Pop the cork on some fizz
ADD SOME SPARKLE: There is plenty of sparkling wine at good prices if you do not want Champagne, says Christine Austin.
HAT with the Jubilee and the Olympics, 2012 has been a fantastic year and while the fashion for belt tightening seems to be dragging on forever, there is no reason for the economic gloom to spill over into the excitement of Christmas. If we all pop the corks on sparkling wine this season then our collective spirits will boost the national feelgood factor into next year.
Champagne is the fizz of choice for many, but it doesn’t have to be; there are plenty of good sparkling wines from New Zealand, Italy, Spain and England, giving excellent flavours and in some cases a lot better value for money.
As always there are shelves full of half-price offers, some of them worth their full price but many masquerading as great value but in fact hiding thin, acidic wines. To save you disappointment I have done the hard work for you by lining up some of the best deals and tasting the wines. Here is my selection of the best buys this Christmas.
Prestige Cava Brut, NV, Spain, Marks and Spencer, down from £8.99 to two bottles for £14: A clear step up from many cavas, this has clean, citrusy fruit with a toasty flavour and a good finish.
Bouvet Ladubay Saumur NV, Loire, France, Majestic, down from £11.99 to £9.99 until February 4: Made in the Champagne method, by a company owned by Taittinger, but definitely using non-Champagne grapes of Chenin, this wine still musters crisp, apple-fresh fruit with layers of complexity. Aperitif-style
Crémant de Jura, France, Aldi, £6.99: Made from 100 per cent Chardonnay in exactly the same way as champagne, this wine has a soft creamy mousse and a fresh-tasting, crisp, dry finish. It tastes well above its price point and should be a staple for any large gathering.
Tesco Finest Bisol Prosecco, down from £9.99 to £8.49 until January 1: A family-friendly fizz with balanced floral aromatics and a fizzy, frothy taste that ends almost dry. Pour this for large gatherings and for present-opening on Christmas morning.
£10 to £15
Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV, New Zealand, Majestic, down from £19.99 to £14.99 until January 30: Pure elegance and complexity makes this well worth its price. It has layers of toast and lime marmalade with a style that could come from Reims.
Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne, down from £19.99 to £14.99 until January 1: Yet another award in the International Wine Challenge for this fizz. Balanced, yeasty and long with a clear citrus finish this is a supermarket champagne you can be proud to pour.
Louis Chaurey Champagne NV, Marks and Spencer down from £30 to £15 until January 1: This is cracking value at £15. It has good concentration with meaty, yeasty complexity and won’t let you down if you pour it as an aperitif this Christmas.
Canard Duchêne Brut NV, Majestic down from £25 to £15 until February 4: This is definitely a brand to watch since quality is on the up while prices are still very reasonable. Treat yourself to this clean, elegant wine with hints of toasty
Champagne is the fizz of choice for many, but it doesn’t
have to be.
complexity and maybe keep a couple of bottles for next summer.
£15 to £20
Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs Champagne, down from £20.09 to £18 until January 1: This is a broad-flavoured champagne, full of yeasty, toasty notes and big enough to accompany substantial canapés.
Jacques Boncoeur Réserve Brut NV, Champagne, Bon Coeur Fine Wine (01765 688200) down from £19.49 to £18.49: A stylish champagne, specially blended for this Masham-based merchant. Mainly Pinot Noir with just enough Chardonnay to add elegance and finesse.
Chapel Down NV Vintage Reserve, England, Waitrose £19.99: Keep the flag flying with a glass of this floral and apple crunchy sparkling wine from the vineyards of Kent.
£20 to £30
G H Mumm Cordon Rouge NV, Tesco, down from £31.99 to £23.99 until January 1: Another brand which is now hitting its price point with confidence and quality. A broad-flavoured fizz with plenty of body and toasty notes, drink this as an aperitif, then carry it through to dinner.
Oudinot Vintage 2005 Champagne, Marks and Spencer, down from £29 to £24 until January 1: I have been a