Hambledon Première Cuvée NV, 2013 Base

Première Cuvée shows an appreciable depth of toasted bread surrounding the bristling, fresh-lemon Chardonnay. At just 2 g/l the powerful citrus core is almost rampant on the palate. Quite an exciting style, although once again I found myself charmed a little more by the freshness of the entry-level wine.

16

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ 2013 Base, Classic Blend, England, Hambledon, NV

Ashling Park Brut NV, 2013 Base

Lovely generous nose of roasted apples and pears, raspberry tart and candied lemon zest. Ripe yellow stone fruit, sweet creaminess and sweet apricot kernel blend into an open, gently caramel-tinged palate, quite light at heart but turned out with a few deliciously developed flourishes. A producer to watch.

16.5

Date Tasted : 26/10/2019

/ 2013 Base, Ashling Park, Classic Blend, England, NV

Sugrue Cuvée Dr. Brendan O’Reagan NV, 2013 Base

fermentation with reserves from 2009. That Sugrue complexity again, amplified by age, wood and oxidative leanings; first the rich tones of maple and pecan pastries, toasted walnuts, old wood. Then ripe fruit – nectarines and lemon marmalade on toast, raspberries, windfall quince, some papaya too. The wheel keeps turning with spices like aniseed and white pepper. Power upfront on the palate, with those savoury tones surrounding slightly wild, bracing fruit before settling into a cool, calm finish of candied grapefruit peel and nuts. Engaging, singular wine. It is a bit over-the top with oak and could do with more freshness and precision.

16.5

Date Tasted : 15/11/2019

/ 2013 Base, Classic Blend, England, NV, Sugrue

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée MV (Magnum) , 2013 Base

Magnums receive a little longer in the Nyetimber cellars, both on lees and post-disgorgement. This is beautifully expressive, with shortbread pastry, raspberry and even a touch of blackberry fruit. The lovely clarity of Pinot fruit reminds me of Northern Montagne de Reims Champagne here, tinged with ginger biscuit richness. Once again, the poise on the palate is where Nyetimber shows its colours; from start to finish there’s nothing popping out from between the stitches here. Whether it’s the base vintage or the magnum speaking there’s just an extra degree of energy and lift here.

17.5

Date Tasted : 04/09/2019

/ 2013 Base, Classic Blend, England, Nyetimber

Hambledon Première Cuvée NV, 2013 Base

73% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Noir, 3% Pinot Meunier. This is the current release as of Autumn 2019. Gentle apricot and subtle orchard fruits sit with some classic ripe citrus notes without being screamingly appley or lemony – I wrote Asian Pear Tart, which isn’t a food that exists (to my knowledge) – as well as lovely sweet anise and almond. There is perhaps a slight starkness to the finish, as you’d expect with dosage this low, but the extra lees time here helps mitigate that and turn it more into a thirst-quenching snap of the tail than a wincing tartness. Very fine.

16.5

Date Tasted : 30/07/2019

/ 2013 Base, Classic Blend, England, Hambledon, NV

Ulysse Collin Les Enfers NV, 2013 Base

Les Enfers NV (3.6 g/l dosage) comes from an East-facing plot and showed welcoming apricot pastries and buttery lemon tart, full of zest and richened with turmeric and sweet wood. Oak layer too prominent for me.

16

Date Tasted : 17/12/2019

Ulysse Collin Les Roises NV, 2013 Base

Les Roises NV, also based on 2013 with 3.6 g/l dosage, is more golden in style, displaying a real sense of fruit sweetness from papaya, lime and dried apricots touched with magnolia and spiced butter. A lot of fresh oak flavour.

16.5

Date Tasted : 17/12/2019

Natalie Falmet Brut Nature NV, 2013 Base

100% Pinot Noir from the Côte Des Bar. 2013 vintage. No oak in this Cuvée. Disgorged over two and half years ago, this has held up very well. Some rich creamed ceps on the nose, with nicely-developed roasted pears and dried apple. The red berry freshness is still there though, and this has completely avoided any kind of harshness, nuttiness or unattractive drying-out over time. It’s like a tart apricot on the palate, tangy but moreish, closing out with a creamy little snap.

Interestingly only two picked this as being Pinot. Nobody went all-in and picked it as a Brut Nature. These wines are a bit like vegan cakes, though – you enjoy it more if it’s not too obvious!

16.5

Date Tasted : 13/12/2019

Ashling Park Cuvée Brut NV, 2013 Base

60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10 % Pinot Meunier. Really good Pinot Noir is centre stage here – so pretty with ripe red pear, summery redcurrant pudding and cream. The Chardonnay citrus is in supporting-actor mode, just offering a little zip. Ginger snaps and a bit of toffee apple bring some subtle depth – I think it is enjoying a little bit of post-disgorgement age

16

Date Tasted : 31/03/2019

/ 2013 Base, Ashling Park, Classic Blend, England, NV

Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles NV, 2013 Base

Lovely and outgoing with autumnal berry fruit and dried apple on the nose. There’s a nice, wild hedgerow side to the fruit too – think redcurrant and rosehip jelly, bright and fresh. That Bouzy power is lurking, mingling with apricot kernel and ginger crunch biscuit, but this recent disgorgement is friendly and open for business with floral honey and clementine sweetness. Chardonnay brings a vein of freshness right through the palate to accompany that biscuity-rich Pinot, carrying the finish with lovely acidity. If someone said ‘I like Bollinger…what about all this grower Champagne then” this is one I’d give them. It’s a little tighter perhaps, but it has that generosity of spirit with a beautiful transparency at 2.7g/l dosage. Exceptional value

16.5

Date Tasted : 20/10/2018