Tasting Notes: French Champagne

André Baranowski

Here are ten excellent vintage French champagnes, listed in my order of preference, that nicely represent the range of styles available. Since many retailers put champagnes on sale at this time of year, you may be able to pay less than the prices indicated below.

LOUIS ROEDERER BLANC DE BLANCS 2000 ($72). Beautifully structured, with a refined character; on a par with Cristal, Roederer's luxury cuvee, but sold at less than a third the price.

CHARLES HEIDSIECK BLANC DES MILLÉNAIRES 1995 ($110). A thoroughbred, with great complexity, concentration, and finesse.

BOLLINGER LA GRANDE ANNÉE 1999 ($125). Pricier than most but toasty and deep; an exceptionally versatile wine that's suited to a variety of foods.

HENRIOT BRUT 1998 ($70). Impeccably balanced, with an enticing bouquet followed by a satisfying depth of flavor for a variety of food pairings.

POMMERY BRUT GRAND CRU 1998 ($80). Made in a delicate style, with citrus-tinged aromas and flavors, which make it appropriate for light fare.

TAITTINGER BRUT MILLÉSIME 2000 ($75). Deeper in character than Taittinger's popular nonvintage "La Française" but still fresh and lively—qualities that make it an excellent choice with sushi.

GOSSET GRAND MILLÉSIME 1999 ($85). Substantial and tightly wound; time in the bottle will bring out its best characteristics.

DEUTZ ROSÉ 2002 ($75). Youthfully vibrant and satisfyingly long on the palate; will pair well with Lobster Bisque.

PHILIPPONNAT GRAND BLANC BRUT 1999 ($75). Crisp and dry; takes on additional richness with time in the glass.

MOËT & CHANDON GRAND VINTAGE 2000 ($65). Sumptuous but slightly sweet; try it with boldly flavored Asian dishes.