When it comes to Champagne, no matter what your preference is – sweet, dry, red, white, pink, even light alcohol – there is certainly one that fits the bill. To buy this imperial nectar though, you don’t need to be a millionaire, since the best champagnes under $100 belong to a selection of well-known Champagne houses.
Today, some of the best French champagnes under $100 include luxurious Grandes Marques names as Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Bollinger, Pol Roger, Ruinart, Laurent-Perrier, Louis Roederer, Taittinger, etc and while we tend to think of Champagne as a perfect wine for a special occasion, they add a delightful touch to any occasion, any time of the year.
Top 15 Best Champagnes under $100
1. Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne N.V.
Louis Roederer Brut Champagne is a classic example of the perfect trio of Champagne grapes. A blend of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier it shows a rich and perfumed nose of lemon and blossom, bread, biscuit honey wax. Full-bodied, lovely, pure, and fresh on the palate, with nutty flavors and a stunningly smooth fruit, this is a full-flavored, yet very delicate Champagne with a very fine and well-structured mineral finish.
2. Veuve Clicquot Brut (Carte Jaune) Champagne N.V.
The classic noble grapes of Pinot Noir (50-55%), Chardonnay (28-33%), and Pinot Meunier (15-20%) are hand-harvested then vinified with Methode traditionelle, resulting in a wine that is finely chiseled, crisp, and super stylish. This Champagne is s fresh on the nose with amazing accents of citrus and grapefruit. A nice level of mousse and focused effervescence lingers in the mouth. The palate is fresh and frank with generous mineral notes and an elegant tautness. Its minerality can match perfectly noble dishes.
3. Pol Roger Réserve Brut Champagne N.V.
Champagne Pol Roger is renowned as of the world’s leading Champagne brands with a history dating back 160 years. Today, it’s also one of the last family-owned luxury Champagne brands.
This Cuvée has a satin golden yellow color and on the nose is generous with brioche, pastry and expresses a clay minerality. With aeration, it develops some honey, fruit jelly aromas as well as almond and vanilla notes. The well-balanced palate offers generous fruit notes and a creamy effervescence. The finish is expressing a distinct creamy and toasty character that can be the perfect partner in crime of your romantic dinners.
4. Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Aÿ Champagne N.V.
No matter what you’re looking for, Champagne Bollinger will have a variety that suits you. Opt for the classic Special Cuvée and you’ll be greeted with champagne that demonstrates an exceptional blending of harvest grapes and reserve wines. This creates an aroma of ripe fruit and spices, with notes of roasted apples and peaches. The distinct golden color with very fine bubbles will, on the palate, taste like velvet with flavors of pear, brioche and a hint of walnut. Superb party choice or an elegant evening sparkler.
5. Laurent-Perrier Brut Cuvée Champagne Rosé N.V.
If you’re looking for a special bottle of bubbly Rosé for an upcoming celebration, look no further than Laurent-Perrier. Lovers of rosé wine will enjoy this pink nectar that looks as though it has the intense depth of red wine, but tastes of flavors of delicate wild berries. The nose is deep and neat with red fruit aromas. After a few minutes of aeration, it develops complex mineral and pastry notes. The palate is silky and full of finesse and brings lively, intense flavors of cherries and spicy notes. The perfect image of a 100% Pinot Noir Champagne coming from chalky soils.
6. Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne N.V.
Chardonnay is the soul of the Maison Ruinart. Its grapes, coming mainly from the Côte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims, are the key of all its cuvées.
As for the appearance it has got an elegant bright straw yellow color, with a fine and persistent perlage. This is an outstanding Blanc de Blancs that on the nose reveals notes of citrus peel and exotic fruits. Hints of lemon, cedar, pineapple, passion fruit alongside floral notes on the palate. Full-bodied, soft, and excellent freshness, with a finish of excellent persistence.
7. Henri Giraud Esprit Nature Champagne N.V.
Esprit Nature represents the turning point towards “natural” winemaking by Henri Giraud who since 2016 has abandoned the use of steel to vinify all his wines in wooden barriques from the Argonne forest and terracotta amphorae. The cuvèe is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, with an elegant mix of 50% reserve wine and aged in the bottle for no less than 18 months. Golden yellow in color, the nose has hints of pear and peach mixed with notes of vanilla, white pepper, and citrus. On the palate, it is initially fresh and then continues with mineral and biscuit notes. The finish it is very intense but also balanced and refined.
8. Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne N.V.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé comes from the classic assemblage of the holy trinity of Champagne grape varieties, Pinot noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, belonging to various vintages. The vinification takes place separately for each grape, in small 50-hectolitre wooden barrels, for about 3 weeks. Pinot noir is vinified in red. On the nose this Champagne has got a hit of boldness, moving quickly into refreshing citrus and floral flavor mix as well as bread dough aroma with lemon and tropical fruit overtones. A taste of apricot and oranges lays well on the palate, with vanilla and notes of ripe stone fruit subtly making an appearance near the end. Gorgeous creamy mousse and brisk acidity on the finish.
9. Pierre Paillard La Grande Récolte Extra Brut Champagne Grand Cru ‘Bouzy’
“La Grande Récolte” is the Extra Brut identifying the Pierre Paillard Maison, produced only in the best vintages from the oldest vines of the Grand Cru of Bouzy, with maturation on the lees for 9 years. Aromas of candied citrus, pastry, accompanied by a fresh, juicy, slender, and persistent sip. It has a rich, creamy palate marked by very ripe lemon and some exotic fruit. The finish lasts with an impressive freshness and minerality that can escort you through your celebration dinners.
10. Taittinger Millésimé Brut Champagne
Taittinger is one of the excellences of the famous houses of Reims. It produces this Millésimé Champagne only in the best years, obtained from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir coming mostly from Grand Cru grapes for 70% and from Premier Cru grapes for 30% and aged for 5 years on the lees. On the nose, it expresses intense citrus, floral, spicy and toasted notes in an opulent, medium to full-bodied style with enough underlying acidity to keep it crisp and refreshing.
11. Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (Vintage)
The Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs by Louis Roederer is an exceptional Champagne which is aged on the lees for 60 months. The nose is captivating, with notes of subtle spices, citrus fruits, flowers, light chalky minerality, and white stone fruit and lemon drop. On the palate, it is fragrant, juicy, balanced, elegant with a toasty brioche aroma, a vivacious mousse, and a creamy texture with bright acidity.
12. Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne
The Champagne Brut “Grand Vintage” by Moet & Chandon is a prestigious sparkling wine with an elegant and fine profile, aged for 6 years on the lees. It is unique because it is the first to be conceived by the Chef de Cave Benoit Goeuz and because it’s the result of grapes chosen from a great vintage. Fruity and floral notes emerge on the nose, with hints of biscuit and vanilla. On the palate, it has got a wonderful balance, with a bready, yeasty aroma and tropical fruit notes mixed with hazelnuts and lemon butter; round and full, with a lively, soft and persistent mousse. Chances are, they’ll be nothing like other champagnes you’ve tasted.
13. Louis Roederer Brut Nature Champagne (Philippe Starck)
If you’re feeling extra special and decide to go for a Brut Nature (the very driest style of Champagne, with less than three grams of residual sugar per liter of wine) the Champagne Brut Nature by Roederer, produced in partnership with the architect Philippe Starck, is a rich and complex vintage champagne. It matures on the lees for 5 years and on the nose, it expresses beautiful blossom and floral notes and flavors of lemon zest, fresh lime notes, hazelnuts, and yellow fruit. On the palate, it will leave your taste buds tingling with complex flavors, both dense and subtle of honey, candied citrus, quince, dried exotic fruits, and ginger.
14. Philipponnat Royale Réserve Non Dosé Champagne
The most popular Champagne styles under $100 are intensely dry – which translates to less sweet – and flavor warm, nutty flavors over their fruiter notes for a creamy finish. This Philipponat Champagne is a masterpiece and comes as a “zero-dosage” wine, made without added sugar, a style that has been gaining buzz recently. The cuvée Royale Réserve Non Dosé comes from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards located in Ay and Mareuil-sur-Ay. The assemblage involves the use of about 20-30% of reserve wines aged in wooden barrels using the solera method. It’s particularly impressive by combining the structure of graceful aging with surprising openness and complex aromas of hawthorn, with hints of citrus, exotic fruits, and lime. On the palate, it opens with great freshness and minerality. Long, persistent finish with notes of green apple and brioche.
15. Nicolas Feuillatte Collection Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne (Vintage)
Nicolas Feuillatte creates Nicolas Feuillatte Collection Vintage Blanc de Blancs based solely on Chardonnay grapes and with an alcohol content of 12%. Vintage champagnes are cellared for at least three years. But some producers age their wines much longer—as Feuillatte does. As champagnes age, they tend to take on a golden hue and a toasty bouquet, and the bubbles become more delicate. The sole use of Chardonnay grapes creates a sophisticated blend of fruit, floral, and spice on the nose. The honey, vanilla, and almond attack the palate to lay down a soft and smooth aroma with lingering vanilla scents. This Champagne overall has a smooth and well-rounded taste, brimming with honeyed notes and finished with a crisp tartness.
But why is champagne so expensive?
It’s because of its unique crafting method “Mèthode Champenoise”, which requires a second fermentation in the bottle but as well as because the harvest is entirely done by hand in order to have undamaged grapes. Besides, it can be made only from the pulp extraction of three grapes (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier) grown and harvested in one of the 320 villages in the region of Champagne. As such, its exclusivity makes champagne the sparkling wine of choice to enjoy in a tulip-shaped glass (filled only halfway).
Because every year is different, it is important for the winemakers to observe and listen to the vines in order to decide the right moment for the harvest. A number of factors will determine whether the wines will be suitable for the production of a vintage wine.
Labeled by the year of harvest, vintage cuvées are only produced in years of exceptional quality and account for only a small percentage of production. Non vintage champagnes are produced instead every year by means of blending various vintages and reserve wines.
That’s why champagnes vary in price, and if you buy a non-vintage Champagne (i.e. N.V.=not of a specific year) you’ll certainly save some money compared to vintage ones. But you can absolutely purchase the very best French champagnes under $100 belonging to the best of years.
Looking for a vintage champagne?
If you are looking for a vintage one remember that just like there are great years, there are also not-so-great-years, but Champagne houses always strive for consistency and need to release a Champagne that tastes like last year’s Champagne. To do this, expert Champagne makers create blends from the sometimes hundreds of vineyards and vintages they have access to. In this way, the big houses of Champagne offer incredible consistency.
Champagnes are typically divided into three groups based on their grape composition: Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay, white grapes), Blanc de Noirs (100% Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier, red grapes), and blends (of white and red grapes). Blends report the exact proportion of each grape on the label as an indication of the flavor to expect. Each grape variety brings a set of distinctive sensory features to the sparkling wine. The grapes won’t be named on the label, but you may see the terms ‘blanc de noir” and ‘Blanc de Blancs’. The dosage is used to balance the acidity, magnify the character of the wine, and define the category of champagne – Brut Nature, Extra-Brut, Brut, Demi-Sec.
But with an astronomical number of sparkling options out there to explore, it can be tricky to know which drop will best suit your tastes. So, to help you pick the best champagne under $100 you can choose from the well-known, high-volume brands and either buy the best vintages of the last few years or a non-vintage one with special characteristics (Cuvée or Millésimé) many of which offer superior value for money.
So while many assume that Champagne only gets better with years of age, the opposite is true for many bottles, depending on their blend of grapes. All Champagne wines must spend at least 15 months in the bottle before release, of which 12 months maturation on lees (when sediment formed by dead yeast cells decomposes and imparts its flavor to the wine) is required for non-vintage cuvees for it to be called Champagne. But for bottles intended to be aged longer, there is often more Pinot Noir in the blend, as these are stable grapes that help with the aging structure.
Chardonnay grapes, on the other hand, are added to create a fresher and more delicate profile, for the roundness of palate and floral aromas.