Bubbles never go out of style, nor are they season-specific. Yet a glass of champagne consumed during the warmest months refreshes with its brisk saline bite in a way no other sparkling wine can emulate. The combination of cool climate, chalky soil, classic grapes, traditional-method bottle fermentation and long production history, creates an untouchable synergy.
Here are seven lovely champagnes under $100 to see you through the end of summer—and beyond.
Billecart-Salmon wines are what sparkling rosé dreams are made of. This iconic producer specializes in pink wines, turning out delicately colored fizz in hues of salmon and dried rose petal. The fragrance is just as alluring with aromas led by melon, flowers and tart raspberry. This deservedly popular wine comprises a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier.
One doesn’t hear the phrase “solera” used in conjunction with champagne too often, but it is indeed a burgeoning trend. This nonvintage cuvée derives 60% of its base from a blend of old vintages—the solera of the house—with 40% from recent vintages to bolster and lift the wine. A blanc de blancs of 100% chardonnay, this bottle overdelivers on price with lemon curd, brioche and floral spray notes on the nose and palate.
A fact of having champagne taste on a beer budget is that it’s difficult to find excellent wine in the sub-$50 category. Seldom do the bottles live up to the complex, toasty, taut, crisp benchmarks of the category. Enter the Taittinger’s “La Francaise,” which ages on its lees for four years, or almost double what the appellation requires. The extra cellar time imbues youthful flavors of apple, ginger and citrus with biscuit and brioche without obscuring the through line of chalky salinity.
It’s hard to believe this wine is on sale for less than $40, especially given the fruit for this nonvintage blanc de blancs comes from grand cru village Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Look for flavors of orchard fruit—think pears and white peach—along with ripe mandarin citrus, wrapped in a toasted croissant crust. The 100% chardonnay grapes offer a brisk mineral character and a snappy finish.
When you need a bottle for a dinner party that looks timeless and elegant, grab the Pol Roger. High quality, and with a $45 price tag, you won’t mind sharing with friends. Equal parts pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, from 30 different crus, encompass the blend. Notes of pastry, lemon and pear mingle with brioche and dried nuts on the creamy palate.
Agrapart et Fils, located in Avize, France, dates back to 1894. A grower-producer, they have opted to produce and bottle estate wines since their founding, unlike many peers who are new to the Récoltant Manipulant game. The name “7 Crus” references the seven Cote des Blancs villages from which they source chardonnay for the blend, though the composition has changed to include 10% pinot noir. The pinot brings a hint of red fruit and palate breadth to grapefruit, peach and almond flavors—and a lovely, creamy mousse lingers in the mouth well past bedtime.
A favorite in the wine industry, Pierre Peters is a grower-producer known for his efforts at sustainability in the family vineyard in Le Mesnil. The NV reserve made of 100% chardonnay offers purity of fruit, partially a result of vinifying in stainless steel. Technical notes aside, it’s a delicious wine that shows impressive tension, elegance and focus with the energy and grace of a hummingbird. Flowers, lemon peel and chalk balance against almond brioche notes on the long finish.