(2018) Crémant wines are undergoing something of a mini-boom, finding many new fans for these traditional method sparkling wines from French regions outside of Champagne. This, from Chablis producer Simonnet-Febvre, is a blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir, aged 24 months on the lees in bottle. It is a crisp and zippy style, but a creaminess and touch of biscuit adds to the pear and lemon fruit of the nose. In the mouth it is razor-sharp as befits a wine from vineyards surrounding Chablis, but there is a juiciness and peachy generosity to the mid-palate fruit before that long, shimmering core of acidity extends the finish. Watch the video for more information and food-matching ideas.
(2018) From Champagne's oldest house, founded in 1584, the blend is 45% each of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the balance Pinot Meunier, and this bottle is blend of three recent vintages given four years ageing in the Gosset cellars. Despite that softening time on the lees, this is a Champagne with drive and purpose, the nose nuanced with pastry and almond over citrus and stone fruits, but the palate quite steely and very focused, the vibrant but not lean focus of citrus driving through against the creaminess of the mousse in very food-friendly style. The price quoted at time of writing is the cheapest I can find (on offer), but it is quite widely available at under £50.
(2017) Vidal sources its Sauvignon Blanc fruit from Marlborough, from both estate-owned and contracted vineyards, primarily in the Wairau Valley "with a little Awatere fruit to give a little more tropical spectrum," says Hugh. Delicious nose, with lots of punchy passion fruit and tropical, lychee notes, plenty of peachy ripeness, and then the palate shimmers with acidity and so much intensity of flavour.
(2017) Though Pinot Gris is a grape that can ripen to quite a dark red, and thus could make a rosé on its own, here Saint Clair have blended in some Malbec. The colour is quite a pale salmon pink, and it's very much a dry red berry nose - raspberry, redcurrant, even strawberry - before a palate that has a good core of lemony, zest acidity and quite a full texture, adding up to a pleasing and versatile rosé. On sale at £9.30 from The Drink Shop at time of review.
(2017) The family has been making wine in the Clare for 30 years. There's a firm green character to this single vineyard wine, with a suggestion of phenolic melon skins and lime rind, the palate delivering a shock of dry grapefruit pith acidity, a slightly fatter lime character coming through, but that chalky dry acidity punches through. Should mature nicely.
(2016) A fine, traditional method and award-winning sparkling Pinot from Miguel Torres' Chilean operation, this has a creamy mousse and crisp apple aromas and flavours, a light touch of floral character adding extra interest, the finish dry but easy and approachable, in a very stylish wine.
(2016) A steely style of 1er Cru Chablis but with a sense of weight and concentration, there's pure lime and salt on the nose, and an intense palate, the concentration of salty and citrus flavours giving it real authority and intensity, the finish dry and showing a little lemon peel and pith.
(2016) A lot of mint here, that Sebastian thinks is partly due to their huge diurnal shift that means overnight the plants cannot assimilate the heat and ripening of the day, so ripening is slightly delayed and can produce the cedar/minty notes. All French oak, this is made approximately 3 or 4 times per decade. Along with the mint is cool, smooth cassis and onto the palate cedar and a gentle creaminess. There's a meatiness too, and the tannins are smoothed with a creamy density and great balance, the wine is young and needs a little time.
(2015) This blend of the native Arinto, Antão Vaz, Roupeiro and 10% Semillon is a fabulous wine for the money, and one I have followed for years. Retailers are stocking both 2013 and 2014 at present, and really either could have made this slot. It's a wine in a broadly Burgundian mould, barrel fermented with a lovely creamy almond and oatmeal character, the 2014 youthful and better in a year, the 2013 perfectly on song with wax and honey notes to the ripe apple and peach, the racy palate carrying through the lemon and gentle butter and wax, finishing clean and fresh.
(2015) Much lighter oak quality here, much more melon skins and a bit of grippy skin contact perhaps? The palate has quite a full texture, a really lovely juiciness and much more concentration that the previous wine. A really bold and flavourful wine with excellent balance and persistence. Quite a natural wine feel to this and lovely clarity. Very good, very possibly Elgin. Tasted blind.