Champagne Shopping Guide Christmas 2013
Did you know we buy more than 10 million bottles of champagne at Christmas?
Whilst the majority of champagne purchased at Christmas is for seasonal gifting – hence all the sparkly packaging with value adds like flutes, ice buckets, sabres and even a sound horn (to listen to Krug bubbles) which appear winking at you in specialist retailers from October onwards, thanks to intense competition at the consumer end of the market, the lead up to Christmas is also a great time of year for champagne lovers to stock up on both bargain everyday champagne rations and attractively priced vintage champagne for special occasions…
There is literally a champagne for every moment and a moment for every champagne, but but there are some real bargains to be found between GBP12 – 50 – here’s my Top 4 champagnes for Christmas 2013
BARGAIN BUBBLY (under GBP 17)
Non vintage champagne is the calling card of any producer and normally represents about 80 to 90 per cent of annual sales – usually an assemblage based on wines from the current harvest blended with reserve wines from several different years to create a harmonious marriage of fine aromatic complexity, quality – and, above all, instant maturity. So non vintage champagne suits any and every occasion in day to day life.
Due to their buying power, UK supermarkets are able to source great value/quality champagnes which they sell on to customers at very attractive prices, as a way to drive footfall into their stores. Every week there is a price promotion on one or other of the big brand name champagnes, but the best bargains are often the unknown or in-house labels which are exclusively selected and imported for their own outlets…
Awarded a silver medal in the prestigious International Wine Competition 2013, Aldi’s easy drinking generous and fruity champagne made by Philizot has beaten the big brands in blind tastings (as reported by the Daily Mail in May 2013) and is the perfect party fizz for beginners or big drinkers.
Available at Aldi: GBP12.95 – but reduced to GBP11.50 in the lead up to Christmas 2013
Tesco’s Finest 1er Cru
This gold medal winning beautifully balanced champagne made by Union champagne is a bargain find, full of ripe fruit, good structure and excellent palate length at a very reasonable price. Great at aperitif time or can also handle party finger food.
Available at Tesco: GBP19.95 – bud reduced to GBP16.49 in the lead up to Christmas 2013
PUTTING ON THE RITZ (vintage champagne under GBP50)
Tasting a vintage champagne is an altogether different experience that tasting non-vintage champagnes. Firstly all the grapes come from the best vineyards, from one particular good year, why is why its worth ageing vintage champagnes for longer before release. The result is a huge step up in quality which translates as more focussed fruit notes and more biscuity and toasty flavours with greater intensity in the champagne, making these structured wines interesting to enjoy with food or perfect for making any occasion extra memorable.
This majestic example of 2004 vintage is powerful and classically rich. Certain to please the palate of any discerning champagne lover and with enough body to match strongly flavoured and slightly spicy foods like mild curry, my personal favourite food match is lobster! Veuve Clicquot’s iconic packaging also makes this vintage champagne a safe bet gift. Widely available under GBP50, on special circa GBP37
Recently released in very elegant gift packaging at Harrods for just under GBP 50, this 2006 vintage champagne has been made by one of Champagne’s most awarded sparkling winemakers. Easy on the eye and silky smooth and refreshing on the palate, this light to medium bodied vintage champagne is a real crowd pleaser in the taste stakes and looks damn sexy as well – the perfect gift for any champagne lover.
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