Normally, I would not write anything in reference to what to drink around xmas and nye, but recently the influx of opinions have put me in a position that as a Champagne drinker I have to concede and say something.
People are talking about the review of 'Which?' in relation to Champagnes best buys. Yes, I think it is a marvelous thing to impartially advise on what is good and/or what is a good buy.
I have always been following the supermarket brands of Champagnes and they all have changed. The best one I remember was actually Waitrose Blanc de Blancs which is made by Mesnil from Cote de Blanc. I have to warn you that this is not a classic Champagne! And neither is a pure Blanc de Noirs! The quality of Champagne varied, and so did the taste. This is not only because of storage, stocks, price, shipping or my mood, but inevitably trends and bottom line. I remember when Tesco did its pure blanc de noirs which was exquisite. I also remember that Sainsbury's blanc de noir was a bit dull and hard to drink.
Anyway, what struck me in the article was the declaration of what Champagne should be; whoever said it is biased and probably never listened in or been to Champagne. The rule number 1, the ultimate rule of Champagne is ABOVE ALL, balance! All champagne wines, the fizzy kind, are always balanced, that is the ultimate rule to which all Champagne houses adhere! Everyone! So whether you are Louis Roederer, Laurent-Perrier, Salon, Krug, Bollinger, Deutz, Charles Heidseick, Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouet, Delamotte, Mumm, your key mission in creating your cuvee is balance. Now, this may seem trivial, but achieving balanced cuvee in a region that is so diverse in producing varied intensities of each of its grape varieties is quite a mission. Champagne producers are so good at it, that it is taken for granted. A good example is how other regions outside of Champagne have managed to achieve balance - just to revert to my previous entries, Akarua fizz from New Zealand is a perfect example of good balance; or Graham Beck from South Africa.
The next rudimentary criterion of Champagne is a bit more elusive but it is one of the fundamental blocks in drinking Champagne. Champagne has to drink itself; by that I mean that if you are drinking Champagne with every glass you drink you want more. This is chiefly down to the alcohol content but the style plays an important role as well.
Now, one more thing you need to know. Remember that the likes of Moet, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl etc are made in volumes and I mean loads. The question of quality of grapes will be important to pose. As much as all are Champagnes the quality of the grapes is on the lower scale; save tesco, as it indicates they have a premier cru (and if I am not mistaken, Waitrose actually has grand cru).
So what to drink this year?
Well, if you are on a budget and you need to buy loads to cater for a large group of people, get the Tesco Premier Cru. Overall, it is a good wine, good price, it has been consistent, plus it is from one of the best villages in Champagne.
Although I am going to be slandered for saying this, Lanson is on special and despite the fact that LVMH have stripped them off all the good vineyards, they keep producing consistently good wines! The NV is on special, but if you can get the vintage, or the Cuvee Noble you won't be disappointed in quality, sensation and price.
As regards, Piper or Moet, well, there is a reason why one is called Pepsi and the other Coke of Champagne.
The two Champagnes I drank in the past few months, were Bonnaire and Lalier. So if you can get your hands on those you will be guaranteed to have a sensational experience.
So, merry holidays. :)