Our local branch of Oddbins has always struck me as a dusty, uninspiring sort of place, but I was lured in at the end of last week by their Champagne sale. Unlike the crazy ‘slash and burn’ Champagne sales in the supermarkets just before Christmas last year, there was around 25% off most of the Oddbins sparkling wine range. This included a few big names – Pol Roger, Hiedseck Monopole, Moet etc – but also a couple of smaller brands, so I took the opportunity to try something a bit different, with mixed results.

De Carnot Carte Noir NV Brut
A Blanc de Noirs Champagne from grapes grown in Verzy, one of the Grand Cru villages in the Montagne de Reims region – the heartland of Pinot Noir production. A very lively wine initially, although the effervescence quickly dimmed. Pale golden colour with a fairly light nose – floral notes and lime, with a hint of toast. Surprisingly little fruit on the palate for a BdN, and barely a hint of toast, although I picked up some red fruit, particularly redcurrants. However, the wine had a quite overwhelming and unpleasant acidity and a distinct lack of length. (7/20 sadly)

De Carnot Carte Noire NV Brut

H Blin NV Brut
Champagne from a co-operative of producers in the Marne Valley. I chose this out of curiosity really as it’s a blend of Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Pinot Meunier is often regarded as the lesser cousin of the three Champagne grapes, and it’s fairly unusual to see it predominate in a blend. Pale lemon colour with a good mousse, and a persistent stream of fine bubbles. Lovely, fresh nose with hints of apple juice and elderflower. Very dry on the palate with flavours again of apple, with citrus and a touch of toast – quite a complex wine. Reasonable finish. (11.5/20)

H Blin & Co NV Brut

These wines are available from Oddbins, or alternatively can be sourced via www.wine-searcher.com