Angela Mount's Top 10 Champagne & Prosecco
A glass full of bubbles is always welcome, exciting, and lifts the spirits, be it for the festive season, or any other time. Champagne and sparkling wines used to be saved for special occasions, but are now far more of our everyday experiences. However, over 30% of all fizz is still sold in December alone, so now’s the right time to be looking at the top choices available.
Everyone loves a glass of fizz, but there are lots of different styles, and a big difference in price. 5 years ago, apart from Champagne, Cava was king, but now Prosecco tops the fashion stakes; this small region in northern Italy still doesn’t quite grasp its international success, but is making some great and affordable wines. Champagne sales may have dropped in the last couple of years, as the recession hit, but Champagne is still the ultimate in beautifully crafted, carefully aged, unique wines, with over 34 million bottles sold in the UK per year.
I drink and serve Champagne, when I know it’s going to be appreciated and enjoyed. When you’re planning for drinks parties, you need to think of the numbers, the food and the cost – Prosecco is great for this – the ones I’ve featured here are all high quality and would please a crowd – fresh, lively, fruity, and refreshingly low in alcohol. However, if you really want to impress at parties, there are some fabulous champagne deals around this year as well.
I’d also use Prosecco for Christmas morning Bucks Fizz, saving the champagne for later – I can’t bear to see good Champagne diluted by the addition of orange or passion fruit juice, but that’s personal opinion. Bring out the champagne for your loved ones, and special guests, and enjoy the occasion.
Here are some of my top tips:
Tesco Finest Prosecco
This is definitely one of the liveliest Proseccos on the market, and a frequent award winner. It’s the perfect, lively party drink, or a delightful glass to enjoy in the evening. The delicate stream of bubbles leads to a lovely citrus fragrance of sherbet lemons, and white peach, with upbeat, zesty flavours, overlaid with a gentle apple blossom and ripe pear character. It’s upbeat, gently fruity, with a deliciously refreshing style.
Prosecco La Marca Treviso Extra Dry
This is a softer style of Prosecco, which is dry, but retains a hint of sweetness; it’s very gentle in style, with a soft ripeness of pears and baked apples. Prosecco sales are on a rollercoaster, and it would be dull for us all if they were all the same. This one is less citrus based, maybe slightly less crisp, but it scores highly on the fruitiness and creamy softness. It’s a great party wine, which drifts gently over the tastebuds, with a soft foaming bubble, and gentle apple blossom, and banana scents, and a ripe, uplifting flavour, with hints of candied lemon and fresh peach.
The Prosecco craze has inevitably meant that there are a lot of poor quality ones out there, as everyone tries to get on the bandwagon , and it’s great to see that the supermarkets are being very careful in what they select for their own brand. Well done Waitrose on finding this deliciously creamy style, with a gentle softness and lots of charming, delicate fruit. With lots of tiny bubbles, it’s a simple, well-made fizz, with aromas and flavours of russet apples, ripe pears and a hint of white peach. Light and fun.
Morrisons Signature Prosecco
Subtle and gentle, Morrisons have found a winner in this peach and apple-blossom scented fizz. It’s a delicate style of Prosecco, and all the more charming for it. The tiny bubbles rush to the surface and release wafts of ripe apple, and candied lemon; try it and it’s a medley of ripe peach, poached pear, and a zesty citrus twist, which lifts the flavour. Deliciously smooth and creamy, it’s a little indulgent treat on busy evenings in, and a definite party favourite.
Tesco Finest Pignoletto
I’m veering off the Prosecco trail slightly, but staying in Italy, with this crackingly good fizz. Pignoletto is a well-kept secret, from the grape variety of the same name, produced, like Prosecco, in northern Italy, but in this case, towards the east, close to the cities of Modena and Bologna. But if Tesco have their way, and I hope they do, this will be a secret no longer. It’s deliciously crisp, with a zesty freshness; tiny bubbles stream to the top of the glass and release scents of sharp pear and crisp coxes apples, with a little hint of ripe nectarine wafting in. A delightful glass of lively fizz with loads of ripe peach flavours, a floral, creamy edge and a very perky, sassy, refreshing style. Stay one ahead of the crowd and impress guests with this new kid on the block.
From £9.57 | Click here to see the best price for this product
Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne NV
This gets my vote for the best champagne under £20; others obviously think so too, as it’s won numerous awards in recent wine competitions. It has an enchanting, inviting richness, an opulence and elegance which are unexpected at the price. Full of rich, toasty, buttered hazelnuts and baked apple flavours, it’s delicate thread of bubbles releases aromas of baked cream and ripe peaches. Silky smooth and elegant, it’s the perfect celebration drink, or ideal with mini fish and chips, smoked salmon and even little spicy canapés.
Waitrose Blanc De Noirs Champagne NV
This is incredible quality for its price, far better than several of the big brands. With its delicate pale golden colour, everything about it is elegant and poised – the rich, toasty, buttery, hazelnut and ripe berry fruit aromas, and the beautifully balanced, rounded, indulgent flavours. It has an intriguing aroma of fresh raspberries, which lead to a complex, delicious foaming palate of red berry fruits, rich cream, and warm buttered toast. It’s softness and richness is enchanting. What does it go with? It’s so good, pretty much anything – smoked salmon, tempura prawns, creamy salmon, even mildly spiced dishes.
Heidsieck Monopole Gold Top 2007
Vintage Champagne at this price? Snap it up quick. This has to be one of the best vintage champagne offers on the market this Christmas, at a price, well below that of many standard champagnes. Unlike non -vintage Champagne, a vintage champagne means that the wine has been made from wine produced in a single year, rather than a blend of vintages. Vintage champagne is only made in exceptional years, where the quality of the grapes, and the resulting Champagne is very high. Vintage champagnes area also aged for longer, and have a richer, more mature, complex taste. Glinting gold in colour, this one has a velvety softness about it, and a rich, indulgent creaminess of baked apple, toasted brioche, and baked peaches, with a gentle, luxurious finish. This is a superb champagne to go with food, especially a sumptuous roast salmon with hollandaise sauce, or a platter of the freshest prawns.
From £19.99 | Click here to see the best price for this product
Jacquart Brut Mosaique NV
Another worthy award winner, this time, a silver in the International Wine & Spirit Competition. Jacquart is one of the youngest Champagne houses, but is punching above its weight in terms of style and quality. This blend is called ‘mosaique’, as it’s a blend of grapes from a whole mosaic of vineyards from the top champagne areas. Jacquart goes a step further than most producers for its non-vintage blend – they age the champagne for longer, and before they do that, they blend in about 20% of older wines, thus adding to the richness, complexity and creaminess of the blend. By the time you get your hands on this, you have a beautifully integrated, mellow champagne, which cruises over the palate with a warm, creamy elegance. It has entrancing aromas of baked apples, and cinnamon spiced pears, and has flavours of ripe, autumnal fruits, mingled in with toasted hazelnuts, toasted brioche, and a hint of candied citrus peel. Sublime.
From £21.88 | Click here to see the best price for this product
Morrisons Signature Champagne Brut NV
Morrisons have done a great job with their new ‘signature’ range, and I’m impressed with the elegant style and creaminiess of this new Champagne. It’s from the Epernay region, and unlike many other non-vintage champagnes, the blend here is overtly creamy and delicate, using over 50% of Chardonnay grapes, which grow at their best in the Epernay region. This blend gives the wine a unique, floral, soft character, with gentle bubbles, and delicate aromas and flavours of baked apple, toasted hazelnuts and rich brioche. It has poise, and charm, with a deliciously fresh, citrusy edge. Try it with tempura prawns, scallops and smoked salmon.
From £19.99 | Click here to see the best price for this product
*This article is showing the prices and stock available on 17/12/2013. Delivery fees may apply.