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The Best of Show battle was the closest and most intense ever, a testament to the high calibre of 2014 contenders. Three stellar wines were on the final ballot, and our remarkable champagne winner edged red category champs Lapierre Morgon and Sette Ponti Crognolo. Quality and value mattered in the final analyses: a grand cru champagne for $55? Too good to be true, but here it is.
There are only 17 villages with grand cru status in the chilly Champagne region, and fruit from these deep-chalk terroirs presents extra finesse and higher expression. Although a non-vintage bubbly, Le Mesnil takes 80 percent of its blend from the highly-rated 2008 vintage. It’s an all-chardonnay brut, with proper nutty, brioche aromas of bottle-fermented and aged champagne. The palate is fresh and racy with flavours of apples, citrus, and minerals punctuated by lively bubbles and pillowy mousse. The combination of richness, high acidity, and bubbly texture are central to pairing with seared scallops, tuna tartare, or best-quality Chinese takeout. It’s an astounding value, and smart drinkers will stock up for the year.