With the party season upon us, we look at own label champagne to see who offers the best taste and value for the money. Own label (buyer’s own brand or BOB as it also known) means an exclusive label created by a champagne house or co-operative in the region to the exact individual specification and price of the UK retailer – and it can also be found under a ficticious name to entice the buyer.
Our overall verdict was that some of these bottles could give big brand name champagnes a run for their money – in particular offerings from The Co-operative and Tesco – while others were disappointingly dull or austere.
Own Label under £20
Tesco Premier Cru Champagne Brut NV - STAR BUY
Popular with those who like creamy, rounded fizz with plenty of fruit; this chardonnay-dominant bubbly scored highly for its balance, juicy acidity and overall drinkability. A crowd pleaser.
Sainsbury’s Winemakers Selection Blanc De Noirs Champagne Brut NV
Blanc de Noirs styles can be more palatable than Blanc de Blancs at this cheap price but this lacked a depth of fruit; a bit one-dimensional.
Marks & Spencer Oudinot Brut NV
Starts well with a light brioche aroma and citric fruits – an average scorer in the tasting.
£15, reduced from £25 in December, Marks & Spencer
The Co-Operative Les Pioneers Brut NV - STAR BUY
This definitely passed muster with its proper biscuity aromas and creamy, toasty palate. There’s a touch of hard green apple fruit mid-palate, but it scored well and was considered good for this price.
Asda Extra Special Louis Bernard Premier Cru Champagne Brut NV
Floral aromas to start, just a hint of toastiness, dry and crisp on the palate, but finishes too abruptly short. Asda’s Extra Special Vintage is a pricier, but much better buy.
£16, reduced from £19.75, until 28 December, Asda
WM Morrison Champagne Brut NV
An average scorer. Started well with enticing biscuity brioche notes, but fruit was a bit shallow mid-palate, a lack of concentration and elegance – with a moderate finish.
Lidl Comte De Senneval Champagne Brut NV
For those with a sweeter tooth, this was a disappointing three grape blend, despite its very keen price. This current cuvée tastes too confected, slightly soapy and is lacking zip.
Aldi Veuve Monsigny Champagne By Philizot Brut NV
Majestic Wine J De Telmont Grande Reserve Brut NV
Majestic do not do an own label champagne as such, so their entrant is their exclusive house label. It’s pretty classic, but has a bit too much sweetness for some tasters.
£19.99, Majestic Wine
The Wine Society’s Private Cuvée Champagne Brut NV - STAR BUY
Our highest scorer. Our tasters loved its nuttiness, yeastiness and full rich palate. Chardonnay-dominant (45 per cent), but the secret here is the barrel ferment (rather than tank) to build complexity and add a subtle smokiness. Impressive.
£28, The Wine Society
Berry Bros & Rudd Champagne Grand Cru Mailly Brut NV
Smooth, yeasty, gingerbread notes, a popular well-made fizz with a lovely smoothness of texture.
£26.50, Berry Bros & Rudd, www.bbr.com
Harvey Nichols Champagne Brut NV
Waitrose Blanc De Blancs Champagne Brut NV
Like many chardonnay-based cuvées at this price level, this is very dry so appealed to those who liked steely, citric vibrant styles. It is well made, exactly what you would expect. A bit lacking in elegance.
Tesco Grand Cru Vintage Champagne 2007
Biscuity, good depth of fruit and well made. A good buy – particularly if you can find it on offer this Christmas.
The Co-Operative Les Pioneers Vintage 2006
A very good effort, this is from the highly regarded 2006 vintage. Very citric, rich in fruit, toasty, full with fine bubbles. A well made blend of equal amounts of pinot noir and chardonnay. n
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