STUDENTS of current retailing trends may well have noticed that something is stirring in the world of supermarket champagne. Inexpensive champagne can often deliver high levels of acidity and little else. However, for some time now both major discounters have sold reliable and well-made champagne at less than £12. For instance, Veuve Monsigny Champagne Brut (£11.99 at Aldi) is delightfully balanced fare. Its pleasingly soft apple and lemon fruit has a well-judged fresh, acidic edge, but is also enriched by skilfully integrated toasty touches.
Equally impressive is Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut (currently £9.99 at Lidl) with similar brioche-style depth, but here the fruit is more lime than lemon and that extra zing creates an acidity led vibrancy that gives the whole thing extra life.
"Discounters now sell reliable and well-made champagne at less than £12"
Meanwhile, most of that ably crafted, own-label champagne at traditional supermarkets has hovered around the £20 mark – with occasional one-off promotions. For the past nine weeks, however, Tesco has knocked £4 or £5 off either its Finest Vintage or Premier Cru champagnes. The current offer – Tesco’s Finest Premier Cru Champagne (down to £15.99) – ends on Tuesday, so strike quickly to savour the finesse that underpins this classy wine’s lively citrus edge, biscuity backdrop and vigorous bubbles.
Now, I notice, Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blancs Champagne Brut has come down to £18 until 28 April. This excellent (exclusively chardonnay) champagne – made for Sainsbury’s by Duval-Leroy – delivers fresh and bright apple and lemon fruit, and busy effervescence, yet balances it with toasty, custard-cream touches.
Don’t, however, just regard all this as a way of saving money. Spur yourself into trading up to the next quality level – where prices are also easing. Look, for instance, at the fabulous Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne which is down a third to £24.65 at Tesco until Tuesday and only likely to be a couple of pounds dearer until the middle of May.
THIS WEEK'S BEST BUYS:
2013 Los Gansos Merlot
Central Valley, Chile, 13.5 per cent
Enjoyable and well-priced merlot (with a touch of cabernet) from the mighty Cono Sur stable – named after the geese that
are used, instead of chemicals, to control pests in the vineyard. The wine itself delivers bold but medium-bodied, plum-based fruit with a mocha and cinnamon finish, raspberry influenced acidity, smoky aromas and very soft tannins.
£6.50 at The Wine Society
2014 Hartley’s Block Sauvignon Blanc
Marlborough, New Zealand,
12.5 per cent
A newcomer from the accomplished Brent Marris (of the Ned and Kings series fame) from grapes in some of the region’s higher ground. Its classic gooseberry flavours have real intensity
with touches of mint, but there is also rounded depth and viscosity which is neatly integrated into the wine’s sharp, tangerine and lime acidity.
£7.85 – instead of £10.49 – until 2 June at Waitrose