I get a small glow of pride reviewing this wine as I tasted it at a Three Wine Men event and told the Rude Wines team how good it was. I’m delighted to say they agreed with me and listed it. Cottonworth is not one of the best-known English bubbly producers, but it’s definitely a name to keep an eye on if this is typical of future releases. Balanced, elegant and refined, with small bubbles, notes of summer berries and candy floss, a creamy, textured, mid palate and a long, satisfying finish. Great as an aperitif or with a bowl of strawberries.
Red Varietal: Pinot Meunier
NV Les Pionniers, Champagne( £16.99, 12, The Co-operative )
With the way the pound is behaving at the moment, it’s impressive that the Co-op can keep the price of this stunning frizz from Piper Heidsieck under £17. It’s a classy, toasty, mouth-filling bubbly with creamy bubbles, based on the red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but with 20% Chardonnay providing a citrus-edged tang of acidity. The best value Champagne in the country.
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NV Krug, Grande Cuvée, Champagne( £80-£100, 12%, Widely available )
A blend of 20 wines from ten different vintages, some of which are 15 years old, Krug’s non-vintage blend is one of a kind. It’s rich, complex and palate coating, with small bubbles, savoury, umami notes, hints of hazelnut and honey and a dry, refeshing palate. The kind of Champagne that works extremely well with food rather than as an aperitif.
NV Hambledon, Classic Cuvée, Hampshire( £28.50, 12% )
Sourced from England’s oldest commercial vineyard (we are talking 1952), this blend of the Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, is delicious, a fizz that manages to taste English while showing the complexity and nuances of a top Champagne. It’s chalky and dry, with subtle bubbles, hints of fresh pastry and citrus and a tapering finish: elegant, refined and understated.
NV LS Cherlin, Brut, Champagne( £18, 12.5%, 31 Dover )
A broad, fruity, easy drinking fizz that’s great value at under £20, this combines malty, strawberry fruit flavours with a frothy mousse and chalky minerality. It looks the part, too.
NV Chapel Down, Vintage Reserve, Kent( £20, 11.5% )
A lees-aged blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from innovative producer, Chapel Down, this is a well-priced English fizz that delivers in the glass. Toasty and malty with refreshing acidity and a dry, savoury finish, showing fine bubbles.
NV Les Pionniers Selected Cuvée for the Co-operative, Champagne( £19.99, 12%, The Co-operative )
A strong candidate for the best value supermarket bubbly under £20, this is a special blend of mostly Pinot Noir with 20% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. It’s a malty, comparatively dry style with lots of reserve wine richness, flavours of raspberry and milk chocolate, a hint of toasty autolysis and a creamy, well-balanced mid-palate. Smart fizz at the price.
NV Henriot Rosé, Champagne( £46, 12%, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, Oddbins, Planet of the Grapes )
A rosé that deserves to be just as famous as Laurent Perrier’s, this is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs with a little Pinot Meunier. The high percentage of reserve wines (25%) gives the wine added depth and complexity. It’s a complex, red fruit-dominated rosé with a hint of blackcurrant leaf, a balsamic undertone, fine bubbles and refeshing acidity. A really good food rosé.
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NV Sainsbury's Blanc de Noirs Champagne( £20.99 down to £15.74, 12%, Sainsbury's )
Well, that’s my Christmas Party fizz taken care of. This is outrageously good value, a superb own-label Champagne that ranks with the very best buys in the high street right now. It’s a toasty, bottle-aged blend of mostly Pinot Meunier with 40% Pinot Noir and it’s singing at the top of its voice. Small bubbles, great length, richness and complexity, with lots of extra weight from 30% reserve wines. Buy, buy, buy.
2009 South Ridge Cuvée Merret( £19.99, 12.5%, Laithwaites )
If you want to be patriotic this weekend, why not buy a bottle of this excellent English fizz, made from a combination of mostly Chardonnay with 30% Pinot Noir and 22% Pinot Meunier. It’s fresh and malty, with small, pin head bubbles, tangy acidity, a touch of sweetness and a long, refreshing finish. One to take to a street party and share with any wine lovers who are there.