In the absence of any kind of organised, comparative tastings during Covid-19 lockdown, I thought it would be fun to put together a tasting of fifteen Traditional Method wines that come in around £20-25. It’s a bit of an in-between price point, below good champagne but above the basic party fizz/Prosecco market. There are some very, very good wines available.
I tasted the wines in three flights of five in the following order:
- Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV, New Zealand
- Torelló Special Edition 2014, Spain
- Enrico Gatti Franciacorta Brut, Italy
- Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire Brut NV, France
- Tesco Finest English Sparkling Wine
- Ferrari Maximum Blanc de Blancs, TrentoDOC, Italy
- Griesel Riesling Brut 2015, Germany
- Hunters MiruMiru Brut NV, Malborough, New Zealand
- Raventós I Blanc, Blanc de Blanc 2017, Conca del Riu Anoia, Spain
- Reichsrat Von Buhl Sekt Reserve, Pfalz, Germany
- Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature 2016. Corpinnat, Spain
- Graham Beck Brut NV. Cap Classique, South Africa
- Berlucchi Brut ’61, Franciacorta, Italy.
- ‘A’ By Arras. House of Arras, Tasmania
- Roederer Estate ‘Quartet’, Anderson Valley, California.
If you want to see the fun bit first…
Roederer Estate ‘Quartet’ 17.5 £25, The Wine Society + widely available
Cloudy Bay ‘Pelorus’ Brut 17 £22.99 Mix Six, Majestic + widely available
Ferrari Maximum Blanc de Blancs 17 £20.32, Italvinus
Berlucchi ’61 Brut 17 £22, Tannico
Reichsrat Von Buhl Sekt Reserve 16.5 £22, Laithwaites
1. Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV, New Zealand
Chardonnay dominant. Mixture of stainless steel, large and small oak. 8 months on primary lees then a minimum of 2 years in bottle. 8g/l dosage.
Extroverted, delicious style with golden peach and grapefruit, swirling around with intense creamy, dairy lees character and coffee and toffee richness and some reductive complexity. Layered and very impressive. Arras? 17
2. Torelló Special Edition 2014, Spain
3. Enrico Gatti Franciacorta Brut, Italy
100% Chardonnay, 24 months on lees. All stainless steel.
Clean, clear and slightly peppery fruits. Apple and herbs, in a quite cool and elegant style. Doesn’t quite come together but a very good effort. Italian? 16.5
4. Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire Brut NV, France
60% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Cabernet Franc. All steel, 24 months on lees minimum.
Pretty white florals with sweet pear. A slightly wooly, damp note – is this the Chenin? It does expand out on the palate nicely. The dosage is quite high in the mix. Simple but solid. 15.5
5. Tesco Finest English Sparkling Wine
55% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir, 4% Pinot Meunier
This is dominated by a cool-fermented peardrop/boiled sweet note. It’s actually very fresh and solidly-balanced, but I’m finding this hard to call. Extremely youthful. I don’t know what this is. The Graham Beck? 15 (I accidentally said 16 in the video)
1. Ferrari Maximum Blanc de Blancs, TrentoDOC, Italy
100% Chardonnay. All steel, 30 months on lees.
This has a proper nose! Some nice smoky coffee notes, beautiful freshness of ripe golden fruits, nicely-assembled. This is extremely convincing. I hope this is the Ferrari! 17
2. Griesel Riesling Brut 2015, Germany
100% Riesling. Vinification in large oak.
A bit different! Bright florals, cooked lime and a sort of poached quality to the fruit. Oxidative. interesting style, maybe a touch developed? I’m guessing this is the Griesel. 15
3. Hunters MiruMiru Brut NV, Malborough, New Zealand
Roughly 50% Chardonnay/Pinot Noir with a smidgen of Pinot Meunier. 12-18 months on lees with 5g/l dosage.
Quite a suave style here, very convincing. Creamy, reductive, quite toasty. Pristine fruit, some real lightness and delicacy on the palate with fine acidity and touch of creamy butterscotch – some oak in there? Or malo? Cloudy Bay? 16.5
4. Raventós I Blanc, Blanc de Blanc 2017, Conca del Riu Anoia, Spain
40% Xarel-lo, 32% Macabeo, 27% Parellada. All steel, zero dosage.
This is quite classy – tight, dusty chalk and herbs, clean grapefruit/lime and a nice pithy focus on the finish. Bone dry. Youthful and snappy but a proper wine. One of the Spanish wines. 16
5. Reichsrat Von Buhl Sekt Reserve, Pfalz, Germany
80% Weissburgunder, 20% Chardonnay. Age not known. 80% Stainless Steel, 20% Oak.
This is impressive. Nice ripe pear, almond and yellow grapefruit. There’s some smokiness, and also some attractive creamy sourdough. Some delicacy on the palate, although it is a bit jumpy. Something savoury – oak – here? Good stuff, really well assembled. I don’t know this wine – the Gatti? 16.5
1. Recaredo Terrers Brut Nature 2016. Corpinnat, Spain
60% Xarel-lo, 20% Macabeu, 6% Monastrell, 6% Parellada. Stainless steel.
Very oxidative style, but quite intriguing and with some finesse on the palate. Nuts, quite blowsy florals, pithy and dusty. Nice herby set honey, with nice acidity. A big character. 15.5
2. Graham Beck Brut NV. Cap Classique, South Africa
51% Chardonnay, 49% Pinot Noir. 15-18 months on lees, 9.2g residual sugar.
Light, peardrop and grapefruit with white florals and something like elderflower. The English wine? Lots of youthful energy on the palate. Quite simple. 15.5
3. Berlucchi Brut ’61, Franciacorta, Italy.
90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. 24 months on lees. All Stainless steel.
So appetising. This is the other Franciacorta, Berlucchi? Reminds me of the Satèn ’61 I had 2 weeks ago. Ripe, golden Chardonnay fruits and some lovely buttery, peppery and spicy notes coming in. A little tropical. Pristine, sunny, very good indeed. Who wouldn’t like this wine? 17
4. ‘A’ By Arras. House of Arras, Tasmania
59% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay, 8% Pinot Meunier. Stainless steel and oak, 3 years on lees with 11g/l dosage.
This is curious. I can’t place it. At first it smells like detergent. Floral, aromatic, perfumed, possibly a little blowsy. But the palate is good – fresh, balanced. Dosage quite high. Intriguing, and I cannot work out what it is, even by elimination! 16
5. Roederer Estate ‘Quartet’, Anderson Valley, California.
49% Chardonnay, 51% Pinot Noir. Stainless steel with oak-aged reserve wines. No malo.
This is the most serious wine yet. Nothing off-kilter here. Lovely coffee-lined notes of clear, ripe grapefruit and some meatier Pinot notes with gentle autolysis. The palate is in another class to most of the wines here – silky, welded together, long with zest and smoke. Proper fizz! This can only really be the Roederer Estate. 17.5