Finished all the Christmas fizz, have we? Polished off the last prosecco with the leftovers? Opened that special bottle of champagne when all the family were around because, well, why not? So we need to stock up as New Year’s Eve rapidly approaches and, since most online orders are not going to arrive on time, here is my selection of sparklers from the high street, where there are lots of attractive discounts on offer. And one of the things to celebrate as we welcome 2019 is that as consumers have an extraordinary range to choose from – from bargain proseccos and great value French cremants to supermarket own label champagnes and elegant, special moment English sparkling wines.
Trying to get away from both the predictable names and cheapo prosecco, we go first to Aldi, which excels with its range of sparklers. It is recommended for the remarkably good value Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura before and do so again without hesitation: made with chardonnay grapes from the Jura region in eastern France, it is packed with clean flavours of brioche and citrus; a serious quality. While in Aldi, you can also pick up their International Wines and Spirits Competition Silver award winning Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut made from the standard combo of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier: lightly floral and refreshing.
Another “supermarket exclusive” wine, the Les Pionniers Champagne, which received multiple blind tasting awards as well as being recognised by Which? Magazine, is an absolute nailed-on bargain buy; they also have a rosé version, Les Pionniers Rosé NV. Delacourt Brut Vintage 2004 took an International Wine Challenge Gold this year and has that real vintage champagne quality: bready, rich, powerful, with a clean, citrus finish.
The big story in sparkling wine over the past few years has been the rise in English sparkling, and now most supermarkets have, as with champagne, engaged English sparkling producers to create wines for them, usually at far better prices than their main brands, so represent good value as a celebration bottle. Try then the Denbies Whitedowns English Sparkling Brut made in Surrey from chardonnay and dornfelder from one of the country’s most long established vineyards; Aldi also has the rosé version, Denbies Whitedowns English Sparkling Rosé
The Hush Heath estate in Kent is, relatively speaking, a newcomer to English sparking, with the gorgeously elegant Hush Heath Balfour Brut Sparkling Rosé the ideal special occasion sparkler, particularly with smoked salmon. But you can also now find their wines in the Co-op, which has the Balfour 1503 Foxwood Cuvée a slightly creamy, chardonnay-based sparkler and get Balfour 1503 Oast House both of which represent exceptional value for money.
For a more established English sparkling, there are now many to choose from, but try one of the pioneers, based just outside Lewes in the South Downs, the impeccable Ridgeview Marksman Brut.
Among the more established champagne brands, there are discounts galore, so shop around for the best price for your favourite. For something other than Moet or Lanson, try the Monopole Heidsieck & Co NV or the Pommery Brut Royal NV , both at the lighter end of champagne style; the latter somewhat more complex and fuller flavoured. If you really, really want to push the boat out this New Year’s Eve, my two choices would be the infinitely refined and elegant, 100 per cent chardonnay Ruinart Blancs de Blancs NV or, for a rosé, the red fruit inflected Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé NV.
Finally, for a bargain prosecco to get the party going, it would be to go above £10 and look for bottles labelled DOCG, the sign of quality in Italian wines or those marked Valdobbiadene, considered to be the best area for prosecco. So, for one that ticks all those boxes go for the lemony, very dry, enlivening Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG guaranteed to put a little sparkle into your New Year’s Eve. Enjoy!