Champagne, named after France's most northerly and coolest wine region, embodies the dramatic metamorphosis of an originally lean and acidic still wine into the microscopic fireworks display in a sparkling glass wand of tiny bubbles of light, pure magic.
Three grape varieties, two black and one green, may be used in Champagne. The black skins are removed after crushing so only the pure colourless juice is used. Pinot Noir gives richness, fruitiness is delivered by Meunier, while Chardonnay adds a feminine apple delicacy and elegance.
Always serve chilled to dissolve the natural fermentation gases trapped into the wine that create the bubbles. When opened, maintain the chill to sustain the fizz. Food match with shell fish and smoked salmon, and it's surprisingly good with blue cheese. We blind taste-tested 20 Champagnes and the most heavenly seven are featured here.
Thank you for your company in 2015 and looking forward to finding more and varied drinks for you in 2016. Happy New Year!
1) Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut 12pc
Luminous pale gold background against a blizzard of tiny bubbles. Rich bouquet of freshly kneaded dough and a palate of brioche with a hint of apricot jam. Seductive.
€55 in most off-licences this Christmas season including O'Brien's, nationwide and in Dublin: Mitchell's, IFSC and Glasthule and Wines on the Green, Dawson Street.
2) Veuve Monsigny Brut No. lll 12pc
Attractive biscuity aromas with very tasty rich biscuit palate from over five years gaining complexity aging on its lees.
€19.99 at Aldi nationwide.
3) Comte de Senneval Brut 12.5pc
Trinity blend of grapes with a pronounced darkly toasted bread bouquet. Delicious yeasty character with a lemony tart finish.
€19.99 at Lidl nationwide.
4) Jean Comyn Harmonie Brut 12pc
Complex bouquet of autumn leaves, acorns and digestive biscuits. Fresh baguette and lemon acidity flavours.
€30 from €34.99 at Molloy's Liquor Stores Dublin citywide and molloys.ie until mid-January, while stocks last
5) Louis Roederer Brut Premier 12pc
Crumbled Marietta biscuit and lemon fragrance. Delivers a savoury richness with interwoven acidity. Exudes elegance.
€58.99 in Dublin: On the Grapevine; Deveney's; Jus de Vin; The Vintry and Donnybrook Fair. O'Brien's, nationwide; O'Donovan's, Cork citywide and Joyce's Off-licences nationwide.
6) Grand Cellier Brut, Premier Cru, Vilmart (Organic) 12pc
Feminine style from the dominance of Chardonnay. Youthful freshness and beautifully balanced with unusually softer acidity.
€59.99 from €62 until January 2016 at Quintessential Wines, Drogheda; quintessentialwines.ie; Green Man Wines, Terenure; Hole in the Wall, Phoenix Park and Clontarf Wines.
7) Pannier Brut Rosé 12pc
A delicate pink Champagne. Chalk dry with concentrated yeasty flavours underpinned by a creamy mousse of tiny bubbles and a subtle strawberry finish.
€59.99 at Ardkeen Stores, Waterford; Matson's, Grange and Bandon, No. 21, Cork and The Parting Glass, Wicklow.