93

NV De St Gall Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne

( £29 down to £21.75, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

Well up to the very good standards of the Union Champagne co-op, this all Chardonnay fizz from Premier and Grand Cru villages is a very refined drop: fresh, focused and well structured with lowish dosage (residual sugar) and hints of brioche and citrus fruits. A Champagne that will age well, too, on past performance. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-17Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
89

2013 Valdo Oro Puro Porosecco Superiore NV, Valdobbiadene

( £12.99 down to £9.75, 11%, Waitrose )

There’s an ocean of chearp Prosecco on the market at the moment, but it’s worth trading up a bit to get hold of something with more concentration and flavour. This is light and fruity (as you’d expect), with peach and pear fruitiness, but there’s some appealing spice in the background, too, supported by a cushion of soft bubbles. Very gluggable. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Italy, Sparkling, Prosecco
94

2004 Waitrose Brut Special Reserve Vintage Champagne

( £30.99 down to £23.25, 12%, Waitrose )

Waitrose doesn’t source its Vintage Champagne from P&C Heidsieck any more, alas, so get hold of this amazing fizz while it’s still on the shelves. It’s toasty and rich, with layer upon layer of flavour, fine bubbles, incredible length and just enough dosage to balance the acidity. A complex, savoury bubbly that’s a steal under £30. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
88

NV Albinea Canali Lambrusco Secco, Ottocentonero, Lambrusco dell'Emilia, Emilia-Romagna

( £7.95, 11.5%, The Wine Society )

Visitors to Bologna will be familiar with drier styles of the local frothy red, Lambrusco. Elsewhere, it tends to be regarded as sweet and a bit too commercial, which is a shame, as wines like this one deserve a wider audience. Juicy, dry and very drinkable, even with food, this has bright plum and black cherry fruit, a nip of tannin and a mouthful of bubbles. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, Sparkling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Lambrusco, Lancellotta
88

NV Finest* Premier Cru Champagne Brut, Champagne

( £19.99 down to £12.74, 12.5, Tesco )

Just in case you think I’ve got the maths wrong, this wine is already on a deal until October 1st at £16.99, so the combined discount brings it to £12.74. It’s a youthful, Chardonnay-dominated bubbly with 30% Pinot Noir adding fruit to the former variety’s acidity and structure. It could do with a little more bottle age (what do you expect for such a well-priced wine?) so don’t be afraid to tuck it away for a year or two. But right now, it’s very drinkable: zesty and fresh, with notes of citrus, wet stone and brioche.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
87

NV Tesco Cava Reserva NV, Penedès

( £6.99 down to £5.24, 11.5%, Tesco )

A traditional Cava blend (with no sign of international Chardonnay or Pinot Noir), this bottle-fermented and aged fizz is on the dry side, with crisp acidity, a hint of earthiness (more pleasant than it sounds, believe me) and a tangy, lightly toasty finish. Great party fizz. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo, Parellada, Xarel-lo
90

NV Jansz, Premium Non Vintage Cuvée, Tasmania

( £15.75, 12.5% )

Jansz’s “ordinary” cuvée is pretty good, so you’d expect a premium cuvée to be even better. And, guess what, you won’t be disappointed. This is a little richer and toastier than the regular release, with notes of toast and cream and a supple cushion of bubbles. Appealingly dry. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Australia, Sparkling
90

NV Harvey Nichols Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Valdobbiadene Prosecco, Veneto

( £15, 11%, Harvey Nichols )

A Prosecco with a bit of bling? You might blink at the idea of spending £15 on a bottle of cuve close method fizz, but this is rather good: drier than most examples, with floral aromas, pear and nectarine fruit and small bubbles. Soft and very easy to drink, darling. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-14Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, Italy, Sparkling, Prosecco
94

NV Franck Bonville Grand Cru Champagne, Champagne

( £39, 12.5%, Marks & Spencer )

OK, this costs nearly £40, but so do plenty of Champagnes that aren’t anything like as good as this Blanc de Blancs from growers, Herny and Ludovic Beaufort. The wine tastes as good as it looks, with masses of rich, nutty, bready flavours, a lowish dosage and 20% reserve wines to add extra concentration and weight. This is what I’ll be drinking as we open the pressies on Christmas morning. 

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
88

NV The Society's Reserva Brut Cava, Penedès

( £7.50, 11.5%, The Wine Society )

Sourced from a small family estate in the Penedès region near Barcelona, this is a traditional style of Cava made from three local grapes and a hint of more international Chardonnay. It’s aromatic and yeasty, with notes of white pepper and fresh earth, a dry, tapering finish and good balance. Ideal as a party fizz instead of more expensive Champagne.  

BuyDrinking window: 2012-14Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Spain, Sparkling, Macabeo
94

NV Taittinger, Prélude, Champagne

( £47, 12%, Fortnum & Mason, Hailsham Cellars, Harrods, Majestic, Wine Rack )

If you can’t afford Comtes de Champagne (the 2000 is delicious), this is a more than acceptable substitute at under £50. It’s got lovely toasty, autolytic complexity, notes of grilled hazelnuts and citrus fruit and a very long, satifying finish. A delicious fizz.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-20Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay
92

NV Taittinger Brut, Champagne

( £37.99, 12%, Majestic, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose, Wine Rack )

Taittinger is in a rich vein of form at the moment, from this its non vintage blend right up the Olympian heghts of Comtes de Champagne. This is dry, toasty and well balanced with Chardonnay providing the freshness and lift on the palate. Appealingly dry for non vintage blend, using bottle age rather than sweetness for balance.

BuyDrinking window: 2012-17Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Chardonnay