WINE: Luxury Bubbles

I was asked to bring out my favourite Champagnes to fulfill your holiday dreams and the sky was the limit.

“Real” Champagne must be made in the Champagne region of France. The methods are stringent, sometimes involving chardonnay and pinot noir grapes from more than a dozen villages. The process takes several years of painstaking stages in the cellar.

What is my personal fave rave Champers? For silky finesse and utter elegance, it is Salon, a rare Champagne only made in the best years, once or twice a decade. But since it is $429, let's head into saner price territory.

Here are my top two luxury choices, plus three far more affordable but still extremely worthy runners-up.

Cristal Brut Champagne
Rating: 94
#268755, $286.95

Some years, this resembles ginger ale, but the current release is back up to greatness with refined lemon, toast, and lime aromas and finessed flavours showing roast apples, a touch of ginger, and a subtle hint of peach on an endless finish. This has never been affordable, being the top of the Louis Roederer range of Champagnes. Hollywood stars endlessly singing its virtues has upped sales, so the price is not going down soon! For toasting important occasions. Pair with pheasant or fresh turkey roast.

Dom Perignon Brut Champagne 2003
Rating: 95
#280461, $222.95

Extremely elegant, focused and rich. Aromas of fresh baked bread, yeast and hints of hazelnuts. The flavours are refined with an elegance that seems to last forever. Complex lemon, poached pear, dried flowers, and minerals. A seemingly endless play on the palate. Perhaps the world's most famous Champagne, named after a monk, Dom Perignon, who according to legend, discovered the Champagne making process in the late 1600s and proclaimed upon sipping it, “I have tasted the stars!”

Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne
Rating: 92
#158550, $99.95

A luscious nose of black cherry, subtle raspberry and strawberry with mellow, wide palate flavours hinting of red currant jelly, and raspberry. Deliciously different. Sommeliers in Toronto swear by this rosé as amazingly versatile with a huge range of cuisine. Made from 100 per cent pinot noir grapes, this is the number one rosé Champagne in the world, for good reason. Go for crown of lamb with rosemary or mint stuffing.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne
Rating: 91
#268771, $68.95

A yeasty leesy nose, with hazelnut and pear aromas. The flavours show floral yellow apple, some smoke and a hint of butter. Excellent value. A lot less pricey than the king in the Roederer stable, the Cristal, and while less stellar it's more fleshy. Considered the greatest value for non-vintage Champagne on the planet and simply delicious fizz. Grilled salmon is an ideal pairing.

Perrier Jouet Grand Brut Champagne
Rating: 91
#155341, $65.95

The welcoming scents of homemade baking powder biscuits, and lemon curd in the aromas. In the mouth, toasty yeasty apple and pear essence. Quite elegant. A very popular Champagne for toasting in the new year. It tastes more like $100 than $65. The toastiness is a classic flavour signature for Champagnes.Try it with stuffed pork