Champagne Taste Test 2018: We vote for the best champers from 10 supermarkets

Champagne taste test 2018 One Foot in the Grapes

Are you heading for the Big Shop and you’re baffled by which champagne to buy for your festive celebrations? Fear not. Here’s Part Two of my festive fizz consumer taste tests.  In this post I reveal the results of the Champagne Taste Test 2018.

I gathered a group of chums and together we blindtasted one champagne from 10 UK supermarkets. I’d asked the retailers to provide the wines they’d like to see in this consumer taste test*. It wasn’t some random selection by yours truly.

I wrapped the bottles so everything was incognito and we gave the wines a pseudonym. We then  marked on aromas, bubbles, taste and finish. A wine could receive a maximum of 90 marks. We didn’t know which wine had won until we did the Big Reveal when all the scores were in.

Here’s the results of the Champagne Taste Test 2018: – 

The best supermarket champagne:

ASDA Extra Special 2007 Vintage Champagne taste test 2018Asda Extra Special Vintage Champagne 2007 (£24, until December 31) This is simply delicious. It is a different style of champers to the other ones selected, but its here because in terms of value it’s a fab fizz.
I wrote five things “apple pie, brioche, caramelised pineapple”. I drew a very, very large smiley face which doesn’t translate well in these notes.
Drink it slowly (was one tasting elf’s advice) and savour the vanilla, the apples, and the amazing finish.
Tasting elves say:  Oh wow, apple pie. Love this
Overall score: 69/90

Champagne Taste Test 2018:  2nd – 4th place


2nd Place:

Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (£11.49, Aldi) This was the cheapest champagne we blind-tasted, but it packed a punch of loveliness . I’d be happy to pay more for this delicious champagne. Mmmmm, I thought it was rich, with a nose of butterscotch and caramel and a lively fizz. My elves’ comments included “apple crumble, fresh and sweet” with a “lingering aftertaste”  and “brioche with apple playfulness”.
Tasting elves say: It’s a fruit explosion
Overall score:  64/90

3rd Place:

Landric Champagne Brut (£25, Sainsbury) I hadn’t tried this champagne before and it was pretty moreish. It scored above average with all our elves. We enjoyed this wine’s light but creamy notes which were wrapped in a subtle buttery biscuit coat with a good crunch of apple to top everything off. It’s a blend of the three champagne grapes, pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay.
Tasting elves say: Tastes like a day out in the summer
Overall score:  59/90

4th Place:

Comte de Senneval Premier Cru Champagne (£15.99, Lidl) Toffee caramel was my first thought, closely followed by rich fruit and stewed apples. Another taster picked up melon, citrus and biscuits. Another elf described brioche with more of that toffee. It’s a complex champagne, probably best to serve on a special festive event such as Christmas Day. Why not welcome in New Year with a glass.
Tasting elves say: Like a sherbert dib dab
Overall score:  53/90

Champagne Taste Test 2018:  5th – 7th place

5th Place:

Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne (£17, down from £19 until January 1) Yowzah, I thought, when I sensed the aromas of vanilla, caramel and crunchy apple – and yowzah again when I had a little sip. It has richness and an elegance. It has depth and a refined bubble. One tasting elf, a keen chef among us (yes, elves cook apparently) said it reminded her of the aromas when cooking fudge. Saying all that, when it came to the marks, two unconvinced elves gave it just two marks  – and one elf gave it a single point. It’s a fizz which divided.
Tasting elves say: Brimming with brioche
Overall score:  42/90

6th Place:

Champagne Delacourt Brut (£30, Marks & Spencer) Peachy, I wrote. A touch of toast, I wrote. A nice pop of bubbles, I wrote. I savoured the sips. My fellow tasters, who had happily taken up this challenge to guide you through your festive maze of fizz, weren’t as convinced. It needs a boost, said one, though they enjoyed the burst of bubbles. Two elves discerned red fruits leading the nose from the front, and I did too, with my second nose dip.
Tasting elves say: Pleasant and biscuity
Overall score:  41/90

7th Place:

Waitrose Brut Champagne NV (£19.99) Light, subtle, fruity and refreshing. That’s what I thought anyway. After the big reveal (when all our scores were in) I was surprised to see my home-based consumer panel wasn’t as keen on this champagne.  I discovered later the wine is mainly a pinot noir blend, with only 10 percent chardonnay. A pale golden colour, this wine has a pleasant finish. It is easy to drink, said an elf, and is probably a fizz for an informal festive gathering.
Tasting elves say: Shortbread and fruit
Overall score:  39/90

ChampagneTaste Test 2018:  8th – 10th place

8th Place:

Marquis Belrive Champagne Brut (£17.50, Spar) Well, this was an interesting one! Dip your nose, I told the elves, and say what you smell. It’s a bit like Catchphrase but with a glass and a sniff. Let’s call it Fizz Phrase. This wine brought diverse observations of elderflower, Granny Smith apples, socks (sorry about that Spar) and from me, a hint of baked fruit and a peep of caramel. The bubbles were giddy and proud of themselves.
Tasting elves say: A tiny hint of red fruit
Overall score:  38/90

9th Place:

Morrisons The Best Champagne Brut (£19) This champagne is a one-time winner of my festive fizz consumer taste test,  in contrast to 2018. My elfish consumers sensed a bitter aftertaste which knocked the fizz down a few marks.  There was praise for the aroma – “very perfumed” – and the bubbles were described as  “light and flirty”. Me? I was content with its notes of brioche, citrus and gentle, gentle bubbles.
Tasting elves say: Marshmallow clouds
Overall score:  30/90

10th Place:

Les Pionniers NV Champagne (£18.99, but £17.99 from December 12 until January 29 inclusive) Well, what to say. This champagne has won awards on many an occasion, but it didn’t float the boat of our blind tasters. I have to stick with the scores on the doors because that’s what this taste test is all about. My thoughts were red and green apples, with a pithy dryness, and a good fizz. But one elf said she just didn’t like the finish in the mouth and likewise another said the aromas were just too subtle. You can’t win ‘em all.
Tasting elves say: Touch of aniseed
Overall score:  26/90

Read more about  Christmas wines 2018

Prosecco Taste Test 2018: We rate 10 supermarket proseccos from 1st to last

Christmas 2018 wines Part 1: Fresh and fruity whites
Christmas 2018 wines Part 2: Six chardonnay wines 
Christmas 2018 wines Part 3: Six light, fruity, savoury, spicy reds
Christmas 2018 wines Part 4: Festive red wine to warm and hug you 

*This consumer test was published in newspapers including:
Hull Daily Mail – Leicester Mercury – Cambridge News – Liverpool Echo South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner
– The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Gazette 
Birmingham Mail – Coventry Telegraph  – Paisley Daily Express 

Add dash of Chambord to prosecco for a summery cocktail

Chambord prosecco

I’VE been sitting here thinking about strawberries and Wimbledon and the Longest Day (because, scarily, we have reached that daylight milestone).

Where do I take you this week, I’ve been asking myself. What homework do I set you in my continued challenge to encourage you to drink something new. To cast away the grigio and run free, barefoot across the bottled landscape; wind billowing through your hair, the sun glinting off your clasped shiny corkscrew. (Not sure running barefoot across bottles is a good analogy. So tread carefully.)

I‘ve been torn. But no more. I’ve shrugged off the image of my one reader (that’s you) running around crazily looking for wine, and have landed on Chambord.

Plaza prosecco review

Purely by chance. I poured a glass of prosecco, Plaza Centro Prosecco (Tesco, £6.49 until July 1, reduced from £12.99). It‘s OK. It’s prosecco. A good light lemon flurry of pouring bubbles enjoying the contact with fresh air longer than most, and a burst of citrus in the mouth. You’re never going to get a complexity of tastes with prosecco, unlike a cava or a crémant. I needed an added “something” to liven up the brain cells I use for words.

Then I remembered I had a bottle of Chambord one of my closest friends had bought me.  (A 20cl bottle is in Tesco for £7.50).

If you’ve never tried it, I urge you to do so.  The Chambord website tells me:

“Chambord is the premium black raspberry liqueur with a fine French heritage. Chambord stands alone in its category — and in its iconic, captivating packaging.”

The bottle is so pretty.  It should be gracing a dressing table.

Chambord liqueur
Chambord liqueur, oh so pretty

I poured a little glug into the glass and it turned a glass of sparkles into  a fruity cocktail treat. A weekday luxury as I’m tapping on this laptop with Corrie on the TV. Come on Peter Barlow, shape up.

Chambord is 16.5% abv and gave the prosecco more oomph and a delightful raspberry depth. Sparkles aside, there’s a heap of cocktail ideas you can create, including vodka, Chambord and soda (pop a raspberry in too). Or Chambord suggests a French Martini, which is vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice.

Yums. Lovely little summery treats.

If you want to look for other sparklers to celebrate the summer, then a good starting point could be a handful of supermarket own-brand wines which dominated the Great Value Sparkling category in the recent International Wine Challenge Awards.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore review
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2013
  • Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2013 (£10) was awarded the Great Value Awards for sparkling under £12.
  • The Co-operative picked up the mid-range Great Value Award (sparkling wines between £12 and £20) for its Les Pionniers NV Champagne (£16.99). 
  • Waitrose won the Great Value sparkling under £25 award with its Blanc de Noirs Brut NV (£24.99).

If you want a pink sparkle without the home-made element then Freixenet has two lovely cavas Cordon Rosado (RRP £9.99) and the classy-looking Elyssia Pinot Noir (RRP £14.99).

Freixenet cava elyssia pinot noir brut review
Freixenet Elyssia cava

Both are widely available. The rosada uses two “stand up and be counted grapes” trepat and garnacha and delivers bright red fruits and blackberries. Elyssia is one to grace a special dining table and has a lightness of touch that pinot noir brings and lots of summer fruits.

So what do I always say? Go forth and experiment.

Published in the saturday extra magazine June 21, 2014