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Finest Champagne labels trounced by own-brands

Forget the Bollinger this Christmas and go for decent supermarket fizz – top labels have been trounced by cheaper brands at an expert blind tasting.

According to Which? magazine, the organ of the highly-respected UK Consumers’ Association, the best-tasting Champagne on the shelves at the moment is Tesco Brut NV at £12.99 (€20.37). That’s followed by Champagne H Blin Brut at £18.99 (€29.78).

In the blind tasting organised by the magazine, Mumm Cordon Rouge (£19.49/€30.56), Veuve Clicquot (£23.99/€37.62), Bollinger (£27.99/€43.89), Moet & Chandon (£20.47/€32.10), and Oeil de Perdrix (£17.49/€27.43) all came much lower in the list, although all were in the top 20.

Which? Asked the major UK supermarkets and specialist chains to nominate two Champagnes and one sparkling wine from anywhere in the world (apart from the Champagne region) from their lists. Thirty-two were selected, and then Bollinger, Moet, and Veuve Clicquot were added, bringing the total to 35.

These were then tasted blind by a panel of experts including MWs and trade buyers.

Out of the supermarkets, Tesco fared best – although its Vintage Champagne 1996 (£15.99/€25.07) came far lower in the ranking than the non-vintage. The Waitrose Vintage 1996 (£18.99/€29.78) did well, coming fourth.

The winning Champagne was described as ‘fresh and clean with creamy edges and classic champagne character.’

Overall the Champagnes fared better than the sparkling wines. Only one sparkler, Deutz Marlborough Cuvee from New Zealand (£10.99/€17.23) managed to make it into the magazine’s buying guide.

Which? concludes it was an unexceptional tasting. One panellist said, ‘There were many one-dimensional dull and neutral wines. I was generally disappointed by the quality.’

Another panellist said, ‘This tasting shows what a minefield finding enjoyable fizz is.’

Written by Adam Lechmere4 December 2002

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