Our first ‘wine-off’ of 2022. First up, a battle of the bubbles, with a well-known and highly respected Champagne up against the newbie English Sparkling. 

First let me take you on a little journey – it’ll be quick I promise.  One aspect of being in the wine business that I love, is drinking wine. No surprise. Yet, due to Covid restrictions, I haven’t felt it appropriate to do face-to-face wine tastings. So, it was great to get back out doing wine tastings this week, and more importantly drink some great English wine with new people. Hearing their laughs and giggles, answering questions, sharing my passion – it was superb fun for me, and hopefully for the 6 lovely ladies too.

The ’wine-off’
To mix things up a little from a standard wine tasting, I decided to complete a ‘wine-off’. Taking a wine that everyone knows and can buy in their local supermarket and put it up against an equivalent and similar English wine.

Where better to start, than with bubbles, Champagne. And a classic number - Taittinger Brut Reserve NV - £38 from Morrisons. A great classic Champagne, and I actually went to Taittinger’s vineyard for my stag-do.

The English Challenger I chose, was Westwell Pelegrim. A superb NV example at £29.99 – cheaper if you buy a case - made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay with reserve wines from previous vintages to give further complexity and a consistent extra dry non-vintage style. It had previously beaten other Champagne classics such as Moet, Veuve Clicquot and Lanson during a previous blind tasting.

Could the challenger Westwell Pelegrim from Kent, beat the well-known and trusted Champagne from Taittinger?

Blind tasting

Bottles covered right up to the lip, no tasting notes given, same sample glasses used – let’s keep things fair. It came down to the vote – I was nervous and excited.

The oohs and arghs were not giving anything away, and in truth I had got wrapped up in the excitement and energy of the group, and forgotten what was in glass A and in glass B (I had to sneak a look at the covered bottles to remember).


Hooray! Westwell Pelegrim English Sparkling won – phew. The lovely ladies debated and chatted about their thoughts, and lengthened the wait before sharing the 4-2 votes result.

Excellent – Westwell’s bubbles battled and beat another Champagne classic.

A little surprising to me, was when I shared the £10 price difference to 2 votes for Taittinger did not move! I suppose you like what you like, and that is true of any wine

So, English Sparkling worked well for this group, and was loved by their palette. Taittinger is definitely a superb wine and a great Champagne example – one I really like. But the plaudits and honours go to Westwell Pelegrim, the winner for this round.

Now onto the next – perhaps a Sauvignon Blanc skirmish!

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