Budget Champagne Uncovered: December 2023

Budget Champagne Uncovered: December 2023

Barry Weinman: 27th December 2023

Those who know me well know that I have a particularly fond spot for sparkling wines and Champagnes in particular. And over the festive season, my consumption (or at least the amount I open) increases further.

The only problem is that this is not a cheap hobby. A good bottle of Australian sparkling wine can easily set you back $50+ and well recognised champagne typically sells for north of $70. I have also noticed that prices of Champagne have been increasing of late.

So I set myself the challenge of finding a great value Champagne that I would be happy to drink for under $50 and headed out to the big box retailers to see what I could find.

Much to my (and the panel’s) surprise, there were several wines that were actually a good drink. We were also surprised to see a number of these cheaper wines sporting the Premier Cru ranking, suggesting that some effort was made on the part of the producers (often cooperatives) to focus on quality.

The wine that stood out for me in terms of quality and value was the Veuve Monsigny Premier Cru Brut from Aldi. Whilst this is all about zesty freshness and vitality, there is enough autolytic characters to make for an excellent everyday Champagne. And at $40 (for a limited time) this is the bee’s knees.

First Choice and Vintage Cellars have the enjoyable Baron De Villeboerg Brut NV for $37, which seems more than fair for a quaffable Champagne that is fresh, levely and refreshing. Not a lot of complexity, but an enjoyable drink at the price.

My local VC had two batches of this. An older one with a cream label and the current batch with the Red label. As compared to the fresh bottle, the older one had more depth and impact, with autolytic characters building. My preference (and the review) is the fresh shipment.

The Veuve Rozier Brut NV was the least expensive wine reviewed at $33 from Dan Murphy. This was defined by attractive fresh fruit characters, with peach and gentle citrus notes. With decent length and gentle autolytics, this was considered a good all-rounder, as it was fresh enough to have on its own, but with enough weight to carry some lighter foods.

The good news is that none of the other wines reviewed were outright bad, it was just that the ones reviewed were better. This could be a reflection of the age of stock sitting in stores, with some wines appearing obviously more developed than others.