(2022) This is the second vintage of this cuvée from Surrey's Greyfriars Vineyard, the initial 2015 bottling having won a Wine GB Trophy. Only 3,400 bottles of this wine will be released in May 2022. The 2016 spent an additional six months under cork having been disgorged in August 2021, and is again a blend from the best plots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, fermented and aged for around 48 months in older oak barrels, with a dosage of 7.5g/l. There is a mealiness and slightly meaty, toasty element to the nose which is otherwise crisp and focused on lemons and custard apples. In the mouth the mousse is fresh and lively, and there's a great citrus drive to this wine, a fat lemony concentration, the acidity taut and that moderate dosage emphasising a pithy, apple core dryiness to the finish. It drinks very well, the barrel-ageing fof the base wine just giving a little breadth, but I think this would also be worth cellaring for a year or two as it will loosen up a little more. A limited number of magnums will be released too I believe.
(2022) This is a traditional method sparkling wine in a brisk and lemony style. Based around Chardonnay, there is a lovely biscuity, almost hazelnut richness playing subtley in the aroma, the nutrients set against apple and citrus. The palate has some creamy richness too, before that zesty, cool and lemony acidity of the finish. Quite a lean style, but for me that works in this wine. £29.70 as part of a mixed dozen.
(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) 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.
(2021) I came over all Arthurian drinking this, "Made in the Realm of Albion," as it says on the label. Domaine of the Bee teamed up with Ridgeview in Sussex, who made this wine for them, from fruit selected by Justin Howard-Sneyd: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Very fine on the nose, with a suggestion of ripe fruit, but plenty of creamy, bready, autolytic character, Cox's pippin apples and zestiness. In the mouth that nutty, nicely developed apple fruitiness again, a bit of breadth and fruit sweetness to this, before the balanced finish where the acidity runs like rapier cut, but always softened by the fruit and creamy lees ageing into the finish. Club members can buy at £28.00
(2020) Only the second vintage of this 'Small batch' wine from Hampshire, made by Jacob Leadley, ex winemaker at Hattingly Valley from the Champagne grape triumverate of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This is a serious contender for joining the top echelons of English sparkling wine. Opening with a vivacious citrus blast of keen, clean fruit, there are plenty of autolytic notes of biscuit and freshly picked mushrooms, a refined and lightly earthy - and very Champagne-like - character. In the mouth there is fantastic fruit sweetness and generosity, with 8g/l of residual sugar and 20 months on the lees, but it is dry, the lemony, zesty clarity of the finish flashing through a sweet and ripe mid-palate with terrific style, the finish long and fine. A hugely enjoyable first taste of this producer for me. Available from 9th October 2020.
(2020) Champagne house Pommery were early investors in English vineyards, with their own 40-hectare site about to come on stream. For now, they are buying English fruit from Hampshire and making this wine in facilities borrowed from Hattingley Valley estate. It's a traditional method wine, made from the Champagne grapes, and it is beautifully pitched: there is a hint of biscuit and truffle on the nose, but much more about citrus and English orchard fruit. The palate shows lovely fruit sweetness, and the dosage adding an extra element of approachability, but the acid balance on persitence of the mousse if excellent. Not cheap, but a nice way to celebrate English Wine Week, which starts today. Watch the video for more information.