A Tahoe-centric guide to Champagne for all occasions

Claire Cudahy
Tahoe Magazine

Whether you’re toasting the new year or popping a bottle because, well … it’s Monday, a glass of bubbly has a way of punctuating a moment and turning an ordinary evening into something special.

This winter, Tahoe Magazine caught up with two purveyors of the good stuff to bring you four bottles that hold their own at fancy dinner parties with friends and during “Downton Abbey” marathons in sweats.

Chris Barkman is a partner at Uncorked, a wine bar and shop with locations in Truckee, Tahoe City and Squaw Valley, and Petra, a wine bar and restaurant at Northstar. Barkman is a fan of Champagne of “Récoltant-Manipulant” (RM), a French term that means grower-producers who make and market Champagne from grapes exclusively sourced from their own vineyards.

“There’s a small hitch in Champagne of RM producers that have a true essence of heart and soul,” says Barkman. “Champagne was initially built of consistency year after year, as this is what the consumer wanted at the time. Like all wine regions you have different vintages year after year and what you produce is reflective of that. The RM producers farm and harvest this way and you can taste the vivid purity in their product.”

Karla Brennan, meanwhile, owns The Cork and More, a deli and gourmet food store in South Lake Tahoe, with her husband Jeff. Brennan is partial to bubbly that comes right from her home state of California — Santa Rosa and Calistoga, to be specific.

Below are two picks from each bubbly expert for you to try out this winter … no matter the occasion (or day of week).

Chris Barkman picks:

Henri Goutorbe NV Brut Rosé Grand Cru

Region: Champagne, France

Taste: Dry and rich with apple and red currant flavors

Price: $70

J. Lassalle Brut Champagne Preference Premier Cru

Region: Champagne, France

Taste: Crisp and lively with mineral, green apple and almond notes

Price: $42

Karla Brennan Picks:

Balletto Vineyards Sparkling Brut Rosé

Region: Sonoma County, California (Santa Rosa)

Taste: Notes of strawberry and cherry accented by flavors of toasted brioche

Price: $44

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (White from White)

Region: Napa County, California (Calistoga)

Taste: Dry and crisp with flavors of lemon, apple, pear and pineapple

Price: $41

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