Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Best of the Bubbly; Fiona Beckett Makes Her Selection of Favourite Champagnes for Christmas

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Best of the Bubbly; Fiona Beckett Makes Her Selection of Favourite Champagnes for Christmas

Article excerpt

Byline: FIONA BECKETT

THE Millennium is now a distant memory but more of us are buying champagne - and with good reason.

The quality is better than ever, yet retailers are falling over themselves to offer hefty discounts, particularly if you buy more than one bottle.

That said, beware of ultracheap deals (under [pounds sterling]10) and unfamiliar names. I wouldn't buy a case of something I hadn't heard of without checking a bottle first. Don't turn your nose up at supermarket own brands, they source them carefully and, if you've never tasted vintage champagne before, now is the time to try it - the widely available 1996 vintage was sensational.

Oudinot Brut (

[pounds sterling]9.99 at Marks & Spencer until 31 December) M &S is not the first place you'd think of hunting for bargain bubbly but it is offering its Oudinot champagne at a [pounds sterling]5 discount - more than 30 per cent off. Pleasantly soft and creamy, it's the ideal base for champagne cocktails and party drinking (if that isn't too backhanded a compliment). And the M&S branding is discreet, so nobody need know where you bought it.

G H Martel Prestige Brut

(Normally [pounds sterling]15.99, reduced to [pounds sterling]12.99 at Safeway until 3 January) Many producers do not mount flashy advertising campaigns so are not particularly well known.

But they are excellent value, so they're the ones the French tend to buy from. This well-made, well-presented example delivers exactly what you want from a party champagne - it's fresh and lively, not sharp, and has enough depth to stand up to strongly flavoured canapes.

Laytons Brut

([pounds sterling]15 a bottle, [pounds sterling]13.85 a bottle if you buy a case) Supermarkets are not the only ones to offer bargain bubbly. Wine merchants have their house champagnes, too. This elegant, smooth, creamy fizz is long established under the Laytons label (now owned by the wineand-cheese chain Jeroboams: www.jeroboams.co.uk, 020 7727 9359). Ideal for parties. Also in halves and magnums.

Fleury Brut

([pounds sterling]18.99 at Waitrose) Surprised to hear you can buy organic champagne? And it's more than drinkable. Fleury Brut is produced from biodynamically grown grapes (treated and harvested in line with the phases of the moon). A rich, complex, grownup champagne with a freshly baked bread aroma that would taste at its best with food.

Pommery Pop Art Collection

([pounds sterling]29.99 for three 20 cl bottles at Selfridges) Not the cheapest way to buy champagne, but it has to be the cutest. Pommery commissioned these eye-catching designs from a young French designer - there are two three-bottle sets to collect. Put one on everyone's place setting at the start of Christmas lunch.

Louis Roederer Brut Premier

([pounds sterling]24. …

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