Pop! A sure-fire way to get the party started is the sound of corks popping, and cementing New Year celebrations with the happiest of drinks – especially when it’s the dawn of a new decade – is one of life’s glistening pleasures.
As the French poet the Abbe de Challieu wrote in 1715 upon first tasting champagne: “Hardly did it appear, than from my mouth it passed into my heart.”
And for those heart-felt, celebratory moments, this luxurious experience continues to defy the odds with champagne playing a dominant role – especially when we want to shine as bright as the bubbles in our glass, and toast the chorus of good wishes and kisses.
Read our ultimate guide to Champagne including how to serve, store and open a champagne bottle.
But which bottle to choose? Here’s our pick…
1. Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Champagne NV, France (£17.99 from £23.99, until Jan 2, Waitrose)
Champagne growers like to keep us on our toes, and here we have a beautifully poised blanc de noirs made only from pinot noir, rather than a mix of black grapes. Stylish and elegant, with a delicate fruity palate highlighted by notes of freshly baked pastry and a lovely yeasty freshness.
2. Les Pionniers Champagne NV, France (£18 from £19, until Jan 3, Co-op stores)
Top of the pops and extraordinary quality for a budget bubbly, this little nugget was awarded a Decanter Best Award this year and is cited by some of the country’s top wine critics as their supermarket champagne of choice. Rich, round and toasty without being heavy, it’s one of our favourites too.
3. Champagne Delacourt Brut NV, France (£20 from £25, until Jan 2, Marks & Spencer)
Another winner in our supermarket sweep, there’s brioche, nuts and vanilla on the nose, with peachy, citrusy fruit flavours. And with an enticing creamy texture, it feels fresh, rich and offers a taste of the high life.
4. Champagne Pol Roger Brut Reserve Limited Edition NV, France (£45, The Finest Bubble)
Winston Churchill’s champagne of choice, this limited-edition gift box is dedicated to the great man himself. He loved Pol Roger’s full-bodied style, and we think the loyal devotee would have been delighted with the winner of the Winston Churchill Design Competition 2019. The design is based on one of Churchill’s most famous paintings, The Goldfish Pool at Chartwell, and “pays homage to and unites two of Churchill’s great passions; painting and Champagne Pol Roger”.
5. Champagne Palmer & Co Blanc de Blancs NV, France (£47.95, The Finest Bubble)
Choosing a champion champers does have its drawbacks, especially in the case of this World Champion (in magnum) at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships 2019. Sumptuous and expressive with its floral nose, toasty, round, pristine fruit flavours and elegant mineral character providing freshness and drive, it’s the Rolls-Royce of blanc de blancs (100% chardonnay), and so engaging you won’t want to share it with anyone.
6. Moet & Chandon Limited Edition 150th Anniversary Impérial Champagne NV, France (£50, Harvey Nichols)
What says celebration better than a limited-edition 150th bottling from the world’s most famous champagne house? Moet & Chandon’s rite of passage has taken the brand to the silver screen, the winner’s podium and countless star-studded events. “With Moet Impérial we are looking for a style that consistently blends in three essential elements,” says their cellar master. “A bright fruitiness, a seductive palate and an elegant maturity.” An A-list champagne that’s deliciously accessible.
7. Champagne Vilmart Grand Cellier d’Or 2013, France (£55.99, Virgin Wines)
A very stylish small grower champagne, this blend of chardonnay (80%) and pinot noir shows impressive structure, with an exceptional bouquet replete with creamy, fruity aromas with hints of candied fruits and nuts, and the perfect support act for the lovely nutty, fruit and minerally, lengthy, heavenly finish.
8. Billecart-Salmon Vintage 2008, France (£70, Champagne Direct)
Cited as a stunning vintage for champagne, this 2008 is tasting absolutely beautiful. Described as ‘intense and seductive’, it’s rich and silky and all pastry and citrusy fruit with delightful hints of almonds and patisserie and a fine line of acidity. And with a sweeping finish, it’s powerful enough to carry all your hopes and dreams for the New Year.