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

Pierre Gimonnet Special Club ‘Grand Terroirs de Chardonnay’ 2012

Pierre Gimonnet Special Club ‘Grand Terroirs de Chardonnay 2012

Drinking very well already, this is a perfect example of 2012’s personality, balance without aggression or tightness. Evident ripeness of orange fruit – papaya, dried mango – is tempered by green apple and lemon tart. Richness of hazelnut biscuits. Lovely lift of honeysuckle and oyster/chalk rasp, closing in on the palate where the dosage dares to drop off. Very harmonious, focused and compelling  Flavours as clear as a mountain spring. 17.5

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Ayala No. 7

2007, just over a decade on lees. 2/3rds Chardonnay (Chouilly Cramant Oger Le Mesnil and Avize) 1/3rd Pinot (Ay and Verzy). All steel.

I like how this wine is pitched – it retails at around £60-70, sitting alongside vintage releases that are likely to be 5 years younger. A tempter, for sure.

It’s a one-off – a blend created for that year only. Incisive, energetic Chardonnay is resting on a bristling, textured bed of Pinot Noir, buzzing along with 2007’s acidity and intensity. Apricot and almond danish and pastry cream, yellow apples and candied citrus.

Firm, smooth and elegant, the weight of lees time pushes through and allows the wine’s natural drama to play out without much cushioning dosage.

No hesitation recommending this! Delicious. 17.5

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/ Ayala, Champagne, Classic Blend

Leckford Estate Brut 2015

 55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. All steel, c.3 years on lees.

Made by Ridgeview for Waitrose from grapes grown at Waitrose’s own Leckford farm in Hampshire.
2015 really is a bit up and down in England – the fruit here is not perhaps quite up to previous releases, although it’s cleanly-made and acceptable value at the offer price of sub £20. Apple, meadow flowers and a touch of cowslip greenness, a bit lean in truth but there are some nice yellow stone fruit and pale pastry tones. 15

Delamotte Blanc de Blancs NV

All Grand Cru Chardonnay from the producer of Salon based in Le Mesnil-Sur-Oger. 100% steel, Not sure of the base vintage.

This is a classy, thorough Blanc de Blancs shows a lovely integration between classic Chardonnay elements without anything too obvious. Ripe lemons and yellow grapefruit, juicier elements of white peach and even some fleshier tropical touches of green mango and starfruit, cushioned with sweet autolysis and freshened with delicate blossom and powdery chalk. Lovely and airy through the palate, but still keen and mineral. Balanced and so refined, this is a serious effort. 17.5

Oxney Classic 2016

45% Pinot Noir, 47% Pinot Meunier, 8% Chardonnay made in-house at this low-lying site in East Sussex, just across the county border from Gusbourne in Kent.

Quite distinctive in style this, cool and slightly green with elderflower and cowslip mingling with cox apple and light honey. Some deliberate savoury oxidative characters add subtle interest and seem to sit well with the wild, lithe style of this cuvée. I think this has lost a little freshness since tasted at the end of 2019. 15

A.R. Lenoble Chouilly Blanc de Blancs Mag ’14

2014 base with 40% reserves, partly aged in oak and partly in magnum under low pressure. Dosage 5 g/l.

This has had an extra stint in my cellar. Everything has mellowed here, including some of the oak influence. But it is still a bold, up-front champagne, landing with a big dollop of apple and cinnamon danish, toasted cashew and ratafia biscuit. Some blossom and bergamot lemon fragrance add delicacy, with a lick of vanilla buttercream that has settled out since I first tasted it.

Rich lemon oil and quite a gastronomic grip closes out a palate of front-end intensity and mid-to-late relaxation (borrowing an excellent @alavolee ism there!). The combination of the 2014 vintage, welcoming Chouilly fruit and the generous house style means this is a contrast from your tense, delicate kind of Blanc de Blancs, so if you like your Chardonnay with a bit of flair this is a cuvée to follow! 16

Jacquesson Cuvée 742

Jacquesson 742. 2014 base, 59% Pinot Noir from Aÿ, Dizy and Hautvilliers, with 41% Chardonnay from Avize and Oiry. Dosage 1.5 g/l. 100% old oak. Disgorged Jan 2019.

Any student of sparkling wine should probably get to grips with what makes a wine like this tick.

If you’re looking for a clean hit of zingy fruit, this is not it. It’s about developed fruits – dried peaches, bruised bramleys, preserved lemons in brine – and golden brown tones of dark-roasted hazelnuts, wood polish, sage, roast spices. There is some brightness of fennel and floral honey too, and the suggestion of almond essence sweetening the deal on the close.

Salty, rasping sherry notes frame the palate, which is actually not as tight as some of these 700 series. A lovely, smoothly-progressing shape, with no bumps or pinches. It is frank, but not unhinged.

All I end up wondering is what this fruit would taste like if it hadn’t been weathered quite so hard by oxygen. It is all very carefully and deliberately done, for sure. Which is why it is worth a taste, no matter which side your bread is buttered on. 16

Pierre Peters Cuvée de Reserve NV

2015 Base, 100% steel with 40% reserve wines. This is quiet, discreet and wholly convincing with its delicate lees sweetness and fine ripe apples and white fruits. Not tense or high-energy compared to some iterations of this wine 16.5