Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV, 2017 Base

This tasting saw the latest 2017-based Classic Cuvée down at 4.5 g/l, where a finely-sanded texture delivers clear and elegant citrus fruit. The style is frank, yes, but the freshness is appreciable. It really needs some more time, though. At 4.5g it is a touch severe with this youthfulness. I would expect the score to climb with later disgorgements of this vintage base.

15.5

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ 2017 Base, Classic Blend, England, Hambledon, NV

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

Hambledon Première Cuvée Rosé NV, 2015 Base

This was my second taste of wonderfully-bonkers Première Cuvée Rosé, a zero dosage wine from 100% Pinot Meunier in the 2015 vintage. Deep, dark and curious, this is developing post-disgorgement like a fairly openly-stanced light red with its dried leaves and plums. A proper conversation piece to drink sooner rather than later.

15.5

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ 2015 Base, England, Hambledon, NV, Rosé

Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé NV

The contrast of the Première Cuvée Rosé with the LED-bright Classic Cuvée Rosé NV is quite something, its 90% Chardonnay motoring off with massive acidic brightness in a mineral, racy wine that is almost a polaroid negative of the other, Pinot-led Rosés in the room. A real pick-me-up.

16

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ England, Hambledon, NV, Rosé

Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve NV, 2015 Base

The Classic Reserve has a lovely sense of generosity to its baked lemon and red apple fruit, touched by a bit of sourdough toast. Really quite elegant in a direct kind of way, treading a nice line between friendliness and seriousness.

16

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

Marc Hebrart Cuvée de Réserve NV

This has been in my cellar for 18 months. A gregarious style, with caramelised pear pastries and fleshy orange papaya fruit and digestive biscuit. The dosage has kept it fresh despite the openness. A bit soft-focus but a safe bet.

16

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Marc Hebrart, NV

Arras Brut Elite 1501 NV, 2015 Base

Brut Elite 1501 is the current iteration of the mid-tier wine, and starts to show some real Arras character. Struck match and lime oil open up, whilst fenugreek spice and some nice wild buttery richness are thrown against a cleansing freshness on the palate. The marine, sea-spray sort of saltiness is here too. There is some real intensity of tropical fruit lurking, but this shows a quieter style than the vintage wine. Some may prefer it.

17.5

Date Tasted : 23/01/2020

/ 2015 Base, Arras, Classic Blend, NV, Tasmania

Cottonworth Classic Cuvée NV, 2014 Base

The Classic Cuvée NV is a perennial favourite, displaying the quality of the vineyards here. It seems to achieve a fuller, more distinguished Chardonnay expression than many of its local peers, with freshness of truly ripe, rich lemon, sweet red apple and a lovely red fruit element sitting in front of baked pear, icing sugar and almond. A touch of chalky grip, too. There is a dimensionality of flavour here that sets it apart amongst the Classic Cuvées in the room.

17.5

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ 2014 Base, Classic Blend, Cottonworth, England, NV

Exton Park Blanc de Noirs NV

The Blanc de Noirs NV seems to have become a welcome fixture in the portfolio. I think the base vintage must have moved on from the last time I tasted as its lovely pear and blossom fragrance was just a touch tangy and direct. With a few more months in bottle this will open up.

15.5

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ Blanc de Noirs, England, Exton Park, NV

Exton Park Rosé NV

The Rosé NV was on majestic form. It has one of the most distinctive fragrances in English Sparkling Wine, with totally joyful raspberry fruit dusted with white pepper and delivered with beautiful clarity on the palate. This is available in Magnum £75, which has to be a seriously good buy. It is frustrating to see it in clear glass, though, so vulnerable to that wonderful fruit being spoilt by light damage.

17

Date Tasted : 07/02/2020

/ England, Exton Park, NV, Rosé