Your guide to the best wines for the festive season begins here.
If you’re planning on a Christmas drinks party, then bubbles have to be part of the picture. Here are some of my sure fire hits that won’t have your guests looking for the nearest pot plant to empty their drinks into – but which won’t be overly demanding on the pocket either.
I’ve also included some more expensive recommendations that might be a stretch for a party budget, but that I would certainly be happy to sip or to serve on any occasion over Christmas.
Sparkling Chardonnay Crémant du Jura - £7.49, Aldi
This has to be one of the best sparkling wine bargains around – and the fact that is has been included by the Association of Wine Educators as one of their 100 AWEsome Wines 2016 (see http://www.wineeducators.com/100-awesome-wines/ for the full downloadable list) tells you that it punches well above its weight. Light, fresh, fine sparkling wine made in the same way as Champagne from the little-known Jura region in eastern France.
Franciacorta Brut - £8.99, Lidl
This is part of Lidl’s Christmas collection, one of their “when it’s gone it’s gone” selections. It has lovely creamy mousse and appley fruit, a touch riper than Champagne, coming as it does from northern Italy.
Calvet Crémant de Bordeaux Brut Rosé - £11.99, Ocado
Pink bubbles certainly help to make everything more festive and this bottle, made from Cabernet Franc, has a lovely creamy mousse and a refreshing leafy edge to the fruit.
Montes Sparking Angel Brut NV - £15.50, Oddbins
This is a blend of two of the traditional Chamapagne varieties, Pinor Noir and Chardonnay, and is made in the same way as Champagne. But the warmer Chilean climate makes for riper fruit flavours, along with toasty, nutty almond and even a hint of marmalade.
Definition Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV - £19.99 (mix six price), Majestic
I love the pure Chardonnay fruit, mineral finish, and the classic Blanc de Blancs profile of this Majestic own label Champagne. But I really don’t care for the actual label, so this is perhaps best kept in the ice bucket when not being poured.
Greyfriars Rosé Reserve 2013 - £21 from greyfriarsvineyard.co.uk
Keep it local with this award winning traditional method English fizz, made from vines grown on the Hog’s Back south of Guildford. Finely structured with poise and precision.
Furleigh Estate Dorset Coast Special Reserve NV - £22.50, Waitrose
Another English sparkler, this time from Dorset. Aromas of shortbread, peaches and cream lead onto a lively, fruity palate.
Waitrose Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut NV - £22.99, Waitrose
Good depth of flavour, nice linearity and an underlying minerality mean that this Champagne tastes much more expensive than it is.
Champagne Oudinot Brut 2008 - £30, M&S
Like all its wines, this Champagne is exclusive to M&S and delivers rich, savoury, egg-custard and baked apple fruit. The full flavours make this one for the table rather than an aperitif.
Champagne Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2007 Grand Cru - £33.99, Waitrose
Really lovely stuff, with pretty fruit, length and elegance, along with those bready, yeasty flavours that denote lengthy ageing on the lees.