Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Best fizz buys for New Year's Eve

There are serious Champagne bargains to be had at this time of year – but be wary of cut price Champagnes which appear out of nowhere and try a single bottle before you buy a case. A safer option is to look for offers on names that you have seen around all year.

Possibly the best sparkling wine bargain of all is Philippe Michel Crémant du Jura 2013 - £7.29, Aldi. 100% Chardonnay, made in the same way as Champagne and with great freshness and lively fruit.

Prosecco is an unstoppable force in UK wine retailing now. Here are a couple that I think offer more than most in terms of flavour and interest.
Follador Extra Dry Cuvée Torri de Credazzo 2014 - £14.99, Waitrose.
Majestic’s new own-label range, Definition, has a very decent Prosecco Brut NV for £9.74 (as part of a mixed case of 6).

Cheap Cava can be very dreary, but there are exceptions.
Cava Conde de Haro Extra Brut - £11.95 from The Wine Society
Unusually, this is from Rioja (rather than Penedès), made by renowned Bodegas Muga. Creamy mousse and citrussy, slightly pithy fruit.
Cava Prestige Brut NV – on offer at £7 (usually £10) from M&S
This is good value on offer, with nuanced flavours and a lively mousse.

English sparkling
Hattingley Valley Classic Cuvée NV - £28.99 from The Wine Reserve, Cobham (and other independents); £30, Waitrose
My favourite of the newer members of the growing band of ambitious and successful English fizzes. Plenty of class and flavour, in a style that is 100% English.

Waitrose is the biggest supermarket supporter of English wines, so if you’d like to see in the New Year with something local, they are the place to head for.

If you’re not squeamish about putting a supermarket own label on the table, they offer great quality and value for money. Tesco Finest Premier Cru NV is just £14 now, for example, and is made by quality-conscious co-operative Union Champagne. I also found lots to like in Morrison’s M Signature Champagne Brut, reduced from £19 to £15 currently.

Charles Mignon Premier Cru Brut Rosé NV - £30 (usually £35) M&S
Rosé Champagne so often offers no more enjoyment than the regular Brut, yet always costs more. But I enjoyed this for its combination of definite red fruit flavour and proper lees-aged Champagne character.

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru NV - £19.99 (usually £29.99) at Waitrose. Majestic have the broadly similar Duval-Leroy Brut NV for £15.99 when you buy any 6 bottles.
A pretty, appealing Champagne that would be perfect for aperitifs and parties.
If you are set on a particular grande marque Champagne, a quick squint at before you buy would be a good idea. Enter the name of your chosen fizz for a list of which retailers offer the best price now, both by the case and by the bottle.
Fizz lovers in a hurry should also check out online merchant  They offer same day delivery of grandes marques Champagnes and many prestige cuvées within London – next day delivery outside London. Some of their offers actually make them the best price available at times, especially if you are buying by the case.

Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV – best price currently is £32.79, Waitrose
One of the most elegant of grandes marques, that somehow combines wonderful flavour with poise and lightness of touch.
Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV - £29.98, Majestic (as part of a mixed 6 bottles),
Elegantly structured, with creamy mousse and a wonderful richness.
Bollinger Special Cuvée NV - £30, Tesco
For Bond fans, or anyone who enjoys full-flavoured, rich and savoury Champagnes.

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