In French, brut translates to “raw,” the key word in our slate of exceptional bubbly for ringing in 2014. Champagnes and sparkling wines in this category are bottled in their natural state with little residual sugar, so the taste has a clean, dry snap. After the excessive sweetness of the holidays, it feels like just the right note to end on.
A former chef and Champagne aficionado, Kyle Parnell of Total Wine picked these three bottles to cover every budget.
Rondel Brut Cava, $9 This sparkling wine has softness not common to bruts, with peach and white pepper on the tongue. Made exactly as French Champagne is but with Spanish grapes, it has the toasty flavor without the bitter finish. “It has received 90 points from Wine & Spirits magazine for the last two years. It’s just really, really excellent.”
Paul Goerg Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs, $38 This “white of whites” is made from 100 percent Chardonnay grapes grown in the Côte des Blancs region. For the price, Parnell says the complexity is off the charts, with essences of candied ginger, lemon curd, pastry and spring flowers. “It’s got so many different things going on, especially on the nose. … It’s very creamy overall.”
Mailly Les Echansons Grand Cru, $170 “It’s the most limited-production bottle that we can get here in Las Vegas,” Parnell says. Only around 6,900 bottles of this 2002 vintage were made, and the Pinot Noir-heavy Champagne conveys everything from cooked pear to caramelized butter and a hint of smoke. “It’s absolutely one of the most complex Champagnes I’ve ever tasted. … The finish just goes on for minutes, and it’s changing in your mouth constantly.”