These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

What comes first — are the presents unwrapped, or is the champagne uncorked? Whichever order you plump for says a lot about the calibre of your Christmas. Here at Gentleman’s Journal, we’re well of the opinion that celebrations can’t start until the fizz begins to flow. And that means we’re very well-versed in picking the best bottles for the festive season.

Below, we’ve rounded up the most sparkling wines money can buy. There are new offerings, from both Krug and Louis Roederer, as well as some rarer options from Billecart-Salmon, Lanson and Bollinger. We’ve even sneaked a couple of English sparkling wines onto our list. So read on, drink up and have a very merry Christmas. Because, after all, ’tis the season…

Krug Grande Cuvée 169ème Edition

Why should you choose it? Because, when this edition was composed — the harvest of 2013 — the season began with a seemingly endless winter. Frosts, flurries and flakes? It doesn’t get more Christmassy than that.

What does it taste like? Expect aromas of flowers in bloom, marzipan and gingerbread — before sipping flavours of hazelnut, nougat, barley sugar, citrus fruits, almonds, brioche and honey. It’s a festive treat.

When should you open it? With Krug’s inextricable links to the world of music, we’d deem this a glass to raise during tuneful times across the Christmas period; think pre-carolling, or the first time you hear Bing croon. 

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Krug Grande Cuvée 169ème Edition

£170.00

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Louis Roederer Collection 242

Why should you choose it? Because, like the Krug above, this champagne is new for 2021. The ‘242’ in the name of this release refers to the youngest vintage in the blend, 2017, which was the 242nd Roederer harvest. 

What does it taste like? The nose suggests notes of apple and almonds, but it’s richer on the palate; offering up flavours of blackberry, raspberry and cherry. Those fine, effervescent streams of bubbles are also particularly punchy. 

When should you open it? When you establish a new tradition. As Louis Roederer replaces its Brut Premier NV with this new line of wine, why not get some new Christmassy rituals and routines going yourself? Wreath-making, gingerbread-baking — everything is improved with a fluteful of fizz.

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Louis Roederer Collection 242

£69.95

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois

Why should you choose it? Because it is entirely unique; a bottle with an eye-catching, wood-effect label that has been entirely vinified in oak and composed of the three Champenois grape varieties. A masterclass in blending.

What does it taste like? Wood — but that’s to be expected. And the notes are subtler than that; with grilled brioche and sticky toffee coming through, and a top aroma of thickly-spread, seductive dark butter. 

When should you open it? When you’re eating. Billecart-Salmon recommend popping this open when you dish up plates of poultry. So prime those turkey-carving knives and grab a glass — as the strength of this wine’s character will stand up to even the tartest cranberry sauce. 

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois

£65.00

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Nyetimber Blanc De Blancs 2014

Why should you choose it? Because, despite it not officially being a champagne, this English sparkling wine is among the finest examples of fizz for the festive season. Smartly dressed and full of characterful Chardonnay, it’s a single variety delight.

What does it taste like? You wouldn’t think it for that light gold hue, but this one’s teeming with flavours. Aromas of citrus and honeysuckle lead into subtle brioche and vanilla characters, before notes of baked lemon and peach finish things off.

When should you open it? During that Boxing Day lull. Such is the mastery and finesse of this English wine, you’ll want to devote your full attention to the craft and character of every fluteful. Enjoy it when everyone else is having a post-turkey sandwich nap.

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Nyetimber Blanc De Blancs 2014

£46.00

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Lanson Le Vintage 2009

Why should you choose it? Because the 2009 harvest was a particularly good year; offering a complex wine characterised by its richness, its freshness, its generous aromatic expression, and its balance. A crowd-pleaser.

What does it taste like? The almost half-and-half split of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir afford this one a spectrum of flavours; from apricot and acacia flowers to lime-blossom, candied fruits and rounded, robust pear. 

When should you open it? When you’re with family. Certain vintages — 1955, 1976 and this 2009 — have built the reputation of Lanson over time, so it only seems fair to celebrate this bottling in similarly generational company.

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Lanson Le Vintage 2009

£49.99

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Bollinger Special Cuvee 007 Limited Edition

Why should you choose it? Because, just as we had to wait many months for No Time To Die, it’s also been too long since we had a proper Christmas. Celebrate both with this limited edition; also a perfect gift for fans of the superspy. 

What does it taste like? Despite the DB5 on the box, this is a classic bottle of Bollinger. With a beautifully fine mousse, there are notes of rich apple and peach on the palate, followed by brioche and hearty walnuts to finish.

When should you open it? During a Bond film — when else? Wait until the credits roll on The Great Escape, and then pop on your favourite 007 film (but not before popping the cork on this limited edition bottle).

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Bollinger Special Cuvee 007 Limited Edition

£54.00

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Taittinger Brut Vintage 2014

Why should you choose it? Speaking of Bond above, the man from MI6 also had a soft spot for Taittinger. As do we. Choose this delectable, dark-bottled champagne if you’re looking for something at once complex and fresh.

What does it taste like? It’s got a rather crisp, precise palate for such a complex champagne. Notes of fruit and florals swirl around deeper hints of brioche and almond — balanced and tempered by honeysuckle and subtle lime blossom.

When should you open it? During a meal — but nothing too substantial. If you’re hosting more of a mingling, jingling party, pass around a tray of flutes filled with this Taittinger. It’ll be a talking point, without overpowering the food.

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Taittinger Brut Vintage 2014

£48.50

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Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2016

Why should you choose it? You’ve spotted it; another non-champagne sparkling wine. But, like the Nyetimber above, Gusbourne more than earns its place on this list — principally for its gift-giving potential.

What does it taste like? Almost as beautiful as that box and bottle. Its Chardonnay aromas of green apple, citrus and buttered toast are the perfect way to introduce any still-skeptical friends to the joys of English wine.

When should you open it? Fish may not be the most common Christmas dish, but this Blanc de Blancs pairs wonderfully with freshly shucked oysters. Alternatively, give it as a gift and let them decide when to pop the cork.

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2016

£59.99

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Champagne Comte de Monte-Carlo ‘Sainte-Dévote’

Why should you choose it? Because it’s a lesser-known entity — but just as effervescent as the more famous names on this list. Elaborated from the finest Chardonnay grapes, it’s a Reims premier cru you need to try. 

What does it taste like? It forgoes the fruit somewhat; instead zeroing in on the floral notes that many modern champagnes miss out on. The palate is strong with violets, with aromas of menthol and fennel on the nose. 

When should you open it? When the relatives are around. Especially if you’ve got some know-it-alls in the family. Presenting them a glass of this understated, underrated champagne will show that it’s you in the know.  

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Champagne Comte de Monte-Carlo ‘Sainte-Dévote’

£55.42

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Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque

Why should you choose it? Aside from those artful flowers snaking their way around the green glass? This fresh, floral champagne is as beautiful as the bottle suggests — sensuous and silky in equal moreish measure.

What does it taste like? Like the Comte de Monte-Carlo above, there’s a focus on flowers here. Think hawthorn and acacia, backed up with fine aromas of white fruits, citrus and just a hint of vanilla.

When should you open it? On Christmas morning; bear with us. Instead of tainting champagne with orange juice for a much-maligned ‘Bucks Fizz’, just enjoy a subtle, seasonal fluteful of something that stands on its own.

These are the champagnes we’re drinking this Christmas

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque

£130.00

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Want something a little stronger? Here are the best ports to try this Christmas…

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