(2019) The flagship of the entire English wine industry, Nyetimber's Classic Cuvée is a blend of the three main Champagne varieties with 25-35% reserve wines in the blend. All Nyetimber bottles bear a code that you can punch into the Nyetimber web site for detailed information: this bottle for example, disgorged in July 2019 after a full four years in the cellars, is based on the 2014 harvest (70%) but with 4% 2013, 6% 2011, 9% 2010, 10% 2009 and 1% 2008 reserve wines. 10g/l of dosage gives an easy approachability. Biscuit, nutty almond and sweet apple aromas move on to a wonderfully zesty palate, with an infill of pastry and vanilla, but a shimmering brightness to the finish. A bargain at £27 on offer in Waitrose until 2nd January 2020, and some indies also have it for less than £30.
(2019) The sparkling wine in this inaugural Winemakers' Collection is 100% Chardonnay from the 2012 and 2013 vintages, that spent 12 months in Burgundy barrels before a further five years in bottle on the lees. It has zero dosage and the colour already appears quite deep through the clear glass bottle, tinged with gold. Bubbles are small, and the initial aroma is of bruised apple and pear, a touch of pastry, and a custardy touch. In the mouth the mousse if fine and racy, and the wine streaks across the palate with a surge of lemony fruit. There's a fascinating lick of saltiness to the acid profile, but it perhaps lacks a bit of palate depth given the barrel treatment and long time on the lees, finishing taut and fruit driven. At the price I would have hoped for a little more complexity, and wonder if just a few grams of dosage would have given that?
(2019) This wine was bottle in May 2011 and spent 90 months - seven and a half years - on the lees. It is composed of 68% Chardonnay, 22% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. It received a dosage of 9g/l. Savoury, reserved nose, nothing too toasty of developed aromatically, just a sheen of creaminess on the lightly nutty, firm stone fruit aromas. On the palate the dosage gives a hint of sweetness, but that's swept up in a rush of acidity, lemony and zippy, the extra time on the lees perhaps adding a rounded touch of light toast and cream again into an elegant finish with good length.
(2019) The blend is 53% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 7% Pinot Meunier, with a small percentage fermented in oak barrels, and a dosage of 8g/l. Having spent 34 months on the lees there is a biscuity character aromatically, but really this is driven by the Pinot fruit, bold and lemony, though the bruised fruit complexity is there. On the palate the ripeness of the fruit from this vintage is evident, quite fat lemony fruit with a hint of peach, very good acids adding structure, and a nice earthy/yeasty savoury note too. A rounded, mouthfilling style and very good.
(2019) From the clay and sandy loam soils of Appledore in Kent, this all-Chardonnay cuvée comes from a very good year, the harvest completed by 7th October. A small percentage of the blend was fermented in older oak barrels, and after bottling in April 2015, the wine spent a full 42 months on the lees prior to disgorgement.
The colour is an attractive pale gold, with a foamy mousse and plenty of very small bubbles rising steadily in the glass (Riedel Veritas Champagne glass). The aromas are delicate. There is a touch of buttery pastry, a fine biscuity and oatmeal sheen, and fruit that has a touch of rich figgy quality, but is mostly about fresh citrus and summer pears. In the mouth, despite a modest dosage of 7g/l, there is an abundant sense of sweetness from the ripe fruit. It's a lovely style this, not at all austere, yet precise and super-fresh, the time on lees and perhaps that barrel component just rounding out the finish which tapers to a fine point.
(2019) Surrey's chalk slopes are home to Greyfriars Vineyard, planted in 1989 and expanded since to 40 hectares, with a focus on sparkling wines made by the traditional method, from the three main grapes of Champagne. They have just released this limited edition non vintage Blanc de Noirs, the second wine in their Prestige Cuvée range to join the 'Cuvée Royale', released in 2018. Only 3,800 bottles were produced, blending 60% Pinot Noir from 2015, with 40% Pinot Meunier from 2014 - a year that was outstanding for the highly variable Meunier at Greyfriars. The wine spent three years on the lees, and was bottled with a very low 2g/litre of residual sugar. It has a beautiful and rich nose, enough of a herbaceous twang to speak of its cool climate credentials, lovely honeysuckle and autolytic creaminess, hints of brioche and biscuit. The palate has a dense pillow of mousse, followed by a surge of lemon zest freshness, very direct, fruity without being obvious, that low dosage allowing the crunch of the orchard fruit and fine zesty lemon to power through its long, elegant finish. Free delivery on three or more bottles from the Greyfriars website.
(2018) What a beautiful all-Chardonnay wine this is from Greyfriars in Surrey, a little extra time in bottle post-disgorgement now showing lovely creaminess and yet full fruit, pear and apple, yes, but almost a soft summer berry character, the rich mousse leading to a taut, defined finish. The 2014 is the wine in stock with several other retailers at time of review.
(2018) The Chardonnay was very special in this year, and this 100% Chardonnay cuvée is utterly convincing proof that the best English sparkling wines can stand confidently in line with the best. It has a lovely golden hue, with toffee and nutty notes over bruised pear and apple fruit and some leafy, herbal tones giving real complexity and richness. The palate pushes through with immense precision, the cool, zesty and pithy lemon rind quality and seashell mineral richness gives this lovely balance and focused length. That minerality is so pronounced from these chalky soils of the South Downs.
(2018) Made by the winemaking students of England's Centre of Excellence for wine education, supervised by expert winemakers, this sparkling blend of 43% Pinot Meunier, 38% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Noir was disgorged on 8th May 2018 after three years ageing on the lees, with little over 2,000 bottles produced. It is an absolute charmer, a touch of luscious gold to the colour and a rich butter pastry nose, loads of biscuit and ripe, juicy orchard fruits. The palate has a soft cushion of mousse and there is an open, welcoming breadth to the sweet fruit core, but then the finish sharpens up nicely with dazzling lemony acidity. Really very good indeed. Price is per bottle, available in cases of six from the college, but use the wine-searcher link to find other stockists.
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