(2019) Gusbourne Blanc de BlancsFrom 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.

Another very classy English sparkling wine.

(2019) Greyfriars NoirsSurrey'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.
(2018) Made by the traditional method, this is a dry and very grown-up take on elderflower wine, with 7g/l of residual sugar and 12% alcohol by volume. Pale and moderately effervescent, aromas are floral and herbal, not the pungent 'cat's pee' elderflower used to describe many a Sauvignon Blanc. In the mouth it has a fine mousse and it is dry, a keenly honed acidity driving, the flavour difficult to describe: herbal, a touch of endive bitterness, with a lemon peel zestiness too. A successful wine, perhaps more akin to a Loire Crémant than a Champagne, for want of a better way of describing the flavours.
(2018) What a beautiful all-Chardonnay wine this is from Greyfriars in Surrey, a little extra time in bottle post-disgorgement now showing lovely creaminess and yet full fruit, pear and apple, yes, but almost a soft summer berry character, the rich mousse leading to a taut, defined finish. The 2014 is the wine in stock with several other retailers at time of review.
(2018) What a lovely wine from the estate of the legendary Steven Spurrier and his wife in Dorset. 80% Pinot Noir with 20% Chardonnay, it’s a deeply coloured pink fizz that overflows with creamy strawberry aromas, a nice touch of something gravelly and more serious in the background, but all about open and invitingly deep red fruits really. In the mouth a lovely rolling mousse, and that full fruit expression of summer berries and peaches is briskly moved along with finely-etched acidity and more of that minerals and gravel-stone firmness. Delightful. On offer at £27.95 at time of review.
(2018) The Chardonnay was very special in this year, and this 100% Chardonnay cuvée is utterly convincing proof that the best English sparkling wines can stand confidently in line with the best. It has a lovely golden hue, with toffee and nutty notes over bruised pear and apple fruit and some leafy, herbal tones giving real complexity and richness. The palate pushes through with immense precision, the cool, zesty and pithy lemon rind quality and seashell mineral richness gives this lovely balance and focused length. That minerality is so pronounced from these chalky soils of the South Downs.
(2018) Made by the winemaking students of England's Centre of Excellence for wine education, supervised by expert winemakers, this sparkling blend of 43% Pinot Meunier, 38% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Noir was disgorged on 8th May 2018 after three years ageing on the lees, with little over 2,000 bottles produced. It is an absolute charmer, a touch of luscious gold to the colour and a rich butter pastry nose, loads of biscuit and ripe, juicy orchard fruits. The palate has a soft cushion of mousse and there is an open, welcoming breadth to the sweet fruit core, but then the finish sharpens up nicely with dazzling lemony acidity. Really very good indeed. Price is per bottle, available in cases of six from the college, but use the wine-searcher link to find other stockists.
(2018) I rather liked this blend of elderflower with blackberries, rhubarb, and strawberries, with second fermentation in bottle a la Champagne.The pale colour and small bubbles are attractive, and the nose is not too sweet and not too elderflowery, the dry rhubarb and cranberry character and modest yeastiness the main players. On the palate it is dry, perhaps even a touch astringent, but that gives it a bit of sour and savoury grip against the berry fruits that are a little more obvious in the mouth. Stylish.