In the run up to the festivities, Times’ wine writer James Viner is sharing his recommendations for festive drinking. This week, he delivers a selection of Champagnes and fizz ranging from £8 to £100 a bottle, which will ensure your Christmas truly sparkles
BARGAIN BASEMENT CHOICE (UNDER £10)
Exquisite Crémant du Jura Chardonnay Brut 2014, France (12%, £7.99, Aldi)
If you wish to amaze your guests with refreshing and quaffable traditional method festive fizz and want to save some cash, too, then look no further than this French offering. Floral with light brioche and green apple notes, it’s a great party wine to enjoy with or without food. Kir Royale anyone? Then why not pick up a bottle of Aldi’s awardwinning
Specially Selected Crème de Cassis (£6.99, 50cl) and add a dash of it to the crémant? This is an absolute steal, so rush to take advantage – you have the scoop.
BEST SUPERMARKET BUBBLY (UNDER £15)
Veuve Monsigny Brut NV Champagne, Philizot & Fils, France (12%, £10.99, Aldi)
Hats off to Aldi for securing this fine own-label fizz. It punches above its weight and
has decent complexity to challenge and compete with the big brand names at much
greater prices. Flourishing with filigree bubbles, lemony acidity and toasty biscuit, almond
and green apple flavours, this is peppy enough to pair prettily with the salty scrumptiousness of smoked salmon canapés, sushi, sashimi and oysters. At this price, it’s a cracking Champagne. A glass of this dry and honed wine will make your Christmas day appreciably better.
TOP SOUTH AFRICAN SPARKLER
2010 KWV Laborie Blanc de Blancs Brut, South Africa (12.5%, £11.16, Slurp)
South Africa produces an increasing quantity of really appetising sparkling wines made by the painstaking traditional bottle-fermented (Champagne) method – the official name is MCC: ‘méthode cap classique’. A glorious 100 per cent Chardonnay harvested from vineyards in the Western Cape, this is elegant, fresh and stylish with hints of green apple, hazelnuts and zesty citrus fruit. Three years on lees adds texture and weight, along with a nice creamy, roasted almond, biscuity note. One for delicate seafood dishes, sushi and
oysters. Great stuff.
MUST-TRY ENGLISH BUBBLES FROM THE SOUTH DOWNS
Hambledon Classic Cuvée Brut NV, Hampshire (12%, £24-£30, M&S/ Ministry of Drinks/Waitrose)
Try this fabulous offering from one of the UK’s leading sparkling wine producers to see what all the fuss is about English fizz. A blend of the three main Champagne varieties from our oldest commercial vineyard, here’s a complex and energetic wine with flavours of red plums and yellow orchard fruits, plus a hint of pain grillé and brioche richness.
With its deeply satisfying combination of livewire acidity and a marvellous umami savouriness, this is one of the most chic and engaging English sparklers I have tasted this year. Delicious with eggs Benedict, dim sum, fish and chips and smoked salmon.
SYBARITIC CHAMPAGNE ROSÉ MAGNUM
Bollinger Rosé Brut NV 1.5l Magnum (12%, £98.95-£115, Drinksdirect & Berry’s)
When tasting this nectar professionally, I could not bring myself to spit. What a
delicacy. A blend of majority Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, it has notes
of baking bread, summer red berry fruit and spice. Unleash this rich and delectable
pink Champagne from Aÿ’s most eminent house before or during Christmas lunch and your guests will smile with glee. Enjoy with red-fruit desserts, smoked salmon, tuna, lobster and Boxing Day cold cuts.