Your best-buy supermarket champagne… here’s the festive fizz factor scores

Champagne bubbles in a glass

supermarket prosecco supermarket champagneYup – that’s me on this page. Sadly not the pretty thing in the middle, but the old blob on the left wearing a grey cardie. You’ll see we ran a supermarket festive fizz taste test … here’s the supermarket champagne ratings. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Wm Morrison Champagne Brut NV supermarket champagneWm Morrison Champagne Brut NV (Morrisons, £15, down from £19 until January 1st)  This is a silver winner at the International Wine Challenge and is a champagne which is happy in its soul. It has honeysuckle, the juicy tease of ripe red apples, vanilla, cream cake and a summer breeze on the nose. It is soft and subtle with gentle flavours and acidity and the juiciness stays with you long after the last sip. Which is what we want, right?
Fizz Factor: 5/5


Lidl Champagne Comte De Senneval

Champagne Comte De Senneval (Lidl, £9.99) I really, really liked this. There’s aromas of fresh apples with a touch of cinnamon and a yummy ooze of baked apples too, with some sweet temptation of a baking cake. It’s not in your face though, it is subtle like a spring freshness. Apple flavours are very refreshing, and the bubbles, well, they’re happy little bubbles.
Fizz Factor: 5/5

 Supermarket Champagne: The best of the rest

Champagne Veuve Monsigny Vintage Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Aldi, £19.99) You might find this a bit overpowering unless you have a head start in knowing Champagne nuances.  I love this wine. Its an award-winning seasonal  offering which has aromas of apple compote, super-fruity apple tarte tatin, butterscotch and nuts. Side by side with other champers it is almost toffee-like. It has a good acidity and lovely complex rich apple flavours.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Duval-Leroy Fleur de Champagne Premier Cru (Waitrose, £17.99, down from £26.99 until January 3)  Ah, this is subtle and feminine, delicate and wistful. There’s fresh apples and apple crumble on the nose, with a “hey notice me” wave from lemons. It is more fruity than complex, has a soft mouth-feel and is confident in itself. The name is inspired by the scent of the vine flower.
Fizz Factor: 4/5 

Les Pionniers Champagne Brut NV (the Co-operative, reduced by £1 to £15.99  until January 3) Ah. One of my evergreen favourites. It is a super-reliable Champers, named after the Rochdale Pioneers who founded the Co-operative movement, and it has a reputation of beating big names in blind tastings. It has a nose of biscuit, brioche and apples, and tastes of toffee-dipped green apples. Very drinkable.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

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Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£16, down from £19, until January 9) The grapes for this champagne come only from premier and grand cru vineyards, which makes for a special experience from beginning to end. The champagne has a rich nose with lots of ripe apples, vanilla and brioche. It has a good balance of fruit and acidity and some lovely fizzy giddiness plays around your tastebuds. It’s not an overbearing style but has finesse and elegance.
Fizz Factor: 4/5

Sainsbury’s Champagne Blanc de Noirs (£20) There’s three main champagne grapes, one white, two black. If champagne is made   from the white grape only it is blanc de blancs; if just the black grapes are used, the wine is blanc de noirs. That’s what we have here. There’s sumptuous, tempting aromas of brioche, vanilla, butterscotch and citrus but the taste doesn’t live up to the aromas. Saying that, it has a good balance of acidity and a nice fruity flavour.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Louis Vertay Brut NV, (Marks & Spencer, £16.50, from £33 until January 1) A High Five to M&S for just scooping 60 medals, including six golds, at the International Wine Challenge last month. This champers has subtle aromas of fresh and dried fruit, with a sweep of tropical fruit which tickle the senses. Lasting bubbles liven the glass and a taste reveals touches of fruity complexity.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Marquis de Belrive Champagne Brut Reserve (SPAR, £16) I was surprised when I had my first nose dip of this champagne. I said “oooo” because I wasn’t expecting it to have such pretty aromas. It’s not a flag-waving champers, but it’s definitely one you’d be happy to pick up on your way to a party or a family visit. Grapefruit and toasty apples play on the nose and to taste a creamy texture is fizzled with citrus and brioche.
Fizz Factor: 3/5

Champagne Pierre Darcy (Asda, £10, reduced from £18 until  December 27)  Well it’s a tenner so you can’t complain at that, but it needs perking up with fresh raspberries to make it a festive treat. The aromas have buttery edges but there isn’t much fruit; to taste there’s no depth or complexity. In fact it is bland and leaves a bitter aftertaste.
Fizz Factor: 1/5

*First published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express 

Christmas red wine to suit everyone’s pockets!

christmas red wine Novare Valpolicella Ripasso

 It’s not long to go to Christmas Day and I’m getting excited now.
If you’re looking for a Christmas red wine, here’s some thoughts; starting with some bargains and building up to a knock-out buy.


Christmas red wine on offer this month

Western Australia Cabernet Sauvignon  (Morrisons, 14.5% abv, RRP £7, down to £6 until Jan 1st) It takes me a couple of sips to make my mind up on a cab sav –  but this award-winner dug a defiant heel in the ground and said You’ll Like Me!! The earthy aromas, together with plum fruits and vanilla, perk up the senses before rich flavours of deep fruits take over.
Christmas red wine factor: Drink while you thrash everyone at Monopoly

Taste the Difference Pic Saint Loup (Sainsbury, 13% abv, RRP £8, down to £7 from Dec 13) A very drinkable number with a woody aroma and a hint of liquorice. It’s a decent wine at a reasonable price, which might make it a good option when friends and family arrive bearing gifts.
Christmas red wine factor: It will match sprouts and pigs in blankets.

Rioja Ursa Maior Reserva 2011 (SPAR, 14% abv, RRP £10.49, reduced to £7.50 from Dec 8) This is a yum-some oaky red, rich and fruitful with the traditional complexity that you get from a rioja. There’s smokiness alongside vanilla-edged cherry fruits, flecks of coffee and is easy-drinking to boot.
Christmas red wine factor: Sip while you wrap your presents.

Vignerons des Mont d’Aubune Vacqueyras (Asda, 14% abv, RRP £10.48,  but £9 from Dec 7) Powerful grenache takes centre stage in this southern Rhone blend. This red isn’t backward in coming forward and once it’s had an airing, black fruits, coffee and earthy depths tumble out of the glass.
Christmas red wine factor: If you like Châteauneuf-du-Pape try this

Christmas red wine – pay a little more

Novare Valpolicella Ripasso (The Co-op, 13.5% abv, £9.99)  Ripasso is made by taking skins and grapes left over from making amarone wine and re-fermenting  them in valpolicella – it’s born out of a waste-not want-not culture. Novare is exclusive to the Co-op and is fruity but bold, with vanilla, chocolate and liquorice.
Christmas red wine factor: Great with roast beef or a platter of cheese.

La Sogara Amarone (Aldi, 15% abv £11.99) A really great price for a powerful Italian red full of flavour and gusto made traditionally from dried grapes. The wine has notes of chocolate, mint, sour cherry, raspberry and red berries, all swirling and sumptuous on the senses. Christmas red wine factor: Strong cheese or luxury on its own.

Blind River Pinot Noir 2014 Marlborough (Majestic, 13.5% abv, £16.99 or £14.99 in a buy six deal)  I love a pinot noir next to my turkey, cranberry sauce and roasties. I went all gooey-eyed at my first sip of this New Zealand wine. It is soft, slinky, earthy, intense, with raspberries, liquorice and a dabble of spice. Forget any prezzies, I just want this.
Christmas red wine factor: If you don’t like this I’ll eat my Christmas  hat.

Warwick Estate Trilogy 2012 (14% abv RRP £23.99,, Now this is a bit special. There’s a distinct whiff of freshly-baked bread, with  plum  and bramble fruit flavours and a warming, spicy finish. This blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, has produced a classy, complex wine, which would do Christmas lunch proud.
Christmas red wine factor: Worth pushing the festive boat out.  

I write about wine and other drinks in a handful of regional UK newspapers and I share my columns on One Foot in the Grapes. 
First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals December 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express