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Bubbles and Sparkle for Christmas

Few things enliven any event better than bubbles so here are some excellent choices to help give your Christmas and New Year festivities an extra lift.

This second of our reviews of suggested Christmas and New Year wines aims to provide the sparkle you may need to see out a weird year and the start, we hope, of a better one.

Much (and, possibly, most) of the champagne and other sparkling wine drunk in 2020 will be consumed in the next couple of weeks.

Here, then, are my thoughts on which ones they should be – but, for completeness, the selections do pick up on some bottles I have recommended previously.

As ever, use any available pictures to help find the wine where they form part of a crowded shelf or on-line page.


What a joy can be found in the apple crumble influences in The Society’s Prosecco (£10.95 at www.thewinesociety.com) from Teviso with its creaminess, sherbet lemon acidity and supplementary ripe pear flavours.

And for other sparkling options

From distant shores it may be, but there is a lovely sense of British summertime about 2019 Bird in Hand Sparkling Pinot Noir (£15.99 at Waitrose) with its aromatic but crisp strawberry and red current flavours and the cream soda background that accompanies them. 

Interesting to see how Bordeaux cremant is marching forward – even unto rosé versions – as 2017 Calvet Cremant de Bordeaux Brut Rosé (£12.99 at Ocado) demonstrates with its delicate strawberry and ripe cherry flavours, gentle lemon acidity and good effervescence.

At this point I was planning to commend Graham Beck’s The Rhona Brut whichM&S were stocking but I cannot find it on sale anywhere. If you are more successful note, in particular, its lively mouth feel and grapefruit centred vitality coupled with attractive apple and melon flavours.

Now for a Home Run

The high quality of English wine is beautifully demonstrated by the rounded raspberry and apple backbone of 2016 Rathfinny Classic Cuvée (£29.50 from the winery) as well as the grapefruit acidity and evolving nutty depth that support it.

For a keenly price introduction to the concept of English wine, head for the weighty but very lively Ellercombe English Quality Sparkling Wine that brings us a brioche and vanilla finish and zingy citrus acidity.

This wine is down from £24 to £18 until 8 December at Sainsbury’s but comes down even further if you include it in the “25% off when you buy (a mixed) six” deal that the retailer is currently offering.    

On to champagne, of course

Veuve Monsigny Champagne (£12.99 at Aldi) remains outstanding value for money with its soft and smooth apple and lemon flavours balanced with biscuit depth from a “third each” blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier.

Lidl also has a presentable champagne around the £12 mark but I am now looking at an impressive choices a little further up the price ladder.

2014 Champagne Comte de Senneval (£19.99 at Lidl while stocks last) is an especially good example of vintage champagne and brings us small, busy bubbles leading into a delicate pear and pithy grapefruit flavour range.

Returning to Non Vintage versions, it is hard to beat the astonishing value of  Champagne Les Pionniers NV Brut (£19 at the Co-op) with its biscotti style richness that is integrated nicely with the wine’s peach and raspberry elements and creamy texture.

Reverting to vintage champagne for a moment, I was impressed by the lively mousse and small energetic bubbles that 2013 Nicolas Courtin Champagne Brut (from £24.99 at Majestic) uses to give verve to its rich, brioche, apple and melon flavours.

For a (usually) more expensive choice – and where volume is a constraint – seriously consider a half bottle of Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve (£21.99 for 37.5cl at www.vinatis.co.uk) and relish the finesse and delicacy of its orange zestiness and hints of peach and pithy acidity.

For a high scoring, complex, lees-aged champagne, the guy you are looking for is Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvée Brut (from £39.99 at Majestic) with its soft green apple and peach flavours, slowly evolving acidity and biscuit based richness. This really is a quality option.   

Join us again on Monday for the final pre-Christmas Top Tips and review of supermarket offers.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Brian,

    I’d agree about the Rhona but it might be out because I’ve already cleared M&S out of it! The Graham Beck Chardonnay Pinot Noir at Waitrose is a very nice white fizz too.

    But there are some other nice wines there to try in your list, so many thanks.

  2. Ah! So, you’re the guilty party! Mind you I don’t blame you for stocking up on it – and you are sporting enough to suggest an alternative. I have not tried that Waitrose option but it does have an enthusiastic following so may be a sound substitute. After all Graham Beck wines are usually ultra reliable ….. Best … Brian

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