5 Pricey — And Delicious — Champagnes for New Year's Eve And Beyond

There was a lot to celebrate in 2021, including the cryptocurrency market coming into its own and making millionaires seemingly overnight that balanced out the downside, such as the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

But, to be honest, we probably have been ready for 2022 for a while.

A tradition that hasn’t been tarnished is kicking off a bright shiny new year — or any celebration — with Champagne.

But what to buy?

First, let’s start with what Champagne is and isn’t. Champagne can only come from the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wine is everywhere else. For example, prosecco (Italy), cava (Spain), sekt (Germany) and crément (other parts of France) are not Champagne, but sparkling wine.

Many purveyors of Champagne also make sparkling wines, many in California, that are lower in price.

Then there are the varieties, from driest to sweetest: Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra-Dry (or Extra-Sec), Dry (or Sec), DemiSec and Doux.

To find out what the most expensive Champagnes are to buy or order at a restaurant, Benzinga turned to an expert: Braithe Tidwell, sommelier and beverage director of Brennan’s restaurant in New Orleans. The restaurant received Wine Spectator magazine’s Grand Award in 2021, indicating it as having an extraordinary wine program.

Here are Tidwell's top 5 expensive Champagnes to ring in the new year, celebrate whatever successes you may have had in 2021 or save for 2022. She has also thrown in a few other tête de cuvées, the best champagne a grower can produce, because yes, you deserve it.

1. Dom Pérignon

Tidwell chose this classic champagne for her No. 1 pick.

Produced by Möet & Chandon, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA LVMUY, the champagne is named after the monk of whom it was said when he had his first sip declared, “Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!”

Right now, Tidwell has a Dom Pérignon Rosé Luminous, 2000 vintage, for $2,200.

2. Louis Roederer Cristal

The Champagne was first created for Alexander II of Russia. Fearing assassination on a trip to France in 1867, he demanded Roederer make champagne to be placed in a clear bottle to see if it was adulterated or if there was a bomb underneath it.

Tidwell said this champagne, along with Dom Pérignon, are often what people choose first. Brennan’s now has a magnum, vintage 2004, for $1,400.

3. Krug Clos d’Amonnay Blanc de Noirs

The House of Krug, also owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy, was founded in 1843. What makes this wine so distinctive, in particular the 1998 vintage that Tidwell picked, is that it is made on a tiny plot of land in Ambonnay that produces pinot noir grapes.

The bottle at Brennan’s is for sale for $8,500.

4. Salon

This champagne is produced by Delamotte (part of Laurent-Perrier and traded on Euronext as LPE), one of the oldest houses in Champagne, founded in 1760.

Brennan’s has a couple different vintages, but right now has a 1995 for $2,700.

5. Bollinger La Grand Année

Known as “Bolly” over in the U.K., this family-owned champagne house was founded in 1829. It is also available as a rosé.

Tidwell said Brennan’s has a 2007 for $350.

And, here are two that are a tad more affordable: Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame and Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was a huge fan of champagne and of Pol Roger in particular, which is why the vintner named one of its champagnes after him. “Champagne is the wine of civilization and the oil of government,” were among the quotes about the bubbly attributed to him.

Size matters — Nebuchadnezzar is not just the name of the ship in “The Matrix”: Unlike most alcoholic beverages, champagne bottle sizes have unique names, the largest bottles names after Biblical figures.

The standard bottle of champagne holds 75 centiliters. There are smaller and larger bottles than those listed below, but for simplicity, these are the best known.

  • Magnum: 1.5 liters, or 2 bottles
  • Jeroboam: 3 liters or 4 bottles
  • Methuselah: 6 liters or 8 bottles
  • Salmanazar: 9 liters or 12 bottles
  • Balthazar: 12 liters, or 16 bottles
  • Nebuchadnezzar: 15 liters, or 20 bottles

Image by Matej Tomazin from Pixabay

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