He runs a Champagne-centric bar and cellar in Portland, Oregon. She is the doyenne of New York’s wine bar-cum-wine education center Corkbuzz, which offers bottles of bubbles at 50 percent off nightly from 10 p.m. Beyond being bon vivants with two of the coolest jobs in the country, they share one important trait in common: They both want us to drink more Champagne. F&W got them together to distill their collective expertise down to 12 must-try bottles that any budding Champagne fanatic should seek out this season (and, really, any time of the year).
“This is an exciting project,” says Speer. “It’s like giving people a snapshot of what Champagne is all about.” Maniec was stoked to highlight Champagne’s versatility and range of styles. “You can get so much crazier with your pairings with Champagne than you can with still wines,” she says. “If we’re talking about pure, lean styles, you’re in shellfish and scallop territory; then, some of the richer styles like certain saignée rosés—those will work all the way through something like a grilled hanger steak.”
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Their back-and-forth banter produced a definitive guide to the best of the région champenoise that spans the spectrum from established Houses to small grower-producers, from non-vintage (a blend of years) to vintage-dated, mono-cépage (produced from a single grape variety) wines to blends of all seven Champagne grapes, bone-dry styles to slightly sweet cuvées—and each sommelier was clued into a new bottle by his or her counterpart along the way.