2016, Okanagan Valley, BC Canada
Price: $35 Canada | $30 US

 

Blue Mountain Winery sparkling wines. I can’t believe the consistent quality the Mavety’s produce. Their family owned vineyards in Okanagan Falls have a large temperature range (or diurnal temperature range) between daytime and nighttime temperatures leading to incredible mouthwatering acidity throughout all of their wines.
 
Most of their sparklers sell out each year. Only top restaurants and wine shops who have formed long-term relationships with Blue Mountain vineyards get an ‘allocation’ of their wines each month or year.
 

You can purchase the rosé directly from the winery here or if they are sold out, you are more likely going to find their NV Gold label Brut through one of these websites here.

SommWine Tip

Crémant is the word for sparkling wines made in France outside of the Champagne region using the traditional method. Good crémants will start at $25 in Canada or $15 in the USA.

Crémant de Bourgogne wines (which are sparkling wines made in Burgundy) tend to be higher quality than say Crémant de Bordeaux (sparkling wines from the Bordeaux wine region).

But you can find crémants that are made in say Luxembourg which also offer amazing quality for lower prices than Champagne.

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Charles de Fère 'Cuvée Jean-Louis' Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, France (Crémant)
Price: $17 Canada | $9 USA

This amazing deal on decent quality is rare so scoop this up if you can find it.

Fortunately, it’s part of the Boisset collection of wines (basically, it’s owned by French family who own vineyards and wineries all over the world). That means it’s made by a large company and benefits from economies of scale so it is cheaper to get from vine to consumer. It also means you can find this wine all over the world.

No, the flavours are not as complex and long lasting in your mouth as a Champagne, but look at the price!

Cave de Lugny rosé

Cave de Lugny Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé
Price: $29 Canada | $17 USA

Yummy in my tummy! Lemon juice, tart berries and creamy froth!

My favourite from this producer is the rosé. However, they have a Brut as well which also has a great value to high quality ratio.

The northern part of Burgundy is actually not that far away from Champagne. They have very similar soils and climate.

You don’t see much Crémant de Bourgogne simply because the producers can make way more money by selling still wines made with 100% Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (the famed Bourgogne blanc and Bourgogne rouge wines of the Côte d’Or.)

SommWine Tip

Many sparkling wines made in the US are often just as expensive as Champagnes from France. But are they as good?

Are sparkling wines made in the USA as good as Champagnes from France?

Generally, nope, they’re not.

Because the climate in California is warmer than in Champagne; the fruit of the grapes grown there is a little riper and the acidity is lower.

Super steely high acidity is one marker of a great sparkling wine. American producers just don’t have the climate to attain that. Nor do they have the limestone soils that Champagne is famous for.

So why are they just as expensive as Champagne?

Many famous French Champagne houses invested heavily into buying land in Anderson Valley, Sonoma and Carneros in California. Chandon (from Moët & Chandon), Tattinger, Roederer Estate (from Louis Roederer), Piper Sonoma (from Piper-Heidsieck) are all estates in California.

The French are the first to admit that the climate of California and the soil there are not as well-suited for making great sparkling wines. 

But they keep the prices high so as not to put a dent in their French Champagne sales.

Still, there are some bargains to be found and of course, we’ll share them here.

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Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs Brut
Price: $60 Canada | $29 USA

This is a great value if you live in the US.

Unfortunately, as these wines are imported into Canada, they become the same price as entry-level Champagnes.

Are they as good as Champagne? In my opinion, almost. Schramsberg is one of the top sparkling wine producers from the US especially in that price point.

Truly, it’s a matter of personal taste whether you prefer Champagne from France or sparkling wine from the US.

If you find Chamapagnes to be too tart and sour, you may prefer a sparkling wine from Schramsberg in California instead.

Chandon b de Noirs

Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs Brut
Price: $27 Canada | $17 USA

This is the American arm of the esteemed Moët et Chandon Grand Marques Champagne house of France.

The Blanc de Noirs is made with 100% Pinot Noir grapes and is a consistent wine at a great price every year. BUY IT!

What’s the last great bubbles you purchased on a budget? We’d love you to share your comments below!

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