Keep the sparkle as we move into the new year

Celebrate spring with some special cocktails
Celebrate spring with some special cocktails

Voted Best Wine Merchant of the Year 2013, The Wine Society carefully vets it own-label vino and the Champagne NV, France (£29, {||Click here to visit The Wine Society}) is everything you could ask for in an easy-drinking style.

A classic blend of pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay, it’s blessed with a generous bouquet of toasty nuts and yeast, a full and fruity palate with good acidity, and enough power and finesse to stand up to the occasion.

Surprisingly outstanding value is Selfridges Selection Esprit Brut NV, Henri Giraud, France (£26.99 from £29.99,, produced for Selfridges by Henri Giraud, owner of a string of vineyards making some of the finest wines in Champagne.

His Esprit is 70 per cent pinot noir and 30 per cent chardonnay, and this liquid gold is opulent and fresh with peachy fruit flavours, toasty vanilla notes, a powerful mouthfeel and a giant of a finish.

Brits, as the largest importer of Champagne, have always had a thirst for vintage wines (grapes from a single year), which normally indicate an outstanding harvest and a designer price tag.

However, if you fancy the rich rewards of grand cru grapes without the over-spending, some supermarket own-label vintages offer excellent value.

Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference 1er Cru 2005 Vintage Champagne, France (£25.99, Sainsbury’s) is supremely elegant with fresh stone fruit flavours with lemony nuances, rich and structured with a pleasant mineral streak (it’s 80 per cent chardonnay which also adds finesse) to keep it fresh and lively, but still seductive enough to keep coming back to, sip after sip.