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(2022) A recent survey carried out by Kent's Gusbourne estate suggested 60% of people intended to drink English sparkling wine over the festive season. Presumably some of them will be be sipping this all-Chardonnay cuvée, which comes from one of England's leading producers in my opinion. A selection of the best grapes, it's a wine that Gusbourne say has the qualities for extending ageing. A small percentage was fermented in oak, it spent 33 months on the lees and was bottled with just over 11g/l of residual sugar. The nose is expressively Chardonnay, with cool, but creamy buttery brioche aromas, a hint of nuttiness and plenty of fresh English orchard fruit. The mousse is cushioning and rich, the wine has a mouth-filling creaminess with hints of toasty barrel in the background, but a rush of ripe apples and lemon, a tang of saltiness and very good balance and length.
(2020) Gusbourne is a trailblazer of the English wine scene, and seemingly endlessly inventive, with a clutch of one-off and new releases each year, both still and sparkling. The newest edition to the sparkling line-up, this is Pinot Noir from the 2016 vintage, sourced from Gusbourne's vineyards in Kent and West Sussex, and with 50% of the fruit 'dropped' - removed from the vine - during the growing season in order to strengthen and intensify the fruit that remained. A small percentage of the blend was fermented in oak barrels and the wine is Brut, with 7.5g/l residual sugar. Pale gold to straw in colour with plenty of miniscule bubbles, aromas are fresh and appetising, some hazelnut and almond, creamy and ripe orchard fruits, a hint of hawthorn. On the palate there's a juicy generosity to the fruit which is ripe, sweet and mouth-filling, verging on the peachy, but then the fine core of dazzling lemony acidity pushes through, a chalky element too, driving into a long finish. A superb English sparkling wine.
(2018) From the 'heart' of the blend, this is both a vineyard selection and a juice selection, made from the best Chardonnay blocks and only the first 'cut' of the finest juice from the pressing. Fermented in oak barrels with wild yeasts, it has a moderately low dosage of 6g/l. It's such a different beast from the regular Blanc de Blancs, leesy, earthy and 'dirtier' on the nose, which is part of the wild and barrel-ferment character, and makes up in complexity for what it lacks in the BdB's pristine clarity. The palate has that chewy complexity too, mouth-filling and serious, the choice here is not only about price, it's very much about style.
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