(2020) The UK's centre of excellence for wine and winemaking studies, Plumpton College's students make wines from their own estate vines in East Sussex. For this medium-deep coloured rosé the grape variety is Acolon, a Geerman cross of Blaufränkisch and Dornfelder. A little touch of earthiness and herbal quality sits nicely with creamy, pulpy soft strawberry fruit aromas. In the mouth lots of fruit sweetness and creaminess, good balancing acids and a highly sippable pink all-rounder.
(2020) This non-vintage English sparkling rosé is a blend of 35% Pinot Meunier, 34% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay. 691 bottles were produced of this 18th December 2019 disgorgement, which was put into bottle on 23rd May 2017, so fully 30 months on the lees. It has a pale salmon/peach colour and lovely soft, pulp red fruit aromas, strawberry and raspberry. There is a nice biscuity autolysis too, giving creamy and mineral notes. In the mouth there is sweet fruitiness and the Brut level of dosage to soften tart bery fruits, and that it does very nicely indeed into a long, lemony and elegant finish.
(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 blend here is 60% of the red-skinned hybrid, Rondo, along with 32% Pinot Gris and 8% Pinot Noir. The wine has a dosage of 9g/l, and pours a medium-pink with good small bubbles. There's an attractive cherry bright and strawberry shortcake aroma, a nice creamy suggestion, then onto the palate a nicely balanced combination of small, dry red berry and orange fruitiness, and a line of citrussy acidity that gives it a fresh and balanced appeal, the dosage swept up by good acidity for a long, quite elegant finish.
(2019) The blend here is 50% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir, 11% Pinot Meunier and 11% Pinot Gris, with a dosage of 8g/l. Lemony colour, small bubbles, and plenty of yeasty biscuit and nutty notes, a little bit of a ripe peachy character but much more about orchard fruits and lemon zestiness. The palate is well-balanced and has very good fruit. It is essentially fairly straightforward, but that risks damning with faint praise, because the nutty Cox's pippin fruitiness, sheer lemon acidity and fine length and clarity are all very good indeed and it's a pleasure to drink.
(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) What a fascinating wine, made from a single plot of Pinot Meunier that ripened exceptionally well in the 2018 vintage, it was harvested on 19th October and aged for a short period in a combination of French and American oak. It is pale-medium in colour and has an intriguing nose, somewhere between fresh-hung game and raspberry, gentle earthiness and tobacco spices adding to the complexity of aromas. In the mouth there is beautifull creamy sweetness, touching on summer-pudding fruitiness, but that gamy nuance persists, a touch of a darker, coffee character and a rasp of plum skin grippy tannin. The acidity is good too, in a light and yet substantial wine that's full of interest.
(2019) The sparkling wine in this inaugural Winemakers' Collection is 100% Chardonnay from the 2012 and 2013 vintages, that spent 12 months in Burgundy barrels before a further five years in bottle on the lees. It has zero dosage and the colour already appears quite deep through the clear glass bottle, tinged with gold. Bubbles are small, and the initial aroma is of bruised apple and pear, a touch of pastry, and a custardy touch. In the mouth the mousse if fine and racy, and the wine streaks across the palate with a surge of lemony fruit. There's a fascinating lick of saltiness to the acid profile, but it perhaps lacks a bit of palate depth given the barrel treatment and long time on the lees, finishing taut and fruit driven. At the price I would have hoped for a little more complexity, and wonder if just a few grams of dosage would have given that?
(2019) The name is a pun on 'sept', the French word for seven, as all seven of Champagne's permitted grape varieties are used: it's a bend of Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Pinot Gris, Arbanne and Pinot Meunier. Made in stainless steel, but with six months batonnage, it's one of those wines which you would swear had been barrel fermented and aged: the nose is creamy with buttery and almond tones, beneath citrus and golden apple, quite firm and not too showy. In the mouth the wine immediately tightens up, a flowing citrus zest character and more of that dry crab apple bite of acidity, the finish long and full of zippy fruit and etched by acidity.
(2019) Notice the 11% alcohol in this zippy and aromatic wine from the chalk soils of Kent, the freshness of this 2017 vintage giving it great élan. There's a touch of the florals and of ripe citrus, certainly more lime and orange than lemon, before a palate where a touch of sweetness is soon grabbed by the scruff of the neck by the firm but generous acidity. Quite long, finishing with a hint of chalky, flinty character, a more pithy bite of acidity, and an impressive follow-up on the 2016 vintage.