November 29, 2018

Holiday Gift Guide 2018: The Best Zero-Dosage Champagnes and Sparkling Wines

by Katie Kelly Bell

Lower sugar (referred to as zero dosage and brut nature) Champagnes and sparkling wines continue to intrigue consumers and for good reason. Bryan Maletis owner and founder of Fat Cork Wine Club, a club devoted exclusively to Champagne, considers zero dosage and brut nature offerings to be “the purest form of Champagne.” Adds Maletis, “They show everything, both the flaws and the beauty. But they must be done correctly, and that starts in the vineyard. The vineyard has to be able to produce ripe enough grapes where the fruit shines through in the final cuvée. And then the winemaking must be precise because as I said before, any flaw is apparent.” For the consumer, the challenge is in decoding the label—which can be mind-numbingly confusing. The Champagne guidelines, according to the Comité Champagne, state that Brut Champagne must have than 12 grams of sugar per liter (most actually hover in the 6-8 g/L range). Bottles labeled Extra Brut can have anywhere from 0-6 grams of sugar per liter and anything labeled Brut Nature, Pas Dosé or Brut Zéro/Zéro Dosage has less than 3 grams sugar per liter. Sparkling wine is not required to adhere to the Champagne guidelines so consumers have to ask, but the bottlings featured in this column are all exceptional offerings that deliver on finesse, elegance and complexity–with 4 g/L of sugar or less.

Argyle Extended Tirage Brut, 2008, Oregon: Ten years is a long time to spend building something but the team at Argyle understands why time and patience matter in sparkling wine production. Aged for ten years on the lees (spent yeast) this sparkling has developed the kind of creamy complexity that cannot be achieved without the benefit of time. Threads of orange, biscuit and honey come together in a mouth-watering crisply complex bubbly. Open now, drink with friends. $80

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