Money might be tight this Christmas but there is good news for champagne lovers after much cheaper supermarket own brands fared better than the prestigious French label Veuve Clicquot in a quaff test.
The Co-op’s Les Pionniers champagne received the top score of 85% in a blind taste test conducted by Which? with the £22.75-a-bottle bubbly wowing the panel with its “smoky notes” and “smooth creaminess”.
Aldi’s Veuve Monsigny premier cru champagne came a close second with a score of 81% and so also earned the consumer champion’s coveted “best buy” award. The £21.99 Aldi fizz showcased “fresh fruit flavours against a savoury backbone”, with one of the judges describing it as a “crowd-pleaser” that won’t blow the budget.
The Co-op and Aldi champagnes were rated more highly than the most expensive champagne the panel tasted. Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label brut champagne, which costs £47 a bottle, received a score of 77%. While the panel said drinkers would not be disappointed by its “classy and crisp taste”, they concluded there were “plenty of cheaper champagnes on the market that are just as, if not more, delicious”.
With a champagne toast an annual festive tradition in many households, Natalie Hitchins, the home products and services editor at Which?, said that given the tough economic picture it was a boon that this year’s “top-scoring supermarket fizz costs less than half the price of an alternative bottle from one of the big-name champagne houses”.
“Our taste tests have found superb supermarket champagnes and cheaper alternatives that deliver on quality and value for money and more than rival a famous champagne house,” she added.
Despite not coming top, at £28 Asda’s Veuve Olivier & Fils Secret de Cave champagne was also praised by the independent wine experts who described it as a “full-flavoured fizz with rich, expressive aromas of spiced apple, red fruit and citrus”.
Another fizz that also won approval was Waitrose’s brut champagne. At £21.99 a bottle it was described by the judges as having “lovely lemony aromas and a pleasing biscuity note”.
If you want to serve bubbles but are looking for a cheaper equivalent to champagne, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Crémant d’Alsace, £11.50, also secured a “best buy” award. The drink’s “subtle complexity” demonstrated that “paying less does not have to mean compromising on quality”, according to the panel.
With the latest official data painting a gloomy picture, showing retail sales fell last month as Britons struggled with higher living costs, analysts are expecting cost-conscious shoppers to buy fewer and cheaper items this Christmas.
With that in mind, a similar Which? exercise that studied supermarket own-brand luxury mince pies also resulted in the Co-op emerging victorious. The retailer’s Irresistible luxury pies secured the top spot thanks to a winning combination of “buttery” pastry and a “sweet glossy filling”. At £2.75 for six, or 46p a pie, the panel also noted a generous filling to pastry ratio.