When we think of festive celebrations and year-end parties, what immediately comes to mind is champagne and how much of it we’re planning to drink to ring in the new year. I’m quite certain we’re going to need plenty of it to drink away this trying year!

If you’re thinking of marking the occasion with bubbly that’s not from the list of usual suspects, you’re in for a treat — there have been quite a few new launches that are just as delightful as bigger-name brands, and possibly cheaper too.

Here, Options spotlights four unique labels who are doing great work to champion sustainability.

Champagne Vilmart & Cie - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

Champagne Vilmart & Cie

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Heralded as the poor man’s Krug and best champagne grower by champagne guru Tom Stevenson, Champagne Vilmart & Cie is an artisan champagne producer currently run by fifth-generation producer Laurent Champs, who manages over 11 hectares of vineyards located on the terroir of Rilly la Montagne in France. Its grape varietals feature mainly Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%).

What makes Vilmart so unique is that it vinifies its cuvées in wood for 10 months and leave them to age for up to eight years, which gives the wines their particular character, providing body, fruit, roundness and subtlety. Another unusual characteristic is the absence of malolactic fermentation, which lends a unique blend of freshness, tautness and subtlety, as well as the pronounced identity of the aromas.

Champs is committed to crafting champagnes while protecting the biodiversity and ecosystem, without using chemical fertilisers. The champagnes are certified High Environmental Value (HVE) and Viticulture Durable en Champagne (VDC).

For the non-vintage range, the Grand Reserve ($78) boasts a high proportion of Pinot Noir (70%), offering a bouquet of intensity and character, while the Grand Cellier ($93) is crafted with Chardonnay (70%) for more boldness and elegance.

For a more exquisite choice, the Grand Cellier d’Or ($110) and Coeur de Cuvées ($168) are made from 50- to 60-year-old vines, composed of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir, and matured in 228-litre oak barrels between four and six years.

The Blanc de Blancs ($308) embodies Champs’ vision of champagne — purity, precision and elegance — using 60-year-old Chardonnay grapes from its finest plot and ageing them for seven years to gently express their full aromatic potential and minerality.

Bubbly from Champagne Vilmart & Cie starts from as little as $78, and is available at Malt & Wine Asia Singapore.

Nyetimber - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

Nyetimber

England’s leading producer of sparkling wine for over 30 years, Nyetimber entered Singapore in 2019 and is available at selected bars and fine dining restaurants like two- Michelin-starred Jaan and three-Michelin-starred Odette.

Led by head winemaker Cherie Spriggs — who was awarded “Sparkling Winemaker of the Year” at the International Wine Challenge 2018 — estate-grown Nyetimber specialises in three celebrated grape varieties: 57% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir and 12% Pinot Meunier.

Nyetimber wines are blessed with very crisp and clear flavours and balanced acidity, thanks to the cool climate region of South England, home to 260 hectares of Nyetimber vineyards spread across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent.

Crafted using traditional methods, the wines are aged for extended periods of time (typically three years), allowing generous post-disgorgement time before their release. All of these processes are done on site, within Nyetimber’s own pressing centre and winery.

Currently, Nyetimber carries about half a dozen sparkling wine variants, from a Classic Cuvée to a premium Prestige Cuvée, and Blanc de Blancs (our favourite). For the festive season, we recommend the 1086 Rosé Prestige Cuvée ($450) from Analogue Wine Merchant.

Found - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

Found

Leading British retailer Marks & Spencer has unveiled a new and affordable wine range in Singapore stores called Found, with prices ranging between $29.90 and $39.90. Curated by in-house wine experts Sue Daniels and Belin- da Kleinig, this growing collection of wines put a spotlight on small wineries from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, South Africa and South America.

The new range champions rare grapes (such as Roditis, Mauzac and Feteasca Regala), styles that break tradition (a rosé Vinho Verde) and even features a supermarket first — a single varietal Nerello Cappuccio.

Sustainability when sourcing has also been a priority for the Brit brand. All of the wines in the new range are vegan, in line with M&S’s pledge to have a 100% vegan wine range by 2022. Furthermore, many of the wineries involved have advanced sustainability credentials, such as taking part in carbon offsetting schemes, water management programmes or organic and biodynamic farming.

One of the range’s featured sparkling wines is the Blanquette de Limoux NV ($39.90), which is blended with 90% Mauzac, 5% Chenin Blanc, 5% Chardonnay. The region that it’s grown in, Limoux, is actually claimed as the birthplace of sparkling wine It is said that Benedictine monks from the Saint-Hilaire Monastery discovered the secret in 1531 and local winemakers have been perfecting the art ever since.

Here, the local grape variety Mauzac is the star, making up at least 90% of every blend of Blanquette. With distinctive aromas of freshly cut grass, it lends itself perfectly for this crisp, dry and biscuity traditional sparkling wine.

Telmont Champagne - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

Telmont Champagne

Eco-conscious champagne brand Telmont Champagne strives to preserve terroir and biodiversity, and reduce wastage and increase recyclability in its packaging while committing to using 100% renewable energy, reducing greenhouse emissions in its logistics chain, and increasing the traceability and transparency of its products.

Founded in 1912, the Telmont Champagne House — previously known as ‘J de Telmont’ — is situated in Damery, near Épernay in France.  The house was first established in 1912 by Henri Lhôpital, a local winegrower who opened it in the wake of the champagne riots. Today, it is helmed by head of viticulture Bertrand Lhôpital, who is working hard to make Telmont a 100% organic house using production methods with reduced impact on its natural surroundings.

Co-owned and managed by the Rémy Cointreau group, which purchased a majority share in October 2020, Telmont champagnes are ethereal yet structured, balanced between tension and freshness.

The collection includes Réserve Brut ($80), Réserve Rosé ($92), Blanc de Blancs Vintage 2012 ($118), Blanc de Blancs Vinothèque 2005 ($315), and Vinothèque 2012 ($115). They are available for purchase at Bottles & Bottles, The Tatler Bar and The Atelier. You can also enjoy Telmont Champagne as part of your dining menu at Casa Restaurant, Tippling Club and Artemis.


MAIN PHOTO: Champagne Vilmart & Ci