A grower-Champagne with three centuries of history on the hallowed limestone hills of Charly-sur-Marne, the Baron-Fuenté NV Grand Reserve Brut is an unbeatable value, and only Wine Access can guarantee the provenance of these fleshy, supple bubbles that dance between flavors of pear, peach, and redcurrant before giving way to rich, toasty notes of fresh brioche and buttery shortbread.
The small, family-owned Baron Fuenté estate hit the bulls-eye with this complex, energetic bottling which has swooped up top marks from wine critics coast to coast—and all at half the price of standard grower-Champagnes. Wine & Spirits rated it a “Best Buy,” praising the golden bubbles “delicious,” and “compelling.” Meanwhile, Wine Enthusiast called it an “attractive” bottle with “zesty acidity.” Wine Spectator chimed in with “elegant and mouthwatering,” scoring it 91 points—a mark that puts this budget bottle in the same category as Champagnes two or three times the price, like Delamotte ($84), Gimonnet ($70), and Jacquesson ($90). At $35, this may be the best value Champagne on the market.
The Baron family has owned and cultivated land in Champagne since the 17th century. Today, the driving forces behind the 90-acre estate are siblings Sophie and Ignace Baron. For most of the estate’s history the family sold their bottlings locally, but in recent decades the next generation has taken an aggressive expansion approach, snapping up vineyards and taking control of production from field to glass—a rarity in value bottlings in Champagne, where big houses dominate the landscape. The domaine is situated smack in the center of their vineyards in the village of Charly-sur-Marne, where the marl, clay and sandy soils of the village provide the perfect home for Pinot Meunier.
Dominated by Pinot Meunier, the Grand Réserve Brut is a soft, supple bottling that combines the region’s three most popular grape varieties in a wine with dazzling flavor and exceptional balance. Pinot Meunier makes up 60% of the blend with the remainder split between Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Pinot Meunier-based Champagnes are known for their juicy fruit, delicacy, and immediate drinkability. The Grand Réserve bottling is based on 40% reserve wine dating back to 2009. The blend is disgorged every month—that way the Champagne remains fresh, with aromas of shortbread cookie and brioche.
With value and complexity in spades, this Grand Reserve Brut is a bottling that’s destined to disappear, and while you could try to hunt down a better deal the likelihood of finding one is slim to none. Here, we’ve hand-wrapped the best estate-grown Champagne we could find, coming directly to our shores from the estate’s French stronghold in perfect condition.