AS we celebrate within our support bubbles this New Year’s Eve, it seems there is only one thing we all want to drink – a glass of bubbly.
Demand for champagne is soaring, with Waitrose reporting a 22 per cent increase in sales over last year.
Only sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France can legally be called champagne.
The production method is labour-intensive, hence its hefty price tag, with bottles needing to be aged for 15 months.
But if you avoid big-name labels such as Laurent-Perrier and Bollinger there are some top-class bubbly bargains to be found in supermarkets and online.
Wine expert Helena Nicklin from thethreedrinkers.com, tried eight champagnes, each costing £17 or less for a 75cl bottle, and gave her verdict and a rating out of ten.
LOUIS DELAUNAY BRUT NV
An award-winning crowdpleaser, this is a soft and easy-drinking champers.
In the flute there’s a tang of red apple on the nose and baked apple pie on the palate.
Made from 50 per cent pinot noir, 35 per cent meunier and 15 per cent chardonnay grapes, the end result is a dry but well balanced bubbler, with no screeching acidity to give you that morning-after heartburn.
Perfect for sharing on the sofa on a romantic night in, or as an aperitif pre- meal.
HENRI CACHET BRUT NV
£13.50: Asda (in stores only)
Crisp and pure, there’s a lemon sherbet note to this subtle purse-saving sparkle.
Fairly simple on the nose and palate, this is a well-balanced fizz made from a mix of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes that’s dry and refreshing.
Pleasant in the most positive way, it might not be the most exciting bubbly ever but it’s enjoyable and inoffensive.
Unlike some cheaper tipples, it won’t leave you grabbing for the Rennies the morning after.
A top pick for sipping with a spot of seafood.
VEUVE MONSIGNY BRUT NV
Wine experts have been raving about this bargain biscuity champagne recently, and with very good reason.
Made with all three champagne grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier) and blended with older wines for layers of toasty, delicious flavour, this bubbly is seriously impressive.
You’ll save some pennies while keeping all the special-occasion sparkle.
For the price, I think this is easily the best non-vintage (NV) champers on the market right now.
ANDRE CARPENTIER BRUT NV
£14: Tesco (in stores only)
Lean and dry with a sharp, apple tang.
If you like your bubbles a little more tart, this is the one for you.
Well considered, it offers a fine fizz on the tongue, and the addition of gentle, warm spice and vanilla notes add richness to the flavour without adding extra sweetness, ensuring a good balance in every flute.
Made from a selection of chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir, this would be the perfect champagne to pair with food, and would go especially well with meaty flavours.
JULES MIGNON, BRUT NV
With lively, green apple notes and a touch more sweetness on the finish than others, this is a perfectly decent champagne, especially for the price.
Quaffed by itself there’s a slight lack of fruit on the palate so, for me, it would be best used as a brilliant base for Buck’s Fizz or champagne cocktails.
The classy-looking label with script lettering is pretty, too, so it’s a good one to have out on show as no one will guess how much money you’ve saved.
COMTE DE SENNEVAL BRUT NV
Not your classic champagne flavour profile, this savoury sipper is more brooding, with notes of smoky toffee, caramel and an elderflower tang on the finish.
It also has a wine-like weight in the mouth and hint of sweetness that may divide opinion on whether you love it or leave it, depending on your palate.
A bit quirky but if it’s to your taste then it’s a total bargain – you really can’t argue with the affordability.
Pair it with a weekend smoked- salmon brunch to make a happy match.
A DE SENNEVAL PREMIER CRU, BRUT NV
It is worth splashing out an extra few pounds for this cracking premier cru champagne.
A significant step up yet still an incredible bargain, the premier cru label means grapes for these fine bubbles were sourced from some of the best vineyards in the Champagne region, giving it more body and clout, a real intensity and a richer flavour.
With notes of toasty, wild strawberry, this is a real treat at the price.
Crack this open when you want to celebrate in style. It would also be nice paired with hard cheeses.
NICOLAS DE MONTBART, BRUT NV
Real champagne this cheap is rare to find and it’s probably best drunk quickly rather than saved for a special occasion.
This bone-dry bargain offers citrusy freshness, is crisp and frothy and is certainly gluggable for the price.
And while there’s not masses of flavour going on in your flute, it doesn’t fall completely flat.
I’d recommend this as an aperitif, or to pop open instead of prosecco or cava when nothing else but that crucial French stamp of authenticity on your fizz will do.
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