With the UK Champagne price wars heating up and the crucial Christmas sales period fast approaching, Daniel Bracegirdle, Sainsbury’s champagne buyer, must be wetting his pants with delight – not only did the Blanc de Noirs champagne he selected for Sainsburys (made by Champagne Palmer) emerge from a global field of 10,000 wines to win best “Great value sparkling wine between fifteen & twenty pounds” at the International Wine Challenge this year, it just beat big brand leaders such as Moet & Chandon Brut and Lanson Black Label in a blind taste off conducted by Which? Magazine.
Consumer advocate Which? Magazine asked well known wine writers including Charles Metcalfe, Tim Atkin and Joanna Simon to rate 14 champagnes out of 100. The blind tasting included the best supermarket bottles along with three top selling big brands. The highest score on the day was 90 points awarded to Veuve Clicquot, which the tasters described as having “a good textured palate and an attractive, flowery nose with toasty biscuity undertones”. Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs champagne which is a blend of 70% pinot noir and 30% pinot meunier came in second scoring 89 points and was described as “Fully, dry and fruity with a lively mousse”. What’s most extraordinary about this result is that a bottle of Veuve sells for double the price of Sainsbury’s champagne – which begs the question when it comes to bubbles Is Big really Better?