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UK supermarket Waitrose beats top Champagne houses

UK supermarket Waitrose has beaten top Champagne houses including Louis Roederer, Charles Heidsieck and Vilmart in a comprehensive non-vintage tasting.

Of the 146 non-vintage Champagnes tasted for the January 2008 issue of Decanter, Waitrose own-label Blanc de Blancs, priced at £18.99, earned five stars (outstanding) – tying with Piper-Heidseick’s Cuvee Rare (£53.66).

The panel, which included Dermot Sugrue, winemaker for UK sparkling wine producer Nyetimber, and Nick Adams MW of wine merchants John Armit, noted ‘signs of maturity and perhaps reserve wine in the blend’.

Other favourites included Boizel Brut Reserve from family-owned Champagne Boizel, based in Epernay and D de Devaux La Cuvee, from the brand owned by the Union Auboise, a collective of co-operatives based in the Aube region. These were among the 11 Champagnes including Louis Roederer, Vilmart and Charles Heidsieck to be given a four-star rating (highly recommended).

Booths NV Champagne (£14.99) another UK supermarket entry, received three stars (recommended) and was named ‘best value’ Champagne of the tasting.

Tasters were impressed with the high quality of many of the wines submitted for the tasting.

‘I had about a dozen wines I marked with over 17 points,’ said Champagne expert Giles Fallowfield.

Waitrose has fared consistently well in panel tastings in recent years. Among many accolades, the NV Blanc de Blancs also won the Regional Non-Vintage Champagne Over £10 Trophy at the 2007 Decanter World Wine Awards.

  • The January issue of Decanter magazine is out now.

    Written by Maggie Rosen

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