(2021) Until very recently all English sparkling wines were made by the expensive and time-consuming 'traditional method'. That's the method used in Champagne, where the second fermentation is in individual bottles, which are then cellared for 18 months or more before release. Now the charmat, or 'tank' method, is used too, with second fermentation in large steel tanks rather than bottles. It's a much quicker and arguably easier way to make a sparkling wine and the method by which Prosecco is made.
Boco is a charmat wine, composed of 42% Reichenstiener with equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It is frothy and offers aromas of sherbet, lemons and icing sugar. On the palate it is light and very straightforward, a touch of peach and pear fruitiness, and good zesty acidity. It's not a complex wine by any means and is indeed comparable to a good Prosecco. For me that also suggests its price of £26 is rather problematic.
(2021) Twenty-eight different wines in this blend, all Pinot Noir from across the vineyard parcels, with 10g/l of residual sugar. Like all of these wines, the base wines do not go through malolactic fermentation, which Corinne believes will change the flavour and thus not be the purest expression of their vineyard. Really attractive nose, with an almond touch of creaminess but great freshness too. The sweetness on the palate is as much about fruit as the dosage, but it has a lively thrust of lemony directness married to a beautifully easy-drinking appeal. Only 8% of current vintage in this - 92% of reserves.
(2021) An estate that started in the 1990s, one of the very earliest producers, but burst into the limelight by winning a sparkling wine award from Decanter in 2010 when ranged blind agains the world's best traditional method wines. A really pleasing bottle this, blending Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, bright on the nose with citrus-flecked floral aromatics, but underpinned by a nice autolysis, nutty and lightly toasty, before the sweet-fruited palate which is balanced and approachable, some confit lemon intensity and pithy acid structure into the reasonably long finish.
(2021) The very first vintage from this small grower-producer, a boutique operation with vineyards planted in 2015 and working to be sustainable and herbicide-free, the wine currently made at Ridgeview. The blend is 60% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot noir, 20% Pinot Meunier, with a dosage of 6.8g/l. Very foamy mousse and a fairly deep golden tinge to the colour. In a way, a particularly Champagne-like nose, slightly lactic, oxidative, and initially for me not absolutely convincing. A little butter and toast, and nuttiness. In the mouth a great initial impression of sweetness despite the modest dosage, good rosy apple fruit comes through, much nicer on the palate for me, a zippy lime acid line adds a bit of sherbetty spark and the balance is good in the finish.
(2021) Marching to a different beat, this is a wild-fermented and biodynamic wine, and is also 100% Chardonnay. Founded in 2008 by a successful IT businessman with an interest in organics and sustainability. This comes from a very small, five-hectare estate and spends 48 months on the lees and is also made with a Pied de Cuve, the winemaking equivalent of a sourdough starter. Fascinating, creamy and custardy character on the nose, interesting high-toned herbal notes with a deliciously sweet attack to the fruit on the palate, a real lick of salinity and juiciness, making this mouth-watering and gastronomic, mouth-filling but with lovely balance and precision towards the finish.
(2021) One of the newer entrants into the market, a family producer with 10 hectares planted on their family estate in 2010 and first vintage 2014. Planning permission has just been granted to build a winery, but for now the wines are made at Hattingly Valley. Soils are chalk and flint, on south-facing gravelly clay. In crop rotation for 150 years, so soil in top condition. It's a lovely blend of 65% Chardonnay with the two Pinots, quite powerful aromatically, yeasty and biscuity, with a preserved lemon intensity. Mouthfilling mousse, rich again, but fine souring acidity of pink grapefruit and lemon, the peachiness of the mid-palate swept along into the finish.
(2021) Charles and Ruth Simpson of Domaine de Saint Rose in the South of France planted this vineyard, the first harvest of which was in 2016, and also producing a range of still wines. 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, it has a relatively deep colour and nutty, Cox's pippin, earthy and lightly-oxidative quality. On the palate there's a nice sour orange and cooked apple depth to the flavour, a lick of salinity to the acid structure, and the dosage adds some balancing sweetness into the finish.
(2021) This Pinot Noir-led blend (57%) has roughly equal parts Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier too, and saw a full 36 months of bottle ageing before disgorgement on 29th January 2020. Light gold, with plenty of effervescence and small bubbles, aromas marry toast, biscuit and a touch of meatiness with vivid lemony fruit. On the palate there's a bracing, sea-spray lick of salty acidity, and though the fruit stays in the citrus spectrum, there's ripeness and creamy texture to keep this enjoyably drinkable.
(2021) The blend here is 62% Chardonnay, 29% Pinot Noir and 9% Pinot Meunier, the base vintage 2017. This cuvee contains 10% reserve wines and has only 2g/l dosage and was disgorged in December 2020. It's a fabulously incisive, dry and mouth-wateringly saline English sparkling wine, utterly energising though with a depth and richness of baked apple and hazelnut, then the palate bursting through with thrusting, ripe and fat lemon fruit and that salty, seaside freshness and gastronomic, tingling length powering through. I really enjoyed this wine.
(2021) There is 6% of reserve wines in this blend of 66% Pinot Noir, 24% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay, on a base of the 2017 vintage. Partial barrel fermentation was followed by 18 months on the lees, a dosage of 2.5g/l and a further six months ageing post-disgorgement. Despite the energising blast of the salts and citrus here with its low dosage, there is a generosity and golden glow to the wine, ripeness and some toast and creamy almond, full texture and excellent length. A more open and slightly less rigorous wine than the Corallian, but still absolutely pin-sharp and decisive.