best own-label champagnes

These are the best own-label champagnes — tested, reviewed and ranked

From Harrods to Harvey Nichols, we’ve uncorked the best own-brand bottles to find the fizziest, bubbliest and most sparkling wine that won’t break the bank

“Remember gentlemen!” Winston Churchill once bellowed during a rousing wartime speech, “It’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s champagne!”

Quite right. And, if we were ever to march into battle over a bottle, we’d want it to be a bottle of this suitably sophisticated, thoroughly French export. Bubbling with cosmopolitan character, champagne is the lifeblood of decadent parties and celebrations; fizzed-up fuel for bad decisions and sparkling conversation alike. We pop, we spray and we sip — marking milestones and special occasions with the happy clink of well-filled flutes.

But not all champagnes are bottled equal. And, while the big houses may monopolise wine lists, it occasionally pays to look past the Pommery, avoid the Veuve or give the Moet a miss. From Harrods to Harvey Nichols, some of the best sparkling wines are own-label offerings. Here, we’ve tested the best bottles to uncork this Christmas. And Churchill would be damn proud — because they’re well worth fighting for.

9. Harvey Nichols Champagne Brut

Harvey Nichols Champagne Brut

Grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
Price: £29.50
Score: 5.5/10

We had our worries when we saw the bottle. There’s something a little bit basic about those birds — and even all the flapping and fluttering in the world couldn’t distract us from the bizarre taste of Harvey Nichols own-brand champagne. A frankly baffling bottling, it’s almost salty; a seaweed-tinged tipple with a sharp, bitter finish. Considering the department store’s usual stringent standards, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth — literally.

8. Justerini & Brooks 250th Anniversary Cuvée

Justerini & Brooks 250th Anniversary Cuvée

Grape varieties: Pinot Noir
Price: £185 for a case of 12 bottles
Score: 5.6/10

There’s something expensive looking about J&B’s own-label offering. But, while the label is richly embellished with gold, and the creamy wine even smells like stacks of money, the fizz itself doesn’t quite hit the mark. Once you’ve sipped, and you swirl it around your mouth, there’s an oddly overpowering taste that sits on your tongue. Is it marzipan? Is it potpourri? We couldn’t put our finger on the lingering tang. Oh, and there are far too many bubbles.

7. Waitrose 2007 Vintage Brut

Waitrose 2007 Vintage Brut

Grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Price: £25.99
Score: 5.7/10

Make no mistake, this is an admirable attempt for a supermarket. In a list that includes luxury department stores and wine merchants, Waitrose has performed well. Even so, there’s something a little flat about these bubbles. It’s sweet, it’s rich, it tastes like Christmas morning in a glass. But it’s also just a little bit normal. Drinking champagne should feel like an occasion and, while this honeyed, biscuity wine makes for a passable pour, it just doesn’t feel special.

6. Selfridges & Co. Esprit Brut Champagne

Selfridges & Co. Esprit Brut Champagne

Grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Price: £29.99
Score: 6/10

We didn’t know whether to pour Selfridge’s champagne into our flutes, or splash it onto our necks. So perfumed was is, that Gentleman’s Journal collectively listed everything from lemons and dark fruits to nuttiness and asparagus in our nosing notes. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. At least it provoked some conversation. And, although the initial sips left us scratching our heads, the department store’s own-brand Brut had one of the cleanest finishes in the field.

5. The Society's Champagne Brut Non Vintage

The Society's Champagne Brut Non Vintage

Grape varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
Price: £34
Score: 6.8/10

This is a good champagne. It’s not a glowing review, but the combination of barrel-ageing and bone dry character bubble together to create a modestly engaging bottling. The Wine Society can be relied upon to deliver, and they’ve done just that with this complex wine; there are hints of leather, orange and oak on the nose, with autumnal nutmeg notes on the palate that suffer from a slightly acidic finish. It won’t change your world, but neither should you turn your nose up.

4. Davy’s Celebration Champagne

Davy’s Celebration Champagne

Grape varieties: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Price: £23.70
Score: 7/10

Further down this list, we chastised poor Waitrose for making a boring, bland champagne. Davy’s should be having that same criticism levelled against them; this is a fresh, fragrant and neutral wine that does a job — and not much else. But the simple branding pre-warns you of its fizzy functionality and, as a result, you’re not expecting these bubbles to do anything more than look good tumbling down a tower of coupes. Fortunately, it surprises even so — with a charming complexity that lands it in fourth place.

3. Berry Bros & Rudd Grand Cru Brut

Berry Bros & Rudd Grand Cru Brut

Grape varieties: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Price: £29.95
Score: 7.1/10

As we approach the pinnacle of the podium, Berry Bros & Rudd takes the bronze medal for its own-label offering. With a rich, fresh and relatively un-fruity nose, this sweet fizz honeys the tongue and leaves a long, malty and nicely biscuity taste in the mouth long after you’ve finished your flute. Ever dependable, the British brand’s champagne may not take the crown — and scale the heady heights of its claret — but it comes sparklingly close.

2. Harrods Vintage 2008 Grand Cru

Harrods Vintage 2008 Grand Cru

Grape varieties: Chardonnay
Price: £48
Score: 8/10

By far the most expensive fizz on this list, you’d hope Harrods’ wallet-draining bottle would be worth the cold hard cash. Thankfully, coming in second place in our tasting, we’d warrant that it is. There’s a warming, comforting woodiness to these bubbles, fitting for such an enduring institution. After a rich creamy nose, you’ll enjoy notes of vanilla and cereal grains — commendable complexity for an own-label bottling. What’s more, the unobtrusive finish will keep you feeling fresh all evening. A good bet.

1. Fortnum & Mason Brut Réserve Champagne

Fortnum & Mason Brut Réserve Champagne

Grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay
Price: £39.50
Score: 8.3/10

It figures that the leading food and drink department store should have the leading own-label champagne, but we were still swept off our feet by Fortnum & Mason’s offering — and that isn’t just because we’d seen off multiple glasses of bubbly. With a complex musty, biscuity nose, this Brut Reserve opens into a sweet, buttery palate reminiscent of apple pie, before closing hard with a fresh, clean and balanced finish. A real treat.

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