(2022) My first tasting of the deluxe Cuvée des Hussards from Frerejean Frères, a house created by Guillaume, Richard and Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger in 2005. It is 85% Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize, Grauves and Chouilly, and 15% Pinot Noir from Vertus. All vineyards are rated Premier or Grand Cru, with vines more than 40 years old. It is Extra Brut that spent eight years in the cellars. Even with a very low dosage, there is obvious ripeness and a suggestion of lusciousness on the nose. There are characters of its long ageing, with maturing notes of fig and honey, truffle too, but then a cleansing note of citrus and firm pear that balances. In the mouth the fruit sweetness belies the lowly dosage, the palate is nutty and caressed by creamy sweet flavours, but the sheer acid core gives a shimmering lemon brightness, flitting touches of saline and spices adding to the complexity of the long finish. I think this certainly ready to drink now.
(2022) From a avery small winery this is all Chardonnay, with fermentation in French oak barrels, followed by six months ageing in the barrels and a minimum of 30 months on the lees. Fine almond and mineral flecked creamy nose, with plenty of biscuit and fresh lemony flavour. The palate has lovely juiciness and succulence: lots of fresh-squeezed lemon running through peach, that light creaminess of texture adding some mouth-filling texture, the acidity very fresh with a touch of salinity. Only 6g/l dosage, disgorged in October 2020.
(2022) Composed of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, this was fermented in steel but the finest musts then matured six months in French oak. The wine then spends a minimum of five years on the lees plus five more in bottle before release. Very fine mousse, with a custard apple creaminess, some yeasty biscuit notes and a fat lemony fruit. With virtually no residual sugar it is taut, driven by citrus, and though there's a certain lean, wiry character, it is not mean or under-fruited. It is all about mouthwatering citrus and acid thrust, but the inherent ripeness avoids any suggestion of lacking generosity.
(2022) A big name in Cava production, but such a nicely made inexpensive fizz. Like Champagne, it is made by the traditional method with second fermentation in individual bottles, from the three classic Cava varieties: Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parellada. Fine small bubbles and creamy apple pie aromas, little herb and citrus notes. Fresh, zippy and yet with plenty of ripe pear fruit, it is mouth-filling in texture and finishes with good balance and a bit of length too. At £8.00 a nice - and different - alternative to Prosecco. Watch the video for more information.
(2022) What a lovely Champagne, all 1er Cru Chardonnay, fermented with 20% in barrels, and aged 48 months on the lees. It has 8g/l dosage, and this bottle was disgorged November 2018. Beautifully biscuity and toasty, with a crushed almond sheen of elegance and obviously ripe fruit exhibiting a certain generosity. The mousse is cushioning and creamy, and the palate poised between hazelnut richness, peachy fruitiness and a generous line of limey acidity. The richness keeps this decadent, the acid line sharp, in a delicious and elegant wine.
(2022) A brand new product, not yet in the UK at time of review, this is a semi-sparkling wine closed with a crown cap and sold undisgorged (and therefore lightly cloudy) in the col fondo or 'pet nat' style. It pours a pale, cloudy gold but immediately has interest with aromas of apricot and yeast, some fine pear and apple too, suggesting a dry character. It is indeed dry in the mouth, the gentle effervesence adding to the volume on the palate, that yeasty, slightly wheat-beer character set against very nice fruit and balanced acidity. Most enjoyable. Should sell for around the same price as the Fagher (£16 at time of review).
(2022) Again 100% Glera, this comes from the calcium-rich soils of the hill of Cartizze. It has a longer second fermentation than the Fagher cuvee, and is Dry, meaning it has at least 18g/l of residual sugar and noticeable sweetness. There is great delicacy here, a little icing sugar and bon-bon note, a gentle biscuity character in the background. Extremely elegant and almost weightless on the palate, the featherlight quality might at first seem too delicate, but there is persistence, balance between sweetness and acidity, in a very charming, high quality Prosecco.
(2022) A classic Trento DOC traditional method sparkling wine, the composition 100% Chardonnay with 36 months on the yeast. Again vineyards here rise to over 600 metres on volcanic soils identified by PICA. The base wine goes through malolactic fermentation, and the dosage 7g/l. Very creamy and with Chardonnay richness yet apple and lemony bite to the fruit on the palate. Nicely balanced, not particularly complex, but refreshing and easy to drink.
(2022) This is the second vintage of this cuvée from Surrey's Greyfriars Vineyard, the initial 2015 bottling having won a Wine GB Trophy. Only 3,400 bottles of this wine will be released in May 2022. The 2016 spent an additional six months under cork having been disgorged in August 2021, and is again a blend from the best plots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, fermented and aged for around 48 months in older oak barrels, with a dosage of 7.5g/l. There is a mealiness and slightly meaty, toasty element to the nose which is otherwise crisp and focused on lemons and custard apples. In the mouth the mousse is fresh and lively, and there's a great citrus drive to this wine, a fat lemony concentration, the acidity taut and that moderate dosage emphasising a pithy, apple core dryiness to the finish. It drinks very well, the barrel-ageing fof the base wine just giving a little breadth, but I think this would also be worth cellaring for a year or two as it will loosen up a little more. A limited number of magnums will be released too I believe.
(2022) A basically alcohol-free sparkling wine made mostly from ripe Chardonnay grapes, with the alcohol removed by the 'spinning cone' process. The bubbles are modest and dissipate fairly quickly. The aromas are quite classically Chardonnay, with a slightly buttery citrus character. In the mouth lots of apple flavour, grapey, with some sweetness but a drier citrus finish. A refreshing drink for those avoiding alcohol.