Nice post. But I disagree that the Kirkland Champagne is in the same league as quite a few $35-$40 bottles. Piper Heidsieck is better. As is Pol Roger and many lesser known from smaller producers.
I haven’t tasted Veuve Clicquot in a few years, but it had descended into bland, overpriced fizz. Thankfully, they hired a gifted young chief winemaker a couple of years ago who I understand has revitalized the brand. He did the same for Champagne Mumm, which before I wouldn’t have bathed in. The $7 Kirkland Prosecco is of similar quality to the previous version of Mumm. I am curious about the more expensive one, though.
But the Kirkland is quite decent for $20, which is an amazing price. I bought a bottle today for New Year’s Eve.