Sparklings as ever take centre stage in an English tasting, but it felt like there was almost equal prominence paid to stills.
Biddenden’s Gamay Noir 2018
(£15) remains one of my favourite English reds. This sits between village and cru-level Beaujolas. Endlessly quaffable, fresh, with ripe red cherries singing throughout. Meanwhile Gusbourne’s 2016 Pinot Noir (£24 where available
) has cherries and spice on the nose, with some real complexity hidden behind it. This was good – but watch this space for the 2018 when it gets released.
Oxney Organic, who produce very good sparkling wine, also produced my favourite rosé of the day (2018, £16.5
). If ever there was an archetypal English rosé this would be it: strawberries and cream on the nose and palate, with a wonderful mouthfeel.
Still chardonnays are on the up. Simpsons Gravel Castle (2018, £17
) is one of the most fruit forward I’ve tasted, even if there’s a noticeable sweetness on the palate that I assumes there to even out acidity. Hush Heath’s Springfield Chardonnay 2018 (not online yet), was a real delight: steely, mineral, but with some vanilla softening to give balance.
Into sparkling, we have some delicious wines. The ‘Winners Table’ didn’t have prices shown. And so when I tried the Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvée 2014 and noted down 'standout of the day’, I had no idea it was £100 a bottle. It was indeed a pure buttery, lees-heavy, lemony, joy with an incredible finish that I wanted to drink bottle after bottle of. But – the price tag is hard to justify.
The next biggest joy was Langham’s Blanc de Blancs Non Vintage
, which at £31 feels like a steal in comparison. But it’s not just affordable goodness, this is a real luxury. The most wonderfully prominent aroma sprang from the glass. Ripe apples, but nothing overly tart, lemon skins, toasted sourdough, it was hard not to just stay with this for the day. Buying a case of this is now high up my to do list.
And a final shoutout, to Black Chalk’s Wild Rose 2018 (£40
). This is Jacob Leadley’s second vintage and comes off the back of the news he’s just raised money to launch his own winery. There’s something about English sparkling rosé that I prefer to pink Champagne. This is sheer elegance, with soft fruits, and a wonderful mousse.