The UK’s cheapest Champagne

Earlier this year I wrote about Lidl’s Barolo, on sale at a promotional price of just £4.99 for one weekend. The article caused a huge storm on my discussion forum and social media, with 75% of people desperate to get hold of a bottle (reports of empty shelves reached me by mid-morning on day one) and the other 25% furious that a wine carrying such an exalted appellation should be sold at a fiver. Outrage was expressed at how it damaged the reputation of Barolo, expressions of disgust were uttered at how poor a wine it must be, and condemnation flowed towards me and Lidl – Lidl for daring to sell it at that price, and me for colluding with them in such a shameful exercise.

Me? Well I was neither paid nor blackmailed to write about, but unlike the 25% who condemned the wine, I did actually taste it. As you will see if you read that article, I gave an honest opinion of it, acknowledging that it was not great Barolo, but was “a well-made, quite serious dry red for the money.” Many people who did manage to grab a bottle contacted me to let me know that they considered it a fiver very well spent.

Yours at £7.99, for two days only

Senneval Champagne LidlNow Lidl is risking even more fire and fury (as well as a mad rush to their shelves) by offering the cheapest Champagne in Britain for two days only. The dates you need to know are Saturday and Sunday the 2nd and 3rd of September 2017, when the Comte de Senneval Brut will be sold for £7.99 per bottle.  That’s only £2 off its regular price, but takes it into unheard of pricing territory for Champagne in recent years.

Once again I have tasted the Champagne and, as long as you don’t expect Krug for your £7.99, you will not be disappointed. It is totally acceptable Champagne, which Decanter magazine rated 91/100 earlier this year. Whilst I can’t quite get on-board with that score, I found it to be a wine in much the same league as many £20 bottles I come across.

The wine is produced for Lidl by Maison Burtin, a group that produces many Champagne brands including Lanson, Philipponnat, Alfred Rothschild and Besserat de Bellefon.

I understand that some will raise fears over ‘brand Champagne’ and whether such a price damages it, and some will question what kind of deal was done to put this wine on the shelves at £8.00. But the world is full of wine that needs to find a home, and Lidl’s huge group buying power, low margins and the publicity value of a £7.99 Champagne means that no one is necessarily being screwed in the supply chain. It could just be a very nice bargain as Lidl hope to entice new customers in store.

Please do read my review, and ideally taste the Champagne for yourself, before rushing to stock up on it, or the most virulent green ink you can find. Happy hunting! :-).

The Wine

(2017) It's pretty much unbelievable that this review covers a Champagne priced - for two days only - at only £7.99 (2nd & 3rd September 2017). Though that's only a £2 reduction on its regular price, this is a wine that has gone down very well on Lidl's stand at my Festivals of Wine, a bona-fide Champagne from the Lanson and Besserat de Bellefon stable, it is a blend of the three main Champagne grapes, and has a fine, lemony nose, just a trace of biscuity development and creaminess, then a palate that shows plenty of sweetness. It is presumably close to maximum dosage for Brut, but there's no denying its easy-drinking pleasures, the oranges and lemons freshness of the finish being absolutely correct. My score cannot reach the dizzying heights of Decanter magazine's 91/100, but with quite smart packaging and more than acceptable quality, it is an astonishing value Champagne that will not disgrace your dinner table. Be quick on the 2nd as I suspect it will fly off the shelves for those planning parties or fish and chip Fridays.

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