Broke the bank on Christmas booze and still got New Year to get through? Raise your glass to some good-value sparklers

How are you this morning... or shouldn't I ask? If you're only just starting to blink, bleary-eyed and bloated, at the Boxing Day papers, then fizz will be further from your thoughts than next year's Christmas pudding - unless it's of the effervescent plink-plink variety. Your cash-flow may also be at a low ebb, and it's a cruel irony of the festive season that just when you're nearly bankrupt, along comes a stocking- full of bargain Champagnes and sparkling wines.

There are more bargains than ever this year, with retailers falling over themselves to come up with the ultimate promotional discount. And with only Tuesday to Thursday to do your shopping before New Year's Eve, it's worth contemplating one do-or-die spree. Certainly anyone needing fizz for a party or wedding early in the New Year would do well to look at some of the current deals.

My own sparkling wine baptism began in the early 1980s with Castellblanch Brut Zero Cava. I stuck with this good-value Spanish fizz for so long that I could have lined a roof with the lead capsules I collected. The price, I seem to remember, hovered around pounds 3.49. While the quality of the bubbly has improved considerably over the years, competition and the power of the supermarkets has kept the price of Cava to a minimum. So much so that the reliable Tesco Cava has been reduced by a fairly significant pounds 1.50, from pounds 4.99 to pounds 3.49, until 5 January, an offer well worth grabbing. And, until next Saturday, the full-flavoured, tangy-fresh Sainsbury's Cava is also reduced, from pounds 4.99 to pounds 3.99.

Blanquette de Limoux, made mainly from the Mauzac grape in the south of France, claims a heritage dating back to 1531. Clearly, it lacked the marketing nous of Champagne's Dom Perignon, as its price seems to have changed little over time. Waitrose is offering a particularly good deal this week, bringing the pounds 6.75 price of its yeasty, biscuity Cuvee Royale, Blanquette de Limoux, down to a fiver each when you buy two.

But it's down to Sainsbury's for possibly the best Champagne deal this week. Normally pounds 11.99, you get one bottle free when you buy six of its fragrant and youthfully fruity Blanc de Noirs Champagne; then there's the normal 5 per cent discount, plus pounds 1 off, all of which subtracts down to a miserly pounds 8.75 per bottle.

When I was enjoying Castellbanch, New World fizz was simply a bubble on the horizon. Angus Brut, released more than a decade ago, was one of the first Aussie sparklers to capture the palates of the British, since when sparkling wines from the southern hemisphere and California have, literally, exploded. Now Angas Brut is back, and not only revamped into a stylish-looking package but with the contents upgraded, too.

Once, a fruit-salad (some might say kitchen-sink) blend of indeterminate grape varieties, it has matured into a grown-up Champagne-style blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Retaining a fresh, made-to-make-your-mouth-water tropical-fruit edge, it has developed an altogether smoother, richer texture. Launched on the market at pounds 5.99 and widely available, it is worth taking advantage of this month's most aggressive deals: pounds 4.49 at Majestic - buy six and save 25 per cent; pounds 4.49 at Oddbins - eight for six; and buy two for pounds 9.99 (Wine Rack, Bottoms Up, Thresher).

Across the Tasman Sea in New Zealand, Montana has developed an enviable reputation for its excellent sparkling wines made with Deutz Champagne expertise. Its own upmarket version of Lindauer, the Lindauer Special Reserve (pounds 8.99, widely available, but on special offer this week only at Thresher, Bottoms Up, Wine Rack, at pounds 7.49) is a delicately pink-tinged Pinot Noir and Chardonnay fizz. Its pure, red-berry aromas feature an unequalled clarity of cool-climate fruit flavours, rounded off with a touch of nuttiness on the aftertaste.

It is no secret that the best New Zealand and California sparkling wines, using Champagne grapes, are now outperforming Champagne at similar price levels. From the Cloudy Bay stable, 1993 Pelorus (pounds 13.99, Fuller's), is a world-class New Zealand sparkling wine bringing the pedigree of its parent Veuve Clicquot Champagne to a complex Champagne-like bouquet and highly well-developed, biscuity flavours in a foaming mouthful of bubbles.

My current favourite non-Champagne sparkling wine is Quartet Brut (pounds 14.95, Waitrose, Majestic, six for five). This stylish fizz, from the Roedere Estate in California's cool Anderson Valley close to the Pacific, beats cheaper Champagnes hand over fist. A number of California sparklers from Champagne houses emphasise the fruitier qualities of California sparkling wine, whereas Quartet - made by the experienced French bubble master, Michel Salgues - aims at a complex, toasty style with a nut-biscuit bouquet and creaminess of texture balanced by the elegant crispness of Mendocino grapes.

Despite the name, finally, you're clearly not intended to wait until millennium eve to taste Tesco's Millennium Cuvee (pounds 19.99) a tempting, golden rich mousse of bubbles. Already the aromas are well-developed with that typical toasty bouquet and what the French refer to, as if it were an oxymoron, as gout Anglais (English taste). The fizz itself is full of attractive beeswax and honeyed flavours topped off by a baked-apple fruitiness.

So, until next year, do keep yourself healthy and re-hydrated with plenty of water alongside the fizz on New Year's Eve. Failing that, my well-qualified colleague, Michael Jackson, will be on hand next Saturday with a few handy remedies for sore heads. Will we ever learn?

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

    salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower