(2021) This Brut sparkling wine from Graham Beck is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 80% from their home vineyards in Robertson, the rest from coastal vineyards of the Western Cape. There are few more experienced producers of MCC that Graham Beck, and this is lean, linear and lovely. There's a suggestion of bread and biscuit after 18 months on the lees and with around 10% of reserve wines in the blend, but pin-sharp lemon and rosy red apple aromas. On the palate, this has a great zesty length of lemony-fresh fruit, a salty and nutty aspect adding some layering into the finish. Dosage is 9g/l, but with no malolactic it is one of crispest, most refreshing wines in this line-up. Watch the video for more information. On offer at £10 in Waitrose until April 6th 2021, and in Majestic and other retailers too.
(2021) Fior d'Arancio means orange blossom in Italian, and yes, this sweet and low alochol sparkling wine from the Veneto region of northeast Italy does indeed show a little of that character. The always floral Moscato Giallo grape variety is no doubt responsible for that, in this fragrant take on the familar Moscato d'Asti style of Piedmont. Frothy, sweet and eminently drinkable, who could not love a wine like this at under £6, balanced as it is by gentle but effective acidity? Match it to fruity summer desserts, but otherwise, stick a bottle in the fridge as soon as summer sunshine is forecast and plan a long day doing very little in the garden.
(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) 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) 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) 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
(2021) A classic, traditional method blend of Macabeu, Xarel·lo and Parellada, spending 40 months on the lees before disgorgement. Buyer Pierre Mansour says he's on a 'bit of a mission' to support Cava, given the market share and prominence it has lost, especially with the boom of Prosecco, and my goodness this is proof that he has a point: Brut Nature, so dry and without dosage, it has the honeyed, buttery and waxy note I often get from quality Cava made from the traditional varieties, a full, generous mousse, and a mouth-filling breadth of creamy and lightly biscuity character with excellent yellow plum and citrus fruit and acidity to finish. Very fine, very delicious.
(2021) Hush Heath's Kent vineyards boast not only the three major Champagne grapes, but three more out of the seven varieties allowed in Champagne. As well as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Les Sixes includes 13.5% Pinot Blanc, 8.5% Arbane and 3.5% Petite Meslier. A 2014 vintage, it has spent five years on lees. A good crop of small, streaming bubbles in the glass, the nose has Cox's pippin and biscuit on the nose, plenty of creamy autolysis, then a surge of sweet, ripe and mouth-filling fruit on the palate. Theres terrific zing and juiciness here, tangy and sparky lemon zest acidity, but a punchy peach and nectarine on the mid-palate blends into the sharply-def8ned, crisp finish.
(2021) A fun and frothy blend of local grapes Bical, Cercial, Arinto and Baga, this is a classical method wine, with second fermentation in individual bottles, but in all honesty there is little evidence of autolysis - the biscuity, nutty effect of the yeast ageing - the wine is rather more like a cross between a decent cava and a Prosecco. Pear fruitiness and sweetish character in the mouth along with a frothy mousse and nice balance of acidity make it a fun summer in the garden contender. It offers decent value at £6.99, though don't expect a fine Champagne lookalike.
(2020) Pommery doesn't enjoy the greatest of reputations among Champagne afficionados, but I really rather enjoyed this wine, made with around 9g/l dosage and with around 30% reserve wines in the blend. Bready and lightly toasty on the nose, the bubbles are tiny and rise steadily in the glass, and the palate it taut with a lemony thrust of fruit and acid, but a certain peachy sweetness on the mid-palate, with a reasonably long and nicely balanced, tangy finish.