To raise a glass to the end of a great harvest, here are some sparkling champagnes.
Champagne lovers looking for a best value, with the potential to be served at either a big bash or a beggar’s banquet, should try Waitrose Brut NV, France (£19.99, Waitrose). Produced by Duval-Leroy who are noted for consistency and good quality, it’s pinot noir dominant (for strength and body) and this blend of 90 per cent pinot and 10 per cent chardonnay has a delicious toasty, nutty nose with lovely depth of fruit and freshness on the finish.
The latest vintage release from Moet & Chandon in two years, Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2006, France (£43.99, Tesco) was worth the wait. Mother nature has blessed this classic blend of chardonnay (42 per cent), pinot noir (39 per cent) and pinot meunier (19 per cent) with freshness, ripeness and fruitiness for delicious concentration with plush fruit leading to clean acidity on the finish.
With a new gifting range ahead of the festive season, try the ever popular L urent-Perrier Brut NV, France (£37.99, Waitrose). Fresh, light and elegant, L-P has a much higher proportion of chardonnay (for finesse) than other famous non-vintage styles and it’s fine, crisp and minerally with delicate fruits.
With more than 300 cru villages, small grower champagnes can be just as exciting as some of the grand marques and Vilmart is a fifth generation champagne grower which cites the use of new oak as adding another dimension to its wine. Try Vilmart Grand Reserve Brut Premier Cru NV, France (£27.99, www.virginwines.co.uk), a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay with a floral, lemon nose, a generous palate of attractive citrus fruits with light bready notes and a lingering oaky finish.
Meanwhile, Veuve Fourny Blanc de Blancs Nature Champagne, France (£25, www.31dover.com) is made entirely from premier cru chardonnay grapes without the use of sugar and this zero dosage champagne is bone dry, delicious, and a decadent choice with light Asian bites, especially sushi, and oysters. Crisp with green fruit aromas, and zingy acidity, it’s lively and very approachable with the right food.
Elsewhere, nothing says ‘let’s celebrate!’ like a bottle of Bolli, especially when it’s Bollinger La Grande Annee 2004, France (£64, www.31dover.com). Combining 66 per cent pinot noir and 34 per cent chardonnay grapes from grands crus and premiers crus, La Grande Annee made its screen debut in James Bond’s Casino Royale and this latest release lives up to expectations with plenty of bang for your buck. Rich and powerful with a toasty, nutty nose, hints of baked fruit underpinned with spice and a sumptuous, full palate, it delivers to the very last, delectable drop.
With bubbles born from the same village as Bollinger, Gosset in Ay are celebrating their 430th anniversary and for a sweet ending, the oldest wine house in Champagne have released a new cuvee, Gosset Petite Douceur Rose, Extra Dry, France (£57.50, www.champagnedirect.co.uk). Extra dry meaning a hint of sweetness with sugar at 17g/l (as opposed to 15g/l in a brut style), it’s a delightful blend of 60 per cent chardonnay and 40 per cent pinot noir, including seven per cent red wine. With a plentiful nose of strawberries and raspberries, and a silky, sensual full palate ending with a subtle sweetness, this salmon pink beauty can be sipped with savoury dishes just as greedily as with a fresh, cream pastry.