ALISTAIR GIBSON: Still time for a last-minute trolley dash

A real alternative to Champagne
A real alternative to Champagne
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It’s Christmas Eve and just in case you’ve not organised wine for the big day, here are a few bottles for that last-minute trolley dash around the aisles.

English sparkling wine has been without doubt the wine story of the past year or so, and with sterling on a downward spiral, it can only become better value in comparison to other sparklers in the near future.

Peach and lemon sherbet

Peach and lemon sherbet

Balfour 1503 Foxwood NV (The Co-operative £16.99) is from the Hush Heath Estate in Kent which has been making wine since 2010.

This is a blend of the three classic Champagne grape varieties, undergoing its secondary fermentation in the bottle.

This is a real alternative to Champagne. The bubbles are fine and constant, with that telltale English fizz characteristic of green apples as well as some citrus and yeasty notes.

Well-structured, this is very fine and seriously good value.

Easy and smooth

Easy and smooth

Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Chardonnay 2015, Margaret River (Majestic £15.99 or £11.99 if bought as one of six bottles) is from one of my favourite Australian producers.

It has appeared in this column before and for good reason; it would kick most white Burgundy into touch at this price.

Aged in a mixture of new and older oak for nine months, there is a touch of citrus, pineapple, ginger and vanilla on the nose before a beautifully-structured palate and a lingering, savoury finish.

It has enough presence to probably work with the turkey for those who want to stick with white wine.

Returning to some classics, Chateauneuf Du Pape 2014 (The Co-operative £10.99 down from £15.99 until January 3) is made by the Perrin family, one of the most famous producers in the Rhone Valley.

This is terrific value while on offer.

It’s the sort of wine you open after a long walk on Boxing Day to bring big smiles to everybody’s face as you tuck into the Christmas Day leftovers.

Dark fruits, spice and a warm earthiness make for a big, food-friendly wine.

Still in France, we go to Waitrose Saint-Émilion 2014 (Waitrose £9.99 down from £13.49 until January 3).

This is made mainly from merlot with a little cabernet franc.

It’s not the most complex red Bordeaux you will ever drink, but at this price it certainly does the job.

It is an easy, smooth red wine with notes of blueberries and a little smokiness that is not going to battle the rest of the flavours on the Christmas lunch plate.

Lastly, something sweet, and you always need something sweet to round off the meal don’t you?

Taste the Difference Royal Tokaji 2015 (Sainsbury’s £12 – half-bottle) is a lovely example of one of the most famous dessert wines in the world.

Here we have some peach and lemon sherbet with some well-balanced acidity to finish.

Perhaps try this with pâté as something a little different, or some blue cheese instead of port at the end of the meal.