Almost Champagne: Exquisite Vintage Sparkling Burgundy. $32

Two main distinctions separate Champagne and other French sparkling wine. First, terroir: Champagne’s unique chalky soils contribute to the singular flavors of its wines. Second, time spent on the lees: Champenois age their wines on lees for longer — on average 2-3 years for non vintage, and 3+ for vintage.

Today’s wine the closest thing to Champagne we’ve found outside the region. The winemakers at Louis Picamelot hold their Cuvée JB Chautard for a remarkable five years on the lees, longer than many Champagne houses. The result is an extraordinarily complex crémant, with notes of almond and crème brûlée reminiscent of Grower Champagne.

Let your guests taste it before you tell them where it’s from — we’d bet every one of them will guess Champagne.

The Wine Advocate’s Champagne expert William Kelley calls Picamelot’s cuvées “some of the best sparkling wines in Burgundy,” explaining they make “a persuasive case for taking the genre more seriously.” Picamelot’s wines appear on lists at Michelin starred restaurants such as the three star Lameloise in Burgundy and Alain Ducasse’s three-star in Monte Carlo.

Named for winemaker Philippe Chautard’s grandfather, the cuvée JB Chautard is an 80/20 blend of chardonnay and aligoté, fermented in barrels then left on the lees for a full five years — they began disgorging the 2013 this summer. Kelley awarded 90 points, finding “an elegantly fine mousse, good cut and texture and a sapid, complex finish.” We found a nose full of brioche, nuts, and buttered bread. The mouth is fine, delicate, and very long, with notes of raisins and toast.

Champagne-quality bubbles don’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. And at this price you can enjoy them twice as often.


Picamelot Crémant JB Chautard 2013
bottle price: $32

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