(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) 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) 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) I came over all Arthurian drinking this, "Made in the Realm of Albion," as it says on the label. Domaine of the Bee have teamed up with Ridgeview in Sussex to make this wine for them, for fruit Bee owner Justin Howard-Sneyd selected, 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.
(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 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.