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Find the Best Champagne on Any Budget

Need to load up on bubbly, but clueless about cost and quality? Not to worry! Here’s how to find the best Champagne and sparkling wine for every budget.
Best Champagne on Any Budget by Wine Folly

Find the Best Champagne on Any Budget

There’s no doubt about it: trying to find the best Champagne can be an intimidating thing. While it’s exciting to traipse through the sparkling wine aisle, it can turn stressful pretty fast when you see the French names, opulent branding, and hefty price tags. You ask yourself,

“How much should I be paying? Is it any good? Will people actually like it?”

You panic, grab the prettiest label, and speed off to your celebration, hoping it tastes as good as it looks. We’ve been there, done that. That’s why we wrote this helpful guide full of tips and tricks on how to avoid common mishaps and get the best taste for your dollar. Think of this like a worry-free guide to buying the best Champagne (and sparkling wine) for your budget.

Table of Contents

  1. $0–$10 – Mass Consumption
  2. $10–$20 – Basic, But Delicious
  3. $20–$30 – Getting Sophisticated
  4. $30–$50 – Brand-Name Champagne
  5. $50–$100 – Vintage Territory
  6. $100+ – Prestige

Best Champagne Brands Under $10 by Wine Folly
Large mechanized production makes sparkling wine possible under $10.

$0–$10 – Mass Consumption

So, you’re buying for a crowd. Or maybe you’re switching out your PBR for something a little more special. Or maybe you just need to bring something. We’re not going to lie to you; it’s not easy to find quality in this price range!

If you can find Champagne here, it’s definitely the sweeter kind. The kind that will give you a headache. (Though, drinking a whole bottle of vintage Champagne will do that too!) Still, there are a few affordable gems from lesser-known regions and producers who have mastered efficiency and flavor. The first to come to mind: Spain and their lean and lively version of bubbly, Cava.

What You Get: Cava, Prosecco, Domestic Sparklers

Some Helpful Tips
  • When in doubt, go with Cava for an excellent quality-to-value pick.
  • Make sure the wine is Brut or Extra Brut to avoid headaches (unless it’s Prosecco).
  • Keep in mind that wines made with the tank method (like Prosecco) are significantly less bubbly than real Champagne—by 3-4 atmospheres of pressure.
  • Look to regions not named Champagne, but still producing wine through the same method. Look for labels that have Traditional Method, Metodo Classico, Méthode Champenoise or Méthode Classique on them.
  • Love Prosecco? Great! Base model Prosecco shouldn’t be more than $12.

 

A Few Examples
  1. Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava
  2. Paul Cheneau “Lady of Spain” Brut Cava
  3. Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Washington Sparkling Wine
  4. Riondo “Spago Nero” Extra Dry Prosecco
  5. Lunetta by Cavit Brut Prosecco

Best Champagne Under $20 by Wine Folly
Sparkling wines like Crémant d’Alsace and Cava offer tremendous value for the price.

$10–$20 – Basic, But Delicious

Now we’re getting somewhere. If you’re looking for a good sparkler for a good price, this is your sweet spot. This is where you find your crowd-pleasers – a drink you’ll toast to and actually want to keep in your mouth. You bring this to share with your friends, and it shows you care. Who’s the MVP of the party? You are (or at least you will be.) No, you won’t find any real Champagne here. Not the biscuity, nutty, rich, or aged flavors that come with extended aging.

What you will get are outstanding fresh, fruity, drink-now sparklers that pair with a surprising number of bites. Though, if you play it smart, you might find a decent “Reserva” Cava or creamy South African or domestic bubbly that will surprise you!

What You Get: Crémant (Good), Prosecco (Good), Domestic Sparklers (Good), Cap Classique (Good), Cava Reserva (Good-Great), Sekt (Decent)

Some Helpful Tips
  • Great finds abound in lesser-known regions. (Cap Classique from South Africa; Sekt from Germany/Austria; Cava from Spain).
  • Crémant is the more gentle, affordable French alternative to Champagne. Learn more about Crémant.
  • Like it sweet and fruity? Look for Rosé, Cap Classique, Prosecco, or the term “Extra-Dry.”
  • Sweet and fruity wines are great for stand-alone drinking, toasts, and as an apéritif.
  • Like it lean and dry? Go with Brut, Extra Brut, and Brut Nature styles or Cava.
  • Dry styles are great for pairing with foods. (Nom nom.)

 

A Few Examples
  1. Treveri Brut “Blanc de Blancs” Washington Sparkling Wine
  2. Gruet “Blanc de Noirs” Brut New Mexico Sparkling Wine
  3. Gloria Ferrer “Blanc de Noirs” Carneros Sparkling Wine
  4. Graham Beck Brut Cap Classique
  5. Antech Brut Crémant de Limoux
  6. Louis Bouillot “Perle d’Aurore” Brut Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne
  7. Lucien Albrecht Brut Rose Crémant d’Alsace
  8. Chateau Gaudrelle Brut Crémant d’Loire
  9. Sorelle Bronca Extra Dry Prosecco di Valdobbiadene
  10. Ca’ Furlan Extra Dry Prosecco
  11. Rotari Brut Trento DOC
  12. Juve Y Camps “Reserva Famillia” Brut Nature Cava
  13. Avinyo Reserva Brut Cava
  14. Castellroig Brut Cava

Best Champagne under 30 by Wine Folly
Expect excellent quality sparkling wines from all places but Champagne.

$20–$30 – Getting Sophisticated

What does $10 more get you? About as close as you get to Champagne quality without paying for it. As this is a step up, these wines are for events where you need to do exactly that. Impressive wine that impresses. Perfect for your boss’ place, a fancy dinner party, or a sophisticated shindig where seemingly everyone knows something about wine. (Think anyone in New York or equally self-important cities.)

Bonus: You can actually buy at least one quality cooperative Champagne (What’s a cooperative?) by Nicolas Feuillatte for $29.99. While we have some examples, at this point, it’s useful to do a little extra homework on your smartphone (see tips below).

What You Get: Domestic Sparklers (Good), Reserva or Gran Reserva Cava (Excellent), Crémant (Excellent), Franciacorta (Good), Blanc de Blanc (Great), Sekt (Good)

Some Helpful Tips
  • Do some research on how long the wine has been aged on the lees. This is a pretty good indication of quality. For example, vintage Champagne must be aged a minimum of 36 months.
  • Try the Italian Champagne alternatives, including Franciacorta DOCG or Trento DOC. Both are Chardonnay-based sparklers from Italy.
  • Look up the varieties used to get a better idea of the taste profile you’re getting.
  • Blanc de Blancs or Chardonnay-dominant? Expect more apples, starfruit, beeswax, and honeycomb.
  • Blanc de Noirs or Pinot-dominant? Expect white cherry, white raspberry, mushroom, and a touch more funk.
  • Macabeo, Xarello, or Parellada? These wines are typically leaner with quince, lime, and green apple notes.

 

A Few Examples
  1. Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine
  2. Scharffenberger “Excellence” Mendocino County Brut Sparkling Wine
  3. Domaine Carneros Brut California Sparkling Wine
  4. Schramsberg “Mirabelle” California Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine
  5. Ferrari Brut Trento DOC
  6. Bellavista “Alma Cuvée” Brut Franciacorta DOCG
  7. Loxarel MM Gran Reserva Brut Nature Cava
  8. Nicolas Feuillatte “Réserve” Brut Champagne

Best Champagne under 50 by Wine Folly
Introductory Champagne is finally attainable, but you can also find incredible Italian “Metodo Classico” in this range.

$30–$50 – Brand-Name Champagne

Welcome to the big leagues. Base-model, non-vintage Champagnes from the classic houses (Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Taittinger, Piper-Heidsieck) are now available to you. However, if you stick to non-Champagne regions, you’re in for a real treat: top-quality, single-vintage, extended tirage examples are easy to find and can be truly transcendent.

There are limited domestic producers at this level, but we can assure you they tend to make it great. These wines are not just for anyone. They’re for people you care about. Partners, parents, siblings, and good friends. Definitely not for your boss. You’re bringing it and opening it with them as a special treat.

What You Get: Champagne (Base-Model, Non-Vintage), Gran Reserva Cava (Top-Tier), Domestic Sparklers (Excellent), Franciacorta (Excellent), Trento (Excellent)

Some Helpful Tips
  • Not sure where to begin? Here are profiles of the biggest Champagne houses:
    • Veuve Clicquot: Signature ripe, rich baked apple flavors.
    • Moët & Chandon: Fruity, sweetish baked apple and lemon flavors.
    • Taittinger: Refined and lean yellow plum, white cherry, and bready notes.
    • Piper-Heidsieck: Lean, salty, smoky, clean, and delicious.
    • Deutz: Rich, buttery, marzipan-like flavors.
  • Even though you can get good Champagne at this level, Italian Methodo Classico wines from the Italian Alps easily stand up to the big names. Look for Franciacorta from Lombardy or Trento from Trentino-Alto Adige.
  • We could go on about Cava (and will), but at this range, you can get top-tier Gran Reserva and all its baked almond and apple-flavored glory.
  • Up-and-coming Champagne region to investigate for value: Côte des Bar / Aube

 

A Few Examples
  1. Taittinger “Reserve” Brut Champagne
  2. Deutz “Classic” Brut Champagne
  3. Louis Roederer Brut “Premier” Champagne
  4. Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne
  5. Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Prestige” Franciacorta
  6. Schramsberg “Blanc de Blancs” Brut North Coast Sparkling Wine
  7. Altemasi “Pas Dosé” Brut Nature Trento DOC
  8. Ferrari “Perlé” Trento DOC

Best Champagne under 100 by Wine Folly
Fantastic Champagne of all kinds can be had for under $100.

$50–$100 – Vintage Territory

The “oh s***” wine. The wine for husbands and wives…for births, milestones, and moments. If people don’t understand the magnitude of what they’re drinking, it’s your sworn duty to tell them. If you have dear friends who know their wine, break it out. These aren’t wines you drink so much as the ones you think about and remember. Not only do you start finding vintage champagne in this price range, you also get access to some really fantastic grower Champagne and amazing non-vintage and rosé Champagne examples. If you have any one of these bottles on hand, life is very good for you and you should take a minute to acknowledge that.

What You Get: Vintage Champagne (Great to Excellent), Non-Vintage Champagne (Excellent), Blanc de Blancs (Excellent), Blanc de Noirs (Excellent), Grower Champagne (Varies), Premier Cru and Grand Cru Champagne (Site Specific Champagne)

Some Helpful Tips
  • Independent research is crucial at this point. Good places to read free reviews include Decanter and Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
  • Depending on the regions in Champagne, there are different styles.
    • Montagne de Reims – Classic, rich blends with lots of tertiary notes.
    • Côte des Blancs – Home to the top Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyard sites in all of Champagne.
    • Vallée de la Marne – Pinot Noir/Meunier dominant region with a funky, mushroom-forward personality. Great for wine geeks.
  • Never heard of Grower Champagne? It’s sparkling wine crafted by the same people who grow the grapes. It embodies the style of individual vineyards and the individuals who make the cuvées (sparkling wine blends). Read more about grower Champagne here.

 

A Few Examples
  1. Bollinger “Special Cuvée” Brut Champagne
  2. Pol Roger Brut Champagne
  3. Ruinart “Blanc de Blancs” Brut Champagne
  4. Tarlant “Cuvée Louis” Brut Champagne
  5. Hervieux Dumez “Blanc de Blancs” Brut Champagne
  6. Egly-Ouriet “Tradition” Grand Cru Brut Champagne

Best Champagne Prestige Tete de Cuvee
At around $150 you can acquire the very best Champagne from the finest vintages, best vineyard sites, and those that spend the longest time on the lees.

$100+ – Prestige

Oh ho, we’ve got a badass over here! You did really good this year, or so far in this life, and it’s time to take a moment to taste success. Or, at least drink like you’re going to die tomorrow… These are the wines that kings and queens drink. Literally.

In Champagne, they call them “tête de cuvée” or “top of the batch.” They are the most obsessively conceived wines the chef de cave makes. Some producers, like Krug or Salon, only make a tête de cuvée, aging them on tirage (the dead yeast particles called “lees”) up to seven years before they launch in the market. All that time waiting in the cellar is part of the reason these wines are so expensive.

The style of top-dollar Champagnes is often rich, fruity, creamy, and nutty all at once. Of course, you don’t always get this style at this price. It’s true that most of the large brands will opt for a toasty, biscuity style, but many smaller producers choose to champion the fruit of their Grand Cru vineyard with a leaner Champagne.

So again, read the tasting notes. To give you a leg up, since I know you’ll ask, here are a few Champagne brands that consistently deliver an oxidative, leesy, aged Champagne at this price:

 

A Few Examples
  1. Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” Brut Champagne
  2. Billecart-Salmon “Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart” Brut Champagne
  3. Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siècle” Vintage Brut Champagne
  4. Piper-Heidsieck “Cuvée Rare” Vintage Brut Champagne
  5. Nicolas Feuillatte Cuvee Palmes d’Or Vintage Brut Champagne
  6. Perrier Jouët “Belle Epoque” Brut Champagne
  7. Cristal by Louis Roederer Vintage Brut Champagne
  8. Dom Pérignon by Moët & Chandon Vintage Brut Champagne
  9. Pol Roger “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” Vintage Brut Champagne
  10. Krug Vintage Brut Champagne
  11. Jacques Selosse “Substance” Blanc de Blancs Vintage Champagne
  12. Salon Blanc de Blancs Vintage Brut Champagne

 
The Champagne brands listed are to get you started and represent mostly large, well-distributed wines that are available in most markets. Keep searching!

This article was co-authored by Vincent Rendoni and Madeline Puckette.


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About Bob Lucas-Clark

Bob Lucas-Clark

I have transitioned from a successful corporate marketing career to starting a successful online business. My focus is helping people start their own online businesses. At the same time I am thrilled to have my own blog about one of my true passions: Cooking, Food & Wine. Enjoy my blog and thank you for stopping by.

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