Upsetting the Champagne Cart

I’ve always loved those stories that appear now and again about a no-name wine or a wine perceived to be mediocre beating better known and more appreciated wines in a taste-off. Of course the most famous of them all is the Paris tasting of 1976 when California’s Montelena Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Cask 23 beat out French First Growths in a taste-off.

You hear about these upset events these days in the context of wine competitions. Last year, I believe, Two Buck Chuck took a gold medal at some American wine competition. That did a lot to validate the palates of Trader Joe’s shoppers.

Well there is another fun one out of England in which a cheap, grocery store-procured and blended sparkler beat the cages off some well know Champagnes such as Mumm, Piper, Taittinger and the $75 Laurent-Perrier Grande Siecle Cuvee.

Three Hundred wine judges called Supermarket Tesco’s Premier Cru Champagne the best Non-Vintage Champagne out of more than 160 entered in the International Wine Challenge. Cost: About $30. The Tesco Brand Champagne beat out other well known Champagnes costing well over $100.

Why is reading about these wine upsets so satisfying? It must be something about our tendency to want to bring down the big boys.

Posted In: Wine News


3 Responses

  1. NoBullGrape - September 10, 2005

    A good catch Tom. We don’t have as much Champagne selection in the US as they do in the UK, but there certainly seem to be more good lower priced Champagnes available. Provides even more reasons to enjoy Champagne more often (e.g. outside the holiday/wedding/celebration occasions).

  2. Anonymous - September 10, 2005

    Absolutely, No Bull. I’m a huge fan of Champagne and sparkling wine in its dry, citrusy/yeasty format for just about any cuisine.
    It would make sense that British stores and chains would have good access to champagne grapes. It’s really just across the channel.

  3. Cork Tease - September 13, 2005

    The Champagne Surprise

    What do you know? A supermarket brand champagne beat the more expensive competition in an international wine challenge. Never judge a book by its cover…or its price!…

Leave a Reply