No Booty, Just Good Bubbly

Michael Nagrant / 03.21.08

It’s hard to resist the allure of Champagne that’s been poured all over some hip hop groupie’s booty. But, if you find yourself in a wine store contemplating a bottle of Cristal this weekend, I got a better bottle that’ll save you some Benjamins.

Launois “Cuvee Reserve” Brut Blanc de Blancs – found at Binny’s South Loop.

Blanc de blancs translates as white of whites, which means this bad boy is 100% chardonnay grape. It comes from Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in the Champagne region of France. The grapes come from neighboring vineyards which produce Krug Clos de Mesnil and in very very special years Salon. Salon and Krug are regarded as some of the best bubbly in the world and not because Jay-Z says so. Though Jay-Z apparently rocks the Krug now, so maybe he does say so… Either way, the prices on those bottles runs well into the $200 range, but the Launois is only $35.99.

So why so cheap? Well, no one’s writing about Launois in the US and no ones filling hot tubs with it in rap videos.

Launois is highly regarded in France, and hold on to your freedom fries, those dudes definitely know a thing or two about wine.

Though why take their word for it. I broke open a bottle yesterday to celebrate my son’s 1st birthday. The first sip fills you with a full bodied warmth of honey and toast. It’s a champagne like this which makes you realize that the reasonably tasty bubbles clocking in at $10 bucks a Trader Joes have nothing going on (and I’ve been a big booster of say Segura Viudas and some of those other value brands).

This Launois is everything champagne should be. It’s aged on the lees for four years and vinified in stainless steel tank. Lees, are not old vintage bargain basement jeans, rather they are the dead yeast left over from fermentation. By leaving the wine on the lees for so long, it adopts that toasty characteristic I mentioned earlier. With Bollinger clocking in $50 these days because of the Euro and demand from the rising middle classes in India and Asia, this is now my new go to special occasion bottle.