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Everyday champagnes

My Top Five Everyday Champagnes

I really don’t subscribe to the school of thought that champagne should be reserved for celebrations and special occasions. 

Of course, you should absolutely drink champagne for celebrations and special occasions too.

So I have developed my own champagne hierarchy and based on the special-ness of the occasion, I recommend champagnes based on price, accessibility and taste. For special moments, I have written these lists… 

But for those moments you just feel like a glass of champagne, I have written this list, dedicated to my five favourite “go to” everyday champagnes.

These are the ones I pop at home any day I feel like a glass of bubbles. Because this is a list of everyday champagnes, they have to be bottles you can grab pretty much anywhere, any day, and are affordable (as far as champagne goes!) but also good quality, that is recognisable as champagne.

Most of the champagnes in this list sit within the $70-$80 price bracket for champagne, where I find a subtle but distinct improvement in complexity and flavour but it’s still not wildly out of reach. 

If you want to try something more affordable, check out my top five party champs. My party picks are priced a little lower and there is a drop in complexity and flavour… so I don’t mind sharing them with a bigger group quite as much.

Here we go…

My top 5 everyday champagnes

1. Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label

Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label has always been a sentimental favourite of mine. The Yellow Label was my first champagne love and Veuve Clicquot is the house that started my champagne obsession. A friend recommended the book The Widow Clicquot, the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the woman who built the Veuve Clicquot empire, and I was hooked. I was fascinated by her story and the story of the house… a strong woman doing kick-ass things well ahead of her time certainly appealed to me.

Madame Clicquot is credited with inventing the riddling table, making the first vintage champagne and the first blended rosé champagne. Under her leadership, Veuve Clicquot used the first brandmark on champagne and patented the colour of the Yellow Label in 1877.

Every time I look at the vibrant yellow label on the bottle I think of summer, sunshine and joy… it’s such a warm, vibrant, sunny shade of yellow. 

And every time I drink a bottle of Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label, it makes me think of the song “Sunshine on a rainy day”… it makes my soul trip trip trip away to a happy place. (I prefer the Christine Anu version). 

A bottle of the Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label generally costs back around AU$70 at full price. 

The Technical Details

The Blend

50 – 55% Pinot Noir

28 – 33% Chardonnay

15 – 20% Meunier

Blended from 50 – 60 crus (including grand crus, premier crus and crus) 

Dosage – 10 g/l 

Aged – for 3 years on lees

Reserve wines – 30 – 45% reserve wines, which may be up to nine years old.

Total annual production – 17 million bottles 

Bubble & Flute Champagne Style – Rich & Robust 

Read the full review of the Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label here

2. Bollinger Special Cuvée

From the sunny freshness of the Veuve Cliquot Yellow Label to the Bollinger Special Cuvée and its distinctive full-bodied richness. The pinot-heavy blend is famously fermented in oak barrels and made with a majority of reserve wines, some of which are aged in magnums. 

Bollinger is a serious wine and one I always recommend to red wine lovers wanting to try champagne. If I think of “Sunshine on a Rainy Day” drinking the Yellow Label, the Bollinger Special Cuvée is like the rich, full-bodied voice of Adele. It’s warm and soulful and powerful.  

The Bollinger Special Cuvée is also easily accessible and available in all good wine retailers where you can expect to pay about $80 a bottle.

Bollinger Special Cuvée

The Technical Details

The Blend

60% Pinot Noir

25% Chardonnay

15% Meunier

Blended from 300 crus (including 85% grand crus and premier crus) 

Dosage – 7-8 g/l 

Aged – for 3 – 4 years on lees

Reserve wines – a majority of reserve wines, part of which have been aged in magnums for 5 – 15 years.

Fermentation – fermented in oak barrels 

Total annual production – 2.5 million bottles 

Bubble & Flute Champagne Style – Rich & Robust 

Read the full review of the Bollinger Special Cuvee here

3. Louis Roederer Collection 242

Louis Roederer Collection 242 is a new addition to the list this year. Louis Roederer is a strong, sentimental favourite house that I love for producing truly beautiful, artful wines. Louis Roederer stands out for its exceptional winemaking, with Chef de Cave, Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon widely respected and recognised as a true innovator. 

The Collection 242 was released in mid-2021 as a new multi-vintage cuvée that, according to Lecaillon, marks the “end of an era for Brut sans année in Champagne”.

The Brut Premier NV, which previously held a place on this list, is no more!

A core driver for the new Collection has been addressing the challenges of climate change in viticulture and champagne. The house is “following a path that is liberating yet offers important safeguards: organic growing, practices inspired by biodynamics, pruning that respects the flow of the sap and the preservation of our vegetal material by ensuring its regeneration.”

Another key difference in the Collection is the introduction of a perpetual solera for reserve wines. Each year, wines from the latest vintage are added to the perpetual reserve stored in a large vat. Roederer uses stainless steel vats and started the reserve in 2012.  Alongside the perpetual reserve, Roederer also blends oak-aged reserve wines into its Collections.

The inaugural cuvée, Collection 242, is based around the 2017 vintage which is the 242nd harvest since Roederer was founded in 1776.

Each subsequent release from each new vintage will be named by a different number (the next will be 243) and will have a different blend and character, based not only on the ever-evolving nature of the perpetual reserve, but the proportion and maturity of oak-aged reserve wines used in the blend and the nature of the base year.

For me, opening any bottle of Louis Roederer is a bit like going to a modern art exhibit… it is beautiful, fascinating, complex and it will make you think. Sometimes you’re not sure you really “get it” but you know you are in the presence of greatness and you appreciate it. Other days, you do get it and just surrender to the depth and complexity. 

The Technical Details

The Blend

42% Chardonnay

36% Pinot Noir

22% Meunier

Reserve wines – Blended from 34% réserve perpetuelle containing equal parts 2012, 13, 14, 15 and 16 vintages. 10% reserve wines aged in oak (2009, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16), and 56% from the 2017 vintage.

Dosage – 8 g/l

Fermenation – 34% Malolactic fermentation

Bubble & Flute Champagne Style – Fresh & Crisp

4. Pol Roger Brut Réserve (NV)

Pol Roger Brut Réserve is my Audrey Hepburn champagne. Classically elegant, distinctive, refined, and sophisticated. It is quietly beautiful… it doesn’t need to be obvious or ostentatious because its style speaks for itself. Exactly like Audrey Hepburn.

It is no surprise to me that Pol Roger Brut Réserve was the champagne of choice at Kate and Will’s and Harry and Meghan’s royal weddings. What might surprise some people is that a champagne fit for a royal wedding is on my everyday champagne list…??? But I suspect I drink more champs than their Royal Highnesses!

Something else that might surprise you is that Pol Roger was the favourite champagne of Sir Winston Churchill! As brash and gruff and blunt as the British PM was, he was said to have had 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger champagne opened in his lifetime. Pol Roger has even named their stunning cuvée de prestige, the Sir Winston Churchill, after the war-time Prime Minister.

The Technical Details

The blend

33% Pinot Noir

33% Chardonnay

33% Pinot Meunier 

Terroir – from 30 different crus.

Reserve wines – 25%  

Dosage – 9 g/l

Aged – for 4 years on lees. Each bottle is given a traditional remuage (hand riddling) before disgorging and dosage.

Fermentation – The alcoholic fermentation takes place at a low temperature (18°C) in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats, with each variety and the production of each village kept separate until final blending. All go through malolactic fermentation.

Annual Production – 1.6 million bottles 

Bubble & Flute Champagne Style – Classic & Smooth

Read the full review of the Pol Roger Brut Réserve here

Pol Roger Epernay

At Pol Roger, Epernay, June 2015

5. Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature

Laherte Frères champagnes are crackers and the Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature is my favourite from the range.  When I first discovered this champagne, you could buy it for about $30 a bottle less than you can now and you had to work to find it – it was only stocked in specialty wine shops.

In fact, this is what I wrote about this champagne when I first discovered it three years ago (when I paid just $79 for it!!!)… 

“I just can’t see that this will last… stock will evaporate or prices will go up, so make like Nike and just do it. And give yourself the gift of bloody good champagne with this Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature.”  Marnie Nichols, 2019

I am like a Champagne oracle!

Now you can get it in Dan Murphy’s and prices have indeed gone way up. It is well over the everyday price bracket I set at $110 a bottle but I have included it here for two reasons:

  1. the quality for the price is still very good and Blanc de Blancs are usually priced higher than blends and
  2. This is without a doubt my go-to blanc de blancs. And this list is my everyday go-to list so I call it like I see it. 

Laherte Frères Blanc De Blancs Brut Nature

It’s a blanc de blancs (100% chardonnay) and Brut Nature, which means there is no sugar added. It is deliciously dry, vibrant, acidic, and has a salty minerality you simply can’t miss. In fact, it’s so fresh and salty and chalky you may never want to drink Brut champagne again.

This is perfect for an Aussie summer which is hot, hot, hot (at least it’s hot in Queensland, where I’m from). I have affectionately nicknamed the Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature my Mick Fanning champagne. A few years ago, I wrote a post about my top five fantasy dates for Valentine’s Day and the champagnes we’d pop. I have a bit of a Mick Fanning crush so he was on my list and I paired him with the Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature. It’s dry, fresh, salty and chalky, a surfie champagne for sure. Even without Mick Fanning, this champagne at sunset on the beach with fish and chips …. GOLD!

And do live on the Gold Coast and the beach is only a few minutes away so I pretty much always have a bottle of Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature in my fridge.

The Technical Details

The blend

100% chardonnay

Terroir – Chavot & Epernay soft clay and chalk

Reserve Wine – 50%

Dosage – 0 g/l

Aged – for 2 years on lees

Total annual production – 120,000 bottles in total from the producer across all 12 cuvées 

Bubble & Flute Champagne Style – Fresh & Crisp AND Bold & Adventurous

Read the full review of the Laherte Freres Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature here. 

That’s a wrap for my everyday champagnes!

I don’t write ridiculously-specific tasting notes. Because – like most people – my palate is simply not so good that I can detect “a crescendo of wild berries” or “the harmonious tension of lively acid drive”. If you go to my reviews in my Bubbles Bible section or click on the links to the full review above, I do include more information and share reviews from other wine writers who do have such finely tuned palates for a well-rounded look at each champagne.

I always include the geeky stuff about the wine blend because it is useful and helpful. And after more than a decade of champagne tastings with everyone from beginners to fully-fledged champs-snobs, I have developed a theory that everyone has a basic, favourite style of champagne they’ll always choose over everything else.

I have developed my Bubble & Flute Champagne Style to reveal your champagne style and suggest more champagnes to try, based on your style, that I think you are totally going to love!

Once you know your champagne style you will visit wine shops or shop online feeling more confident and comfortable selecting new champagnes because you know and understand what style of champagnes you like most.

And that my friends, is practical. Because life’s too short (and the budget usually too tight) for buying a champagne you won’t LOVE!

Try these champs and let me know what you think! Make sure you post a pic and tag @bubbleandflute #happychamper

Bubble & Flute promotes the responsible consumption of alcohol for individuals of legal drinking age in their country. Prices correct at time of publication but may change.