Thirsty work: at the midnight hour

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New Year’s Eve is one of those magical moments when only champagne will do, so see in 2015 with some of these classy bubbles - there’s something for everyone, from budget-conscious champagne lovers to those who like to celebrate with a flute of something more fancy...

:: A catchy name that’s easy to remember (but not related to the fashion brand) French Connection Brut Champagne NV (£11.99 from £13.99, from December 29 to January 5, Bargain Booze) is part of a portfolio of French wines designed to make your wine experience a mix of quality, value and pleasure. A champagne that really shines for the price, it’s a classic blend of chardonnay, pinot meunieur and pinot noir, it’s lively and bright with a toasty, fruity freshness from start to finish.

Undated Handout Photo of Thienot Cuvee Garance Blanc de Noirs Champagne 2006, See PA Feature DRINK Drink Column. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature DRINK Drink Column.

Undated Handout Photo of Thienot Cuvee Garance Blanc de Noirs Champagne 2006, See PA Feature DRINK Drink Column. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Handout. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature DRINK Drink Column.

:: One of youngest champagne houses and number one bestselling brand in France, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut NV Champagne (£15 from £31.99, from now until January 6, Tesco) is always a crowd pleaser with its fresh, floral nose, medium fruit intensity and nice, nutty finish. The largest co-operative union in Champagne, it can call on more than 5,000 grape growers to carve this liquid gold into a reasonably-priced and accessible style.

:: Lidl’s French wine section is going from strength to strength this holiday season and with nuggets such as Comte de Senneval, Champagne Grand Cru Brut, France (£17.99, Lidl) made from grand cru grapes from the finest vineyards retailing at less than £20, this could lay the foundations for a New Year’s Eve party with plenty of panache. Rich and toasty with the elegance and complexity you would expect from a grand cru.

:: For wine buffs who like a small grower champagne (lesser known family estates who own vineyards), why not try Lucie et Sebastien Cheurlin Champagne (£18, which is an equal blend of pinot noir (for strength and body) and chardonnay (for structure and finesse). One to perk up the palate before the countdown begins, there’s apple pie and vanilla on the nose with nice rounded body and a long, clean finish.

:: A gold medal winner at the International Wine Challenge (IWC), Tesco Finest Vintage Grand Cru Champagne 2007 (£24.99, Tesco) is a blanc de blancs made from 100% chardonnay and it’s rich and harmonious with a bready, toasty nose, delicate pure fruits and an underlaying minerality on the long finish and has the potential for further ageing.

:: In a league of its own and a wine you can really fall in love with, Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne (Currently £29.99 from £36.99, is elegant and feminine with a high proportion of chardonnay making you really want to tap into its freshness and generous fruitiness. Perfect for after-hours canapes with the hardier party guests.

:: Cited by some wine critics as possibly the best-tasting rose champagne in the world, the delicate fruit flavours in Billecart Salmon Rose Champagne, (£59.35, are enhanced by the addition of pinot noir made as red wine in the blend, which adds another dimension to an elegant rose that caresses the palate with raspberry fruit flavours and a splendid finish. Simply divine.

:: If you’re looking for something that’s well made and a little unusual to mark the New Year, Thienot Cuvee Garance Blanc de Noirs Champagne 2006 (£66.25, is a vintage champagne made from the black grape pinot noir that’s associated with structure, strength and body. Powerful and flexible enough to pair with white fish, white meat and even a truffle risotto, it’s rich and flavoursome with texture, spice and citrus notes all leading to a lively freshness on the finish that’ll satisfy even the most demanding champagne lover.


Gin O’clock... If you can’t quite nail which gin you want to drink, and your taste varies on the time and the day, then Warner Edwards Trio of Miniatures (3 x 5cl, £18, ) gift pack is a great chance to line up the big, bold, spicy flavours of Harrington Sloe Gin, the 11 sweet, spicy botanicals in Harrington Dry Gin, and then round the tasting off with Warner Edwards Elderflower Infused Gin, a sweet, floral gin to banish the winter blues.


Can a mail-out of monthly miniatures enhance your appreciation of fine wine? Well, Vinoa seem to think so with their wine sampling service. Geared towards providing wine enthusiasts with the tools needed to discover new regions, they deliver a monthly tasting box (£9.99, to the door.

“Getting a small taste of wine is something you used to be able to do in traditional independent wine shops, and even in restaurants,” says Gregoire Frileux, chief technical officer, Vinoa. “We wanted to bring this experience to UK wine customers so that they can enjoy the magic of wine, at home.”

Each month, subscribers will receive four 50ml samples of carefully chosen stand-out wines from one of the world’s classic wine regions. Each of the samples chosen best represents the styles of the region and members can then choose their favourites from the ‘Wine Shop’ and take advantage of Vinoa’s promotional prices.

For more info visit