Bolly magnums only in a few Waitrose stores

A visitor to the site complained earlier in the week that they couldn’t find any discounted magnums of Bollinger Special Cuvée in Waitrose stores and thus I should remove this information from the website. As it states in the Latest champagne offers page, and in the blog published on 11 December this deal which sees the price drop to £67.49 (for Waitrose card holders the magnum price was down to £60.72 until 16 December) is only running in a dozen stores and on I checked with the Waitrose and this is the list of 13 (not 12) outlets they gave me: Bath, Belgravia, Berkhamsted, Cambridge, Canary Wharf, Crewkerne, JL Foodhall Oxford Street, John Barnes, Lymington, Marylebone, Rushden, St Katharine Docks and West Ealing.

I’d be pleased to hear from anyone finding, or not finding, the discounted magnums in any of these stores. When I last checked the website was out of stock but this evening (18 December) it had magnums available, but the discounted price was £75 not £67.49. The discrepancy here appears to be because Waitrose, or possibly Bollinger, has hiked the price of magnums to £100 not the £89.99 figure that went out to journalists a few weeks back in the email giving Waitrose’s wine offers for the current trading period.

It seems the supermarkets (and other large retailers) are changing the regular selling prices so often you may find that a larger percentage discount sometimes results in a higher selling price for certain champagnes.

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Waitrose deals look especially attractive to card holders

Waitrose card holders get an additional 10% off all champagnes and wines on top of the current promotions in a deal that runs until 16 December. There are some good new offers too including two very attractive lines from Besserat de Bellefon – a blanc de blancs and a rosé both at £23.99 — and in a dozen of its largest stores and via you can buy magnums of Bollinger Special Cuvée for £67.49 (£60.72 for card holders). Like Veuve Clicquot’s, the Bollinger magnum blend is longer aged and partly because magnums are the perfect format size for champagne the wine always seems significantly better served from magnum. For Christmas Day or Boxing Day morning this would be a first class treat, likely to make even the most noxious relation seem good company.

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Sainsbury’s 25% off ends today

Today (8 December) is the last day you can enjoy an extra 25% reduction in the price of all wine and champagne sold at Sainsbury’s, if you buy at least six bottles. I wouldn’t expect them to do this blanket deal again before Christmas, though in the current competitive climate I wouldn’t rule it out. I have already suggested the best buys to go for in my blog posted last Sunday (2 December: A current selection of best buys) but to re-iterate the wines which may not come down as low again in price this year are: Sainsbury’s very decent all-Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs (£13.50 if you buy at least six bottles); Jacquart’s Rose, arguably the best pink on the market at under £25 (it’s £21 if you buy six before midnight tonight) though the Besserat de Bellefon pink (Waitrose £23.99) is enjoyable too; and magnums of Veuve Clicquot, the price of which you can get down to £45.

If there is no stock of these left Laurent Perrier Brut at £21 is a fine, delicate aperitif style and Nicolas Feuillatte Grande Reserve is excellent value at just £15 and the Sainsbury’s Blanc de Noirs at £12.75 will provide plenty of mellow enjoyment for those that like a more rounded creamy fizz.

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A current selection of best buys

Now the Tesco £8 deal on the very drinkable Louis Delaunay Brut NV, has come to an end — unless you are in an all night Tesco that still has stocks — which of the current offers is worth making a bee-line for? A quick visit to Sainsbury’s Savacentre in Colliers Wood today, revealed a few things I’d put in my trolley, though I had to scrabble about in the bottom shelf to find the best current buy they offer in the shape of the, back on top form, Sainsbury’s Blanc de Blancs you can pick up for just £13.50 if you buy at least five other bottles of wine.

As a regular supermarket ‘own label’ champagne we didn’t include it in our recent taste off of supermarket ‘exclusive  labels’, but if we had, it would have been right up at the top given its fine biscuity complexity and textural development. Best to get in at least a case for the fast approaching holiday period. You’d have thought given the recent prominent mention in the Which Magazine tasting the grocer would have been shouting about its success with this wine, supplied by Duval Leroy for many years now, but in fact is was completely hidden away. I also spotted this (see picture) gift box wrapped 2004 Vintage of Lanson Gold Label priced at £40, so if you include it in your six bottle plus shop it’s down to just £30, I’d bag a couple of those too. Useful for presents, but if you don’t like anyone that much, good to drink yourself.

2014-12-02 12.58.16 Lanson 2004 gift cartonI didn’t spot but, I guess they were there, the magnums of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, I think if you include them with five bottles you will get the £45 price as the till system doesn’t distinguish between bottles, half bottles and magnum (but I need to check this with the grocer’s press office). Champagne always tastes better in magnum, and in many cases, and it is certainly true with Clicquot, it’s a different longer aged blend to that in the 75cl bottle. If you want a really decent rosé champagne the Jacquart blend has been top rate of late and it’s an out an out bargain at £21 (if you have bought at least five other bottles).

Over at M&S in the new deals that started today (2 December) I’d particularly commend the Abel Charlot Brut the price of which has dropped to £16 a bottle. This was the wine that had my highest score in the recent taste off of 18 fizzes, it has some reserve wine and a bit of bottle age so it’s rich and mellow.  This is made for M&S by the Reims Co-operative that markets the De Castelnau brand and it’s a recognisable relative of this excellent champagne. I have also been impressed by the new to M&S the Charles Mignon champagnes, two of which are also now on deals.

At Tesco, if pink champagne is your thing, there are three mainstream rosés all on attractive deals from Lanson, Moët and Veuve Clicquot, but the last named is the wine that exudes class and finesse, thanks to all the work they have done there on the red wine component in the blend and it is priced at £32.99 until 16 December.

I’ll take a look at the new deals at Majestic and Waitrose that start tomorrow (3 December) shortly, but if you want to move away from the mainstream brands and look at growers’ champagnes, one of the best selections you will find is at Berry Bros & Rudd and I have just updated their entry on the Latest Champagne offers page with some suggestions based on wines I have recently hugely enjoyed.


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Sainsbury’s and Tesco slug it out in discount battle

Tesco has seriously raised the stakes in the supermarkets’ price war, cutting the price of its Louis Dalaunay exclusive label champagne to just £8 a bottle in an offer that starts today (26 November) and is due to run until 2 December. Sainsbury’s has immediately reacted bringing in another blanket 25% reduction across all wines and champagnes lasting until 8 December while some quite generous offers are already running. And it has added some key competitive offers that were not originally scheduled and once again mirror deals already running at rivals. Just as we predicted here last week the fierce competition between the grocers has driven prices ever lower. The price of market leading brand Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial falls to just £18.75 if you buy six bottles or more. See Latest Champagne Offers for all the details.

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2014-11-21 15.18.47 LD at tescoTesco is cutting the price of its Louis Dalaunay Brut champagne further still from tomorrow (26 November) when it will drop from the current £12.99 to just £8 a bottle. This champagne supplied by negociant Les Roches Blanches based in the village of Dizy was one of the seven highest scoring champagnes in our tasting of champagnes and sparkling wines under £20 which I did with Anthony Rose on The Independent last Friday. It was already the lowest priced champagne in the market at £9.74 (if you bought four bottles) but from tomorrow it will the lowest priced champagne sold in the UK for many months. And I am sipping a glass of it left over from our tasting as I write this good news for all those in hunt of a bargain.


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Our tasting of 16 champagnes (+ 2 sparklers) all priced under £20

I have had quite a few emails from readers recently asking me if this ‘cheap’ champagne sold by such and such a supermarket is actually any good and worth buying. Even one enquiry as to whether Tesco’s ‘exclusive label’ Louis Delaunay Brut would keep long enough for a wedding in June next year. This and many other similar questions led to the idea of setting up a blind tasting of a cross section of such supermarket wines, the champagnes that tend to have the most dramatic discounts at key times of the year, so it all seemed very timely.

Seven of the best fizzes in our tasting all priced under £20 in the run-up to Christmas

Seven of the best fizzes in our tasting all priced under £20 in the run-up to Christmas

I asked Anthony Rose of the Independent to drop by and help me assess them. I didn’t call in any samples of the supermarket ‘own label’ champagnes (bar one from Morrisons) but concentrated on the more obscure names, suppliers of which tend to change relatively frequently, so style and often quality can be inconsistent. All the wines included will be retailing at some point before the New Year at under £20 a bottle, some for considerably less. The Louis Delaunay mentioned above will only be priced at under £10 (if you buy four bottles) for another 24 hours (though I daresay the price will drop to near this level again in the next five weeks).

To make things a bit more interesting I included two sparkling wines in the line-up – one English, one Australian. As it happens both Chapel Down Vintage Réserve and Cloudy Bay Pelorus will be on promotion too soon, both being priced at £14.99-£15.99 a bottle. With the possible exception of Nicolas Feuillatte champagne, they were arguably the two strongest brands in the 18 strong line-up. Pelorus is of course owned by Veuve Clicquot, and they know a thing or two about branding there.

Ant with bottles coveredAnyway I digress. You’ll want to know the results of our tasting and which of these fizzes we reckon are worth shelling out for. We picked seven champagnes that scored 87 points or more, a level both the Chapel Down and the Pelorus also achieved. Following on from a very impressive Lidl tasting for journalists last week (of which there will be more in a few days) it was little surprise to see the Lidl  Comte de Senneval Grand Réserve (£17.99) do well. It was the only wholly Grand Cru sourced champagne.

It was a surprise when the wrappers from the blind tasting came off to see we marked the Tesco exclusive Louis Delaunay one point higher. If you want to try it you have only 24 hours to get it at just £9.74 a bottle (providing you buy four). The better known regular discount vehicles from Tesco and Sainsbury’s  – Andre Carpentier and Etienne Dumont respectively – were rather dull in comparison.  But things picked up again with Veuve Davanlay from Morrisons, which will be selling at better than half price — £12 as you ask – from the start of December. Though I wouldn’t want to spend £28.99 on this wine, we both preferred it to the Morrisons M Signature Brut that costs £18.99.

We then hit a good patch with the two sparklers; Nicolas Feuillatte Grande Réserve Brut (£15 at Sainsbury’s until the New Year), Laytons Brut Réserve from Jeroboams (down to £15.95 a bottle and you can also get halves and magnums) and finally a newcomer to M&S, Abel Chalot Brut which will be half price down from £32 to £16 from 2 December. This last named champagne I gave my highest score to, after enjoying a couple of glasses of it the next day watching England play appalling rugby. It quite cheered me up.

On Sunday a group of consumers came round to try the fizzes and we will report on what they thought shortly.

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Sainsbury’s raises the ante with more deals

Sainsbury’s has introduced a raft of 13 new offers on champagne today (19 November), some of which mirror, rather closely, deals already running at rivals Tesco and ASDA. Its new offer on Taittinger Brut Réserve for example runs until 25 November, exactly as Tesco’s does, and is better for a single bottle — £25 vs £29.99. Its price on GH Mumm Cordon Rouge is similarly slightly better than Tesco’s £26.49 a bottle. It also trumps the deals running on Nicolas Feuillatte Brut at Tesco and ASDA — where the single bottle price for that wine is £15.99 and £15 respectively — by offering Nicolas Feuillatte Grande Réserve for £20, a higher price but it is a much superior blend.
See Latest Champagne Offers for details.


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Tactical discounting drives some prices down

The fierce competition between the grocers is leading to some steep cuts in champagne prices and we are trying to keep abreast of all the latest deals. There are, however, often last minute changes from the promotions which the supermarkets send out in advance to journalists like me. These can happen for a number of reasons but obviously it’s partly about the big grocers always trying to outdo their competitors with a better deal to drive footfall in their stores. We try to keep all the prices accurate and up-to-date and have just amended some of the ASDA deals currently running.

The planned price reduction on Moët’s fine 2006 Vintage isn’t happening, nor is the cut to £30 on Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label. The latter may be because Morrisons have cut the price of Clicquot to exactly £30 and ASDA wants to do something different. Or could it be that Moët Hennessy, the biggest player in Champagne is putting pressure on the supermarkets to try and stop them trashing their brands – which include Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot — when demand for them is at its seasonal peak?

When Sainsbury’s ran its recent blanket 25% reduction on all wines and champagne (starting 29 October) concurrently with other planned price promotions, it was noticeable that the deals due to happen on Clicquot Yellow Label and half bottles of Moët Rosé didn’t run as planned.  Perhaps in the wake of the financial row at Tesco the power of the big grocers to slash prices against the wishes of the brand owners is diminishing?

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Prices drop below £10 for first time in discount frenzy

As predicted on these pages over the past couple of weeks, the price of basic champagne has fallen back to £10 and even just below. Under Tesco’s ongoing 25% off deal — if you buy four bottles or more — the price of its exclusive Louis Delaunay brand has fallen back to just £9.74 from today. And tomorrow (13 November) ASDA starts a new round of discounting that sees the price of a single bottle of Pierre Darcy champagne drop £14.50 to £10 a bottle. For details see Latest Champagne Offers page.



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