Sparkling wine sales rocket in December but the sheer volume available can make it difficult to get optimal value for money.
To help, here – in my final pre-Christmas post – is my guide to what I consider is currently drinking well right across the price points.
Beginning with two £10 Champagnes
So, let's start with two well made budget versions. Of the examples from the premium discounters, Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (£9.99 at Aldi) has excellent zippy, green apple and citrus acidity, long lasting bubbles and biscuity toastiness – all attractively supplemented by hints of orange and pear.
The Lidl equivalent Comte de Senneval Brut Champagne (£9.99 at Lidl) has more initial effervescence but the bubbles fade more quickly although this is probably the more rounded of the two champagnes. It has floral, red apple roundedness, pink grapefruit acidity and hints of ripe peach.
Those two champagnes are well ahead of anything else at this price point and your choice really is freshness and acidity (Aldi) or depth and roundedness (Lidl).
Ascending the price ladder
Step up a fiver though and you find the crisp yet substantial De Telmont Grande Reserve Brut Champagne (£14.99 at Majestic) with lemon and green apple acidity to contrast neatly with the spicy, savoury and brioche influences it supports so capably.
Next as we ascend the price ladder is an example of how terrific English wine has become. Balfour 1503 Classic Cuveé Brut (£18 equivalent bottle price at Tesco by the case) delivers red apple fruit underpinned by ripe peach-centred depth and lively acidity that will grace any Christmas event. This winery won a People's Choice Award at the Edinburgh Fizz Festival.
For another sparkling wine (as opposed to Champagne) here is the very first fizz made by Chile's Viña Montes. Pinot noir takes the lead and the traditional champagne method is used in Viña Montes Sparkling Angel Brut (£15.50 from Oddbins) but the result (possibly from its long “lees time”) is a very savoury wine that I can warmly applaud for its difference. Overall, it is has a nutty background to its baked apple and pithy orange fruit.
But returning to Champagne
Champagne Gremillet Selection Brut (currently £21.99 at www.virginwines.co.uk) starts with a relatively short mousse but quickly becomes pleasingly complex with suggestions of almond based biscuits that attractively round out its creamily textured, tangerine and melon fruit.
Grand Cru level champagne can be seriously expensive but the soft and floral Mailly Grand Cru Champagne (£26.95 at Berry Bros & Rudd) need not break the bank. Indeed, its skilfully crafted combination of citrus freshness, lemon puff depth and touch of ginger really does provide excellent value for money from just about the highest profile retailer you can get!
Or a pink Christmas perhaps
Inevitably, rosé champagne comes with a price premium but, to me, the red currant and strawberry eloquence of Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé (widely available around £48) fully justifies digging a little deeper. Luxuriate in its crisp mandarin acidity, lively mousse, creamy texture and underlying grapefruit and sherbet components.
And…… to you and yours
Whichever champagne you choose to give your own celebrations a little extra sparkle, do have a great time over Christmas and the New Year with generous helpings I trust of good will, figgy pudding and tasty wines.
See you all in January with the usual selection of great value wines and hot tips on what to buy with confidence.
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