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Our Favorite Champagne on the Market Right Now

You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to pop open a bottle of bubbly.

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There’s just something about champagne that just seems to make people happy (which we could all use right about now). It could be the delicate bubbles playfully popping on your palate, or perhaps it’s the fresh and vibrant flavors, or maybe it’s the association it holds for many with celebrations. While it’s definitely an excellent choice to mark a momentous event, champagne is also delicious on an average weeknight after a long day. “Some people like to reserve champagne for a special occasion, but feel free to enjoy it regularly like many other wines,” said consulting food and beverage director Chris Lauber. “There’s no denying a sparkling wine that changed history can often be considered ’special’ and earmarked for certain occasions, but rosé champagne can often pair just like a light red wine with dinner.”

Related: The Best Red Wines on the Market Now

There are different styles to choose made by truly esteemed and historic champagne houses, showcasing champagne’s versatility. If you are new to champagne, Lauber suggests finding a local store or website that you trust and asking for a couple of different styles.”You will likely be surprised at the differences,” he said, “especially if you open them together and try them side-by-side with friends.” Also, an expensive price tag doesn’t necessarily mean high quality (although in some cases it does), and don’t get fooled by fancy packaging. “As a rule of thumb, if the price is under $40 per bottle and it’s got overly luxurious packaging,” said Lauber, “you may be paying for the looks over the taste.”

Here are ten bottles of champagne to try this year that score high marks in both bottle design and flavor, from some truly luxurious vintages to more affordable everyday offerings.

Mod Sélection Rose Vintage 2008

Mod Sélection may be viewed as a celebrity brand due to its affiliation with Drake, who is an invested partner. But this is no lark—the champagne, founded by spirits industry veteran Brent Hocking, is indeed very good (and expensive). The Rose Vintage 2008 is produced using the saignée method, which means that the wine is made as a byproduct of red wine fermentation using juice removed at an early stage in the process. It’s delicate and slightly sweet, with bright notes of red berries and citrus, and is a delightful way to start any evening. $550

Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2007

The 2007 vintage is a standout of Ruinart’s Blanc de Blancs (this designation means it’s made only from white grapes as opposed to a blend of red and white). This champagne is made from 100 percent Chardonnay grapes from Grand Cru vineyards that were harvested after a summer which saw some particularly gloomy weather. The result is a pleasantly chalky champagne with notes of green citrus and fig leaf on the nose, and grapefruit and plum on the palate. $179

GH Mumm Grand Cordon

GH Mumm is a champagne house that also makes sparkling wine in Napa, but over in Reims is where the flagship Grand Cordon is produced. This brut champagne is a blend of Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (30%), and Pinot Meunier (25%), that is cellar aged for 2.5 years. The bottle is sleek and modern looking, with a bright red sash wrapped around it that was inspired by the Légion d’Honneur. The liquid is golden yellow with notes of vanilla and tropical fruit on the nose, and a fresh and vibrant palate. $50

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Brut 2012

This 2012 vintage is part of Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque collection and was named after the “Beautiful Age,” a period in French history during which the arts flourished. According to cellar master Hervé Deschamps, this champagne is produced only when “the seasons have aligned perfectly.” The result here is a 50% Chardonnay champagne aged for a minimum of six years, with a light gold color and notes of white peach and fresh lemon. This is a lovely champagne that would pair well with fish or other light food. $150

Nicolas Feuillatte Palmes d’Or Brut 2008

Nicolas Feuillatte likens its Palmes d’Or collection to “champagne as a work of art.” Indeed, the new bottle design is something to look at, and the liquid within is just as appealing. This champagne is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 95% of which comes from Grand Cru vineyards. According to the tasting notes, the Chardonnay grapes from Montgueux reveal a “more tropical and intense character profile with an aromatic touch.” Look for notes of honey and even a bit of toast on the palate. $136

Rare Millesime 2006

This champagne is certainly a splurge, but one that you will not regret. There have been nine Rare Millesime vintages released over the past four decades, each one in very limited numbers (the 2008 will be released next). The most recent Brut vintage is the 2006, a blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. This is a complex and refined champagne, with a bouquet of flavors and aromas on the nose and palate, including coffee, mango, citrus, and apricot. The gold filigree label was designed by Arthus Bertrand who started working with Piper-Heidsieck, the champagne house behind Rare Millesime, in 2007. $275

Champagne Bollinger La Grande Année 2012

La Grande Année 2012 is a recent addition to the market from the esteemed house of Champagne Bollinger. This blend of 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay comes from 21 sustainably farmed Crus, and was vinified in neutral barriques. Bollinger recommends pairing this champagne with gourmet food, allowing its silky palate and apricot and almond-infused nose to complement the rich flavors and slowly reveal itself. $170

Champagne Ayala Le Blanc de Blancs 2013

Another fantastic Blanc de Blancs that is newly available is this 2013 vintage from Champagne Ayala. This champagne house is a smaller operation than some of its peers, and is known for its drier, low dosage style. This vintage was aged for six years on the lees, revealing notes of stone fruit, honey, passionfruit. Recommended food pairings include white fish or lobster. $110

Louis Roederer Brut Nature x Starck 2012

Louis Roederer is of course famous for its Cristal line, but the champagne house has an excellent range that extends well beyond that. This release was created in collaboration with French designer and architect Philippe Starck, who designed the label. The 2012 vintage is a blend made predominantly of Pinot Noir (the rest being Chardonnay and Meunier). Tasting notes include a gentle effervescence, aromas of candied lemon and hazelnut, and saline freshness on the palate. $90

Krug 2006

Each Krug vintage receives a playful nickname, with the 2006 receiving the title of “Capricious Indulgence.” The blend is nearly half Pinot Noir, and has spent 12 years aging in the champagne house’s cellars. It’s a light gold color, with notes of maple syrup and meringue on the nose and tarte tatin and grapefruit on the palate, according to the tasting notes. This would be a good bottle to hold onto for a few years and save for a special occasion - or go ahead and drink it during a simple weeknight dinner. $300

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