Ballabio Farfalla Metodo Classico Extra Brut

100% Pinot Noir. Casteggio in Lombardia, VSQ. Bready, pear and some meaty red fruits, a touch phenolic and hollow 15

/ Ballabio, Blanc de Noirs, Italy

Henriot Brut Millésime 2008

Always enjoy Henriot. Lovely polish and freshness, welcoming rather than tense or challenging in style but always with plenty going on.

This 2008 vintage is drinking just right for me now. A lovely reductive signature of jackfruit and oyster shell, ripe golden fruits from candied grapefruit to fresh berries, richness of ginger snap and sweetness of almond essence and acacia honey. That sweet dried mushroom maturity is creeping in, maybe threatening to get ahead of itself.

Very cleanly-styled on the palate with candied fruit to the fore and a nice sweet, zesty punch. I’m feeling the dosage a touch high on the radar for me. It’s not the most focused 08 at this stage, but it is essentially very delicious. Knowing some more recent bases I’m expecting even more from 2012 onwards. 16.5

Find this wine on Wine-Searcher

/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Henriot

Coolhurst Demi-Sec Rosé 2016

 

100% Pinot Noir from the 2016 vintage, with 32 g/l dosage.

As soon as Charlie from @coolhurstvineyards told me they were doing this wine I thought ‘yes’! Their dry wines have offered up such fresh, silky and refined expressions of English Pinot that all the extra dosage does is add a natural, balanced fruit sweetness.

Some classic fresh red fruits as you’d expect, but also ripe red apples, clementine and white peach, a twist of pepper and gingerbread, delicate white rose and meringue. There’s some crabapple jelly, but not a hint of anything wild or herbaceous. No rough edges, just pure delicacy from great fruit and sensitive winemaking ( Ulrich Hoffmann at @hoffmannandrathbone .)

An addictive little redcurrant pip twist pops up on the finish, joining the polished acidity in maintaining proper tension and length, too. This is the first Demi-Sec to properly grab me from the UK. Hats off! 17

Simpsons Wine Estate Chalklands Classic Cuvée 2017

Simpsons didn’t use as much inert pressing for the 2017 vintage of the Chalklands Classic Cuvée as was used in 2016, and Charles explains that the resulting wine has a more oxidative style.* The 2017, composed of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay fermented in steel and aged on lees for 20 months, pours a notably golden hue, with an inviting vein of almond and set honey running through farm-shop apple juice (the posh stuff). It wears a light and bright texture beneath this open stance, with some delicacy and a fine, appetising almond-skin substance on the close, unimpeded by difficult acidity or dosage – a sign of good fruit in England.

The oxidative surface here speaks of more than just pressing, to me – this is a wine that has been deliberately given a shot of maturity beyond its years. It could really land with anyone wanting a change from the frank, LED-bright styles we sometimes get at entry level. 16

Ferrari Perlé Bianco 2009

100% Chardonnay from this slightly cooler TrentoDOC vintage. All stainless steel. Disgorgement mid 2018.

This lovely vintage is developing a more golden set of flavours now, with a strongly reductive personality that threatens vegetal notes but stays with jackfruit and pineapple, lime and lily, candied grapefruit and ginger. It retains the sinewy tension of roasted lemons on the palate, opening out now to a fine, relaxed place with gentle, unobtrusive bakery richness. An intriguing touch of something like paprika – smoky pepperiness – that I’ve started to associate with all these wines, too. Complex and rewarding, if not quite as harmonious as some other recent Perlés. 17

Find this wine on Wine-Searcher

/ Blanc de Blancs, Ferrari, TrentoDOC

Fox & Fox Chairman’s Vat (C.V.) 2014

A new limited edition of 1018 bottles, blended by Gerard Fox. 60% Pinot Noir and 20 each of Chardonnay and the F&F secret weapon, Pinot Gris.

This has some attitude! Lots of sweet apples, red and russet, roasted and fresh, pepped up with ripe lemon juice and jasmine. With time, delicate white peach sweetness wakes up alongside the almond croissant and toasted pecan deliciousness that comes with time in bottle.

Electric acidic brightness on the palate – a real live wire – held in check by crystal clear fruit sweetness and delicate creamy weight. A fine chalky, rocky grip pulls the palate tight. You’re left with tingling fresh lemon juice, the lick of sweet pastry and the lift of white florals, sparring with each other and daring you back in.

Thoroughly enlivening, a wild child sent to finishing school and deciding they quite like it. 16.5

Buy from Fox & Fox

Read Six Atmospheres English Sparkling Wine 2020

/ Classic Blend, England, Fox & Fox

Harrow And Hope Brut Reserve no. 4

40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier. 2015 Base, with 30% reserve wines stored in 225l barriques. Disgorged June 2019 with 8 g/l dosage, comprising older oak-aged wines. Current releases are later disgorgements.

A fully-realised, confident style that shows off some excellent fruit. Ripe, peppy yellow grapefruit and lemon marmalade are set against roasted yellow apples, nectarines and salty, buttery pastry. With time the Pinots come alive – crimson strawberry sweetness and lovely meaty, spicy notes that play with the oak influence. The subtle reductive complexity I tasted soon after disgorgement has mellowed, and a delicious caramelised pineapple character is creeping in.

There is a bristling, gregarious kind of energy here that is shared with the excellent Blanc de Noirs from 2015. But then this is not a wine that has had all its natural texture polished out of it. In fact it retains a fine, appetising grip, held deliciously in balance. Very happy alongside food, and certainly welcomes some time in bottle. 17.5

Buy from Harrow & Hope

Six Atmospheres English Sparkling Wine.2020

Ca’ Del Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi 2010, Franciacorta, Italy

Ca’ Del Bosco Cuvée Annamaria Clementi 2010

55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Bianco, 20% Pinot Nero. 18 vineyards in Erbusco, Adro, Corte Franca, Iseo and Passirano. Notable for the high percentage of Pinot Bianco, otherwise declining in importance in Franciacorta. Whole bunch pressed to 39% extraction – coeur de cuvée style. 100% fermented in small oak barrels (minimum 3 yrs old), on which the base wines remain for 6 months. Full malolactic. Disgorged Autumn 2019 with no dosage or sulphite addition. 

2010 opens up with explosive charred grapefruit, ripe yellow apples and blossom honey. It manages to tone down anything too peachy or tropical, trading off delicious verbena/bergamot perfume and a gorgeous spicing from white pepper, cinnamon and basil. Shifting in its seat, it gives you a different view every 5 minutes. Proper complexity from blending here. 

It’s also pretty remarkable for a 100% oak-aged wine, letting the wood play brilliantly off reductive smoke and frangipane sweetness without smudging the fruit in butter or toffee. Golden crystal fruits just march steadily, evenly, towards more charred grapefruit and spice as it closes out. Lingering almond skin sends you back in. Wonderfully addictive. 

It does offer that little squeeze though the mid-palate you get with some zero dosage wines (and a touch of powdery, rocky grip), but here it is refreshing and light, not hollow or abrupt. There’s intensity, but it’s delivered with a cool, steady hand. Will it maintain this poise with age? Who knows! I wouldn’t bet against it. 18

Find this wine on Wine Searcher

Geoffroy Brut Expression Brut Premier Cru

50% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir, 10% Chardonnay. Cumières and Hautvilliers. All steel apart from some large oak for reserves. 2012/2013 Base, disgorged October 2017. Dosage 7g/l. 

A great blend of base vintages and no malo means this entry-level wine is shining very brightly even at 2.5yrs post-disgorgement. You receive a friendly, unpretentious Meunier greeting with apple pie and toasted oats (without the cream), then the fragrance of an orchard in blossom and some riper orange fruit. It’s pepped up with fresh lemon&limeade focus on the palate and a little almond essence. Warm flavours presented with icy coolness. Direct, charming, excellent value. 16.5

/ Champagne, Classic Blend, Geoffroy

Roederer Estate ‘Quartet’, Anderson Valley, California.

49% Chardonnay, 51% Pinot Noir. Stainless steel with oak-aged reserve wines. No malo.

Notes as written blind from The Big Blind Bargain Bubble Tasting.

This is the most serious wine yet. Nothing off-kilter here. Lovely coffee-lined notes of clear, ripe grapefruit and some meatier Pinot notes with gentle autolysis. The palate is in another class to most of the wines here – silky, welded together, long with zest and smoke. Proper fizz! This can only really be the Roederer Estate. 17.5

Find this wine