François Secondé Brut NV, Champagne

Sillery, Northern Montage. Based on 2015. All steel with Malo. Very likeable stuff, showing a slightly exotically green side to its flavours – lime, white pepper, green mango, some herbs even. Nice clarity and suppleness. A good, stylish NV bottle, although there is a slightly hard, green phenolic character (especially noticeable on day 2). Picked earlyish for acidity in the hot, dry conditions of 2015? 15

Mailly Extra-Brut 2012, Champagne

75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay from this fine co-op based in the Grand Cru village of Mailly on the Northern side of the Montagne de Reims. Disgorged in 2018 with 2.3g/l dosage. 

A  bit of a change in style from the entry level wines here, at least with this bottle – broader, more oxidative. Roast apple, charred lemon, a meaty kind of Pinot character, some smokey woodspice. This is developing fairly quickly I think. I wouldn’t keep it too long but it’s in a good place to drink right now. 16

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/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Mailly

Bellavista Franciacorta Satèn 2015

100% Chardonnay, 65 % oak fermentation. Disgorged Autumn 2019. I love the hedonistic style here, with lots of candied lemon, lime and yellow tropical fruits, wrapped up in white chocolate and hazelnut wafers. Just puts a smile on your face.

But there’s detail and nuance too, from interesting florals to heady vanilla/tonka. Some real grace in how the palate plays out too, even being wrapped in silky-sweet pasticceria goodness. Cin cin! 17

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Ca’ Del Bosco Vintage Collection 2014

Summing up the vinification would take too long – let’s just say it’s unique! Lots of protection from ‘bad’ oxidation, but fermentation in small barrels for about 5 months. Chardonnay dominant, with a splash of Pinot Blanc and around 30% Pinot Nero. 

Cut a slice of ripe grapefruit and beautiful Mediterranean lemon, drizzle it with Demerara and pepper then roast it until just charring..grind up some hazelnuts (you left a bit of coffee in there), then smash it up over a fresh almond croissant. Finish it off with a teeny bit of woodland savour..scrunchy leaves, a little haunting of Pinot…delicious!

It manages to shape that lovely Franciacorta fruit into something with real direction and length. The sweet nature is there, but it is honed, channelled. 18

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Marchesi Antinori Franciacorta Cuvée Royale

78% Chardonnay, 12% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Blanc. All steel.

Sweet apple purée on opening, with some pretty raspberry tart and dried peach. It does move up a gear, though, with chocolate croissants and charred clementines completing an alluring, swish kind of nose. It hits with a little fruity paunch up front, with candied fruits and peachy sweetness coloured with smoky charred citrus marmalade. A one act show, but it’s a good one. 16.5


/ Franciacorta, Marchesi Antinori, Other

Ferghettina Franciacorta Satèn 2015

100% Chardonnay, 10% barrique with 3 yrs on lees.
Lumpen, feeling both over and under-ripe in ways. Pineapple almond, with sourdough crackers a little yeasty richness, but some tough phenolics and little elegance here. 15

Bonfadini Franciacorta Satèn Carpe Diem

100% Chardonnay, steel and oak with 24 months on lees minimum. Dosage 6.5g/l

Peach yoghurt and a slightly funky jackfruit aroma on opening, then some interesting aromatics – a snap of chicory and charred lime peel veer towards herbaceousness, but talc and something lavendar-like add some intrigue. Pineapple sweets. A decent mousse, plateauing with herbal sage and lime flirting round the edges. Not totally harmonious but full of interest. Orange oil on the finish. 16

/ Blanc de Blancs, Bonfadini, Franciacorta

Lantieri de Paratico Franciacorta Extra Brut

85% CH, 15% PN, Steel and some small oak.

This took a while to open. Initially it just showed a fruity duo of white peach and slightly chewy citrus, but it opened up to some nice candied ginger, golden apple and fragrant tropicals. A bit butch on the palate on first impressions, seeming young and undeveloped, but there is some elegance and clarity lurking. Fairly priced. 16.5

Berlucchi ’61 Rosé

60% PN, 40% CH, 2 years on lees. Sweet crabapple, fruit a little muted at first but opening up very slowly with some bitter herbs and grapefruit. The fruit sweetness – nectarine, raspberry – arrives after a while, tagged with a little autolytic and cut with fine phenolic details. Seems a touch charmless and anodyne compared to the others in this range at the moment. Difficult base vintage? 15.5

/ Berlucchi, Franciacorta, Rosé

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