Fox and Fox Tradition 2014 Magnum

100% Pinot Noir. No MLF. 4.5yrs on lees, 1 yr on cork.

Creamy, alluring apple blossom and fresh raspberry/blackberry aromas, cinnamon-spiced apple and an engaging autolytic richness. Some savoury touches here, which I like –  creamed mushroom and nut butter. Clarity, purity and length on the palate, although the mousse needs to settle a bit with further time. There are little nuances here –  honey, dried lime, anise. So complex and engaging. Dosage hits a little front-end perhaps but bodes very well for the future. Wonderful. 17.5

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/ Blanc de Noirs, England, Fox & Fox

Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs 2009 Magnum

All steel. Original chardonnay vines near the winery. Full MLF, 112 months on lees. Disgorged November 19.

Lovely gunpowder reductive character which threads right through the whole wine beautifully. Very fine candied grapefruit on toast presented with tremendous internal freshness. Subtleties of white pepper, white flowers (lily/bergamot?), very faint truffle honey even. What a gorgeous set of flavours! Some lemon tart richness starting to build, but it is embryonic. Refinement in texture and a truly energetic finish in evidence. Top tier, and will be very long-lived. 18

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/ Blanc de Blancs, England, Ridgeview

Ridgeview Oak Reserve NV

All Chardonnay from the original vineyards at Ridgeview.  Just 11 months on lees (!) .2015, 16 and 17 vintages. 3 g/l dosage. 

Fresh lemony oak, white butter, the wood is fairly bold but of high quality with nutmeg/yellow spice and a nice sweet dill/fennel note. The palate is harmonious, with some real finesse to the texture inside the slightly grippy, but fresh oak. The incisive fruit still shines, with the acidity just in check. Feels very youthful, but stylish and moreish. 16.5

£75 direct from Ridgeview

/ Blanc de Blancs, England, Ridgeview

Mosnel Satèn 2015, Franciacorta

Mosnel’s 2015 Satèn is a real charmer. 100% Chardonnay, disgorged October 2019. All estate fruit from Carmignone. 

Dried yellow apples and pear tart, lovely candied yellow grapefruit and this subtle perfumed note that reminds me of jasmine and Turkish delight.

You’re hit with a lovely peachy/juicy pear ripeness up front, but there is enough transparency and interest – flower, pepper, chalk, even a nicely pitched reductive streak –  to stop the sweet-natured fruit running away with the whole show. It would be ungainly, jarring even with a big, zippy, insistent mousse. Silk is where it’s at for this style. Approachable. 16

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/ Blanc de Blancs, Franciacorta, Mosnel

Radgonske Gorice Untouched by Light, Slovenia

Attended an unusual launch of what should probably be called a ‘concept wine’ last week, and good fun it was too. Slovenian producer @radgonske_gorice has made a 100% Chardonnay without any exposure to light from picking until opening! Why? To raise awareness of light strike, the damage caused to wine by exposure to light. Laudable stuff.

The wine itself? Untouched By Light is from the 2016 vintage, with 2000 bottles made. The vineyards are near the winery in Gornja Radgona near the Austrian border. A sunny, approachable style with golden apples, acacia honey and peach blossom. Slightly waxy with a little grapefruit pith bite, a little anise fragrance and gentle acidity. Solid, straightforward. The price is a rather ambitious 100EU. 

Really nice to see some trad-method fizz from lesser-known regions make it to these shores, though. 15.5

Vilmart Grand Cellier NV, Champagne

Vilmart Grand Cellier. This had been in my, er, petit cellier for a few years. Disgorged late 2016, I’m thinking 2012 base. Chardonnay dominant.

There’s the richness and boldness you expect from this terrific house based in Rilly-la-Montagne, but there’s also great refinement. Lemon shortbread and apricot kernel are getting delightfully heady with time in bottle, with delicious glazed apple tart set against a citric energy that pulls everything into tremendous, magnetic focus. 

This dances with all the magical duality of top champagne. Richness/precision. Decadence/stoicism. Naturalism/Stylism. Fancypants/Just-Bloody-Delicious. 17.5

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Vilmart

Taittinger Prélude NV, Champagne

Prélude is Taittinger’s in-betweener. A small production ‘non vintage’ wine that sits about £10 below the straight vintage in price. All Grand Cru, 50:50 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It’s actually a vintage wine, but the year is a guess – it spends 5 years on lees and tasted like a recent disgorgement (within the last year?) so I’m guessing 2014. Didn’t have the tension of 2013 to me. Not sure though. 

Really sweet-natured, fruity and clean style here. I was perhaps expecting something a bit more chiseled, but this turned out as more of a charmer with its white peach, blossom and whitecurrant fruit, the Chardonnay leading the charge at the moment with some crystallised pineapple ripeness coming through. Ample, but balanced dosage and the youthful post-disgorgement florals make this a very pretty wine that will gain in gravity with a little time in the cellar. Approachable but not quite as energetic as I was hoping for. Time, maybe. 16.5

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Taittinger

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut, Champagne

Billecart-Salmon Extra Brut. Newish Cuvée, although I believe it is actually now labeled as Brut Nature. Which it is!

Classic Billecart blend of 40/30/30 Pinot Meunier/Pinot Noir/Chardonnay. All steel, all Malo, 48 months on lees.

Everyone loved this wine, myself included. It managed to harness all the magical Billecart Meunier fruitiness, which keeps things eminently jovial even in this kind of stark presentation.

Fuzzy apricots and red apple, with this sweet, gentle blackberry  blossom meunier plushness pushing through just when you think it might dip. The richness of dry honey and oat biscuits lurks, and an interesting lime-leaf note forms a layer of addictive fragrance. It plays a lovely arc, letting itself down gently into the hard ground at the end of the brut nature palate. Really good example. 17

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Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2014

80% Pinot Nero, 20% Chardonnay. All stainless steel, 50 months on lees disgorged autumn 2019. A tricky vintage for most of Italy, Trentino included. Lots of rain and disease problems, especially for the red grapes. 

Nevertheless this wine hits all the right notes with lovely raspberries and peaches, dunked in lovely aromatics of smoky pepper, dried rose petals and orange. A little spicy tomato savour, with gentle sweet creaminess. Lovely clarity and reductive precision, as ever with Ferrari, although it is just a notch under some other Perlé releases. 17

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/ Ferrari, Rosé, TrentoDOC

Jansz Premium Cuvée

Chardonnay dominant, 2 years on lees. 5% Oak fermentation. Clean yellow grapefruit, toasted a little around the edged, sweet fresh apples and strawberries tied together with gentle almond milk autolysis. Subdued acidity, but clean, fresh and true. 16

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/ Classic Blend, Jansz, Tasmania