“Wine can of their wits the wise beguile, Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile”


It’s been a long while since we looked at Champagne and with the sun promising to show a face and Wimbledon on its way, I thought the column should sparkle a wee bit.

Champers has long been associated with Royalty and high society but it’s also for the great unwashed like me and, dare I say, you. But do beware because there's an awful lot of badgers' backsides out there in the world of fizz.

Champagne has become a term that people use when drinking any fizz, a bit like when we are going to hoover but we use a Shark or a Dyson but it really is fur coat and no knickers to call something Champagne when it isn't.

There are some cracking champagnes for under £20 but there are also some mind blowing wines if your wallet stretches a trifle. Champagne's main problem isn't the price though, it’s that it’s a bit over complicated. Personally I prefer the dry styles produced as non-vintage wines because the winemaker is able to adapt the blend from a number of different years to produce a consistent, reliable wine.

That said, some of the vintage wines can be corkers if you are prepared to shell out a bit for them. Prestige cuvées form the backbone of the industry and they tend to be blends of red and white grapes, but a style I've grown quite attached to of late are the Blanc de Blancs, which are produced entirely from the whites and retain a tad more bite and crispness to the palate. Blanc de Noir is made entirely from the red grapes Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, but to me they just taste fat and too squidgy to be serious champagnes. Other than Rosé Champagnes, which are of course the only thing to drink if romance is in the air, the other main style are the sweet and medium sweet Champagnes, sec and demi sec respectively but there we go, we’ve mentioned them!

Before I tell you about a massive surprise from one of the budget retailers, let me tell you how I first fell in love with Champagne. I love thrillers and for years, I satiated my appetite on Jack Higgins' rogue hero Sean Dillon, the colourful Irish born spy with a penchant for half bottles of Krug non-vintage. I had to try it and while it tends to be on the meatier side of the champagne styles, I loved it. The only problem with Krug is you need to sell your kidney to buy a case but hey ho, the good lord gave us two! Anyway, if your budget doesn't run to Krug, Bollinger or la Grande Dame, take a look at the latest rose from Aldi - yes Aldi, folks. Anyway it’s time to spread the love, so pip pip for another week.

Billecart Salmon Brut Rosé

A stunning champers with rich strawberry aromas and plenty of lively red fruits on the palate.

Bottle Apostle £69.00

Veuve Monsigny Rosé

I really wanted to hate this as champagne at a budget price is generally as pleasant as connecting your tongue to electrodes but oh my, was I in for a shock. This multi-award winner has a light raspberry nose with crisp and very defined red berry fruits on the palate, and just wait until you see the price!

Aldi £16.99

Gerrard Richardson - wine columnist