As holidays approach, five hot shops for buying Champagne

Plus, learn how to saber a bottle with a sword (or chef’s knife)

We may be done with Thanksgiving, but the holiday season is not done with us.

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are weeks away, the parties are only going to get bigger, and no drink says celebration quite like Champagne. In our December issue, Jennifer Sollinger at the St. Regis shows how to saber a bottle with a sword. It’s a thrilling party trick, if done properly. As for buying Champagne, you have choices, and below are five hot spots to find some fine bubbly.

Cellar 13
3765 Roswell Road
Much like the rest of his store, John Passman has put together an impressive boutique selection that emphasizes small production, estate-bottled grower Champagnes. Whereas large Champagne houses like Moet et Chandon, which produces Dom Perignon, and Veuve Clicquot source their grapes from as many as 80 vineyards, grower Champagne is produced by a single farmer with grapes from a single vineyard and then bottled on site.
Grab that J.L. Vergnon Conversation Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Brut ($40). With notes of crisp golden apple and a natural, elegant sweetness, it’s a superb, underrated Grand Cru bottle.

pH Wine Merchant
200 Peachtree Hills Ave
The location (nestled in the quiet Peachtree Hills section of Atlanta near Peachtree Battle Shopping Center) may be obscure, but pH Wine Mechant means business. If you can pull yourself away from its superb, high-end Burgundy and Bordeaux selection, you’ll discover a wall of grower Champagne priced between $49 and $69. In the event the 1999 Henri Goutorbe Collection Rene Grand Cru ($189.99) doesn’t mesh with your budget, check out any “Special Club” bottle, a special release tasted, judged, and chosen by select grower-producers in France.

Highland Fine Wine
1402 North Highland Ave
After running Murphy’s wine program for ten years, Nick Salpekar took over this neighborhood shop down the street in January of 2011. Consider toasting to a Henri Goutorbe Grand Cru Brut Rose ($59.99), which looks like a frosty, strawberry slushy but tastes of crisp darker fruits like blueberry and cherry.

Perrine’s Wine Shop
1168 Howell Mill Rd
Perrine Prieur grew up in Burgundy, France, two hours away from Champagne region, and like her childhood, we envy her expansive Champagne selection. She carries a mix of magnums and cuvee prestige bottles like Salon and Pol Roger “Cuvée Winston Churchill,” as well as lower range bottles. Check out the luscious cherry and vibrant floral notes on the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose ($85).

3 Parks
880 Glenwood Ave
This Glenwood Park shop is now owned and operated by the same minds behind The Shed just a few stores down the walkway. Featuring a “Village Wine” program where customers can buy wines on tap in jugs, it boasts an eclectic and affordable array of international bubbles—prosecco from Italy, crémants from France, cava’s from Spain. For those who tend to avoid bubbles, try the Australian red Chook Sparkling Shiraz ($18) that’s primed with savory, dark fruits.