From the archives

The best Champagne buys this Christmas (updated)

Champagne is never exactly cheap (think what you could get if you spent the equivalent amount on a bottle of still wine) but Christmas is undoubtedly when you can get the best bargains. (Updated Dec 20th)

Would a cheaper bottle of sparkling wine do? Of course it would from a taste point of view, especially if you're using it to make a cocktail or for parties but for raising a glass to your nearest and dearest on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve, champagne is what it's all about.

By this stage in the game convenience is everything so I've tried to find a good buy in most of the major UK supermarkets and multiples. And don't forget your local wine merchant, if you're lucky enough to have one, may have a reasonably priced deal on a grower's Champagne i.e. one made by the guy who grows the grapes rather than blended from grapes from many different vineyards like most of the big brands. They're often just as good and don't have to carry such a large advertising budget.

Finally remember that the 'half price' bargains you spot are never as good as they seem - the initial price is almost always inflated. And avoid a totally unknown Champagne like Sainsbury's Antoine Clevecy or Tesco's Francois Dubois of which I've never heard. I may be telling you to pass up the best bargain of Christmas but I wouldn't personally take the risk.

PS: I've tried to check prices as carefully as possible so I hope they're accurate. Christmas Champagne pricing is a minefield. Stocks may also have run out in certain branches. There may be further last minute offers next week but I'd be wary of anything pitched at under £12.

Heidsieck Blue Top Champagne £15 (down from £26.98), a good price on a reliable buy. And - a couple of people have reminded me - Asda's Extra Special 2002 vintage champagne at £18, great value for a Champagne of this age.

I couldn't find a Champagne to recommend this year. But the rather stylish looking Philippe Michel 2008 Cremant du Jura (£6.99) would be good for a party.

Tsarine Premium Brut (£19.99 down from £39.99) - not the cheapest offer around but a good rich toasty Champagne and an impressive-looking bottle.

Charles de Cazenove £15.99 down from £31.99 and the award-winning Co-operative Les Pionniers 2004 Champagne (£22.99) - both likely to be in larger branches only.

Comte de Brisand Champagne brut (£12.99). I was told by a buyer this was modelled on Veuve Clicquot though it's a touch sweeter. Lidl also has rather stylish magnums of Champagne Bissinger for £34.99 which are even better if you can lay your hands on one.

Canard-Duchne brut £15 down from £25. Not the most exciting Champagne out there but much improved. A great favourite of the French. Heidsieck Gold Top vintage 2005 (£18 down from £22) if you want a richer style.

Sainsbury's Blanc de Blancs Champagne £13.99 down from £20.99. Etienne Dumont Brut £15.99 (down from £31.99 though I've never seen it at that. But it's perfectly decent and Sainsbury's annual best seller).

Tesco Finest Premier Cru n.v. £14.99 down from £19.99. Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne £14.99 down from £29.99.

Duval Leroy Fleur de Champagne down to £14.24 until January 3rd has replaced Bredon Brut (now back at £25.64) as the buy of the moment at Waitrose. Waitrose's own 2004 vintage brut is also very good value at £23.99 down from £29.99. A delicious vintage Champagne if you don't mind having Waitrose plastered all over the label.

There are no deals I'd particularly recommend at the time of writing in Budgen's, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Oddbins, Spar or Wine Rack, but will update this list should one suddenly become available.


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