English fizz rated

(by Susie Barrie MW)

Wine-signEarlier this year I was commissioned by Decanter magazine to write an update on the fast-evolving world of home-grown sparkling wine.

Not only did this give Peter and me a brilliant excuse to set off on a road trip across the south of England, visiting some of our country’s finest established and new producers, it was also the perfect opportunity to taste as many English sparkling wines as possible that are currently on the market.

You can read my article in PDF format via this link: Susie’s piece on English fizz in Decanter’s June 2015 issue

Although I was only able to include 13 recommendations in the piece, I tasted many more wines that were worthy of mention. So here are those that didn’t quite make it into Decanter, as well as the ones that did. For the record, I tasted everything blind.

NB: I don’t have stockists and prices for all of the wines, so a web search will be necessary for some. Equally, the stockist information detailed in the Decanter article is more extensive than I’ve included here. For my list of ‘additional recommendations’ I have simply included a name and tasting note. All scores are out of 20.

Recommendations featured in Decanter

Hattingley Valley Kings Cuvée Brut 2011, Hampshire, 19pts, £65 hattingleyvalley.co.uk, Corks Out, Dalling & Co – This chardonnay-dominant blend is 100% barrel fermented and is quite simply stunning. Full of rich, roasted nut and orchard fruit aromas it also shows beautifully crisp acidity and is utterly compelling in its unique, spicy way. 12% Now-2020

Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2007, West Sussex, 18.5pts, £39.99 Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Berry Bros & Rudd, Farr Vintners (+ others) – There is incredible energy and focus in this superb blanc de blancs. Having spent five years on its lees and several in bottle it has developed a smoky, savoury and bready character whilst retaining elegant minerality and uplifting citric acidity. A wine with great structure that will give pleasure for many years. 12% Now-2020

Pruner,-NyetimberGusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2007 Late Disgorged, Kent, 18.5pts, £59.99 Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, Lea and Sandeman, Field and Fawcett, St Andrews Wine Co. – Very developed and yeasty, this is a delightfully rich, truffle-scented wine that shows its age but carries it beautifully. Its complex array of flavours ranges from honey and cream to mushrooms on toasted brioche, all underpinned by refreshing acidity. Hedonistic and a joy to drink. 12% Now-2017

Chapel Down Blanc de Blancs 2009, Kent, 18.25pts, £26.99 Harvey Nichols, chapeldown.com – Just a hint of oak was added to the dosage of this richly textured chardonnay, giving it an attractive, creamy flavour. The acidity is fresh and the finish long and savoury. An impressive and beautifully crafted wine from a lovely vintage. 12.5% Now-2018

Wiston Estate Rosé 2011, West Sussex, 18.25pts, £35.95 wistonestate.com, The Wine Pantry, Theatre of Wine, Noel Young Wines, local indepdendents. – As ever with Dermot Sugrue’s wines, this pale, cherry-hued rosé offers the perfect combination of elegance and character. It is creamy and spicy with delicate, wild strawberry fruit and a streak of nutty minerality. 12% Now-2017

Gusbourne Rosé 2011, Kent, 18.25pts, £32.99-34.99 Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Lea & Sandeman, Highbury Vintners, Uncorked, Wine Pantry – There is a touch of barrel influence in this wonderfully flavoursome and exotic rosé. Sour cherry fruit and rich toasted brioche fill the mouth while the finish is dry but sumptuous and spicy. 12% Now-2017

Wiston Estate Cuvée Brut 2010, West Sussex, 18pts, £32.95 wistonestate.com, The Wine Pantry, Theatre of Wine, Noel Young Wines, local indepdendents – A very pale wine with a fine, vibrant mousse, creamy aromas, and intense savoury flavours. Utterly self-assured and with classic poise and elegance. 12% Now-2018

Court Garden Ditchling Reserve 2010, East Sussex, 17.75pts, £29 South Downs Cellars – Recently released, this sumptuous blanc de noirs is a blend of the two pinots and 50% was aged in used oak for nine months. It shows rich and honeyed, spicy red fruit, along with a bold, smoky finish. 11.78% Now-2017

Ridgeview Victoria Rosé 2010, Sussex, 17.75pts, £32.95 Berry Bros & Rudd, Butlers Wine Cellars, Ten Green Bottles – A wonderfully toasty and characterful saignée rosé made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In the mouth it is bold and bready with classic English hedgerow and orchard fruit. 12% Now-2016

Davenport Limney 2010, East Sussex, 17.75pts, £24-28 Davenportvineyards.co.uk, Les Caves de Pyrenne, Vintage Roots, Vinceremos, Able & Cole, The Wine Pantry, The English Wine Co., Butlers Wine Cellar (plus other independents) – Over a decade ago Will Davenport arrived at my door with a bottle of his Limney organic English sparkling wine to try. I remember thinking it was still a work in progress but I admired his commitment to the organic cause. Today Limney is still organic and it is tasting delicious, with a lively mousse, rich yeasty aromas and a lovely, savoury flavour. 12% Now-2017

Langham Classic Cuvée Brut 2011, Dorset 17.75pts, £22 langhamwine.co.uk, independents – Made by Irish ex-jockey and Plumpton graduate Liam Idzikowski from Langham’s Crawthorne vineyard just outside Dorchester, this rounded and bready, red apple-scented fizz is a blend of the three champagne varieties. For Langham’s second ever vintage, it shows terrific promise. 12% Now-2016

Wyfold Brut 2010, Oxfordshire 17.5pts, £29.99 laithwaites.co.uk – Part-owned by Barbara Laithwaite, Wyfold is situated in the Chiltern Hills and the wines are made by Ridgeview. A consistently excellent performer this classic, and elegant fizz is a good value, reliable choice that is currently showing some attractive, yeasty development. 12.5% Now-2016

Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée 2011, Dorset 17.25pts – Deep lemon in colour and with aromas of freshly baked bread, this stylish Dorset fizz has a broad and generously textured palate with focused acidity and a long, satisfying finish. 12% Now-2016

Additional Recommendations


Bottles,-WistonNyetimber Tillington Single Vineyard 2009 – Attractively bold and savoury, bready aromas. This definitely shows development and authority. Nutty, praline character along with very savoury, mealy mouthfeel. Lacks a little freshness and length, and the dosage feels a touch high, but it shows a great deal of class. 17

Henners Brut Reserve 2010 – Mid straw with nutty, yeasty aromas. Palate is similar to the nose, the dosage is perhaps a little high but the acidity is crisp and it’s a characterful wine. 16.75

Sugrue Pierre 2010 – Light fresh aromas with a gentle mineral note. A little more on the palate than the nose – a really fresh, tangy style, very citric and really summery. Youthful and not showing much autolysis, but a classy wine. 16.5

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2010 – Classic champagne-like, bready aromas. Palate is similar with elegance and some good autolytic character. Peter comments: ‘Seems young still. Cultured, stylish, succulent – expresses but isn’t defined or limited by its Englishness’. 16.5

Wiston Brut NV – Restrained elegant lemon/mineral and herbal aromas. A touch bready and with a creamy, rounded feel in the mouth. 16.5

Henners Brut 2010 – Fruity and bready with simple, classic flavours and crisp acidity. Just lacks a bit of personality. 16.25

Breaky Bottom Brut 2007 – Pale with fine lively bubbles. Floral with light bready undertones. Palate is tangy and citric but lacks depth of flavour. Good but quite acidic and a little high in dosage to be totally balanced. 16.25

Breaky Bottom Cuvée Princess Colonna 2008 – Classic lemon and light, yeasty aromas. Fresh acid and a very bready profile – like a mid-range NV champagne and not at all bad. 16.25

Jenkyn Place Brut 2010 – Fresh and also yeasty on the nose. Clean and fresh with crisp apple fruit, brisk acidity and a hint of cream. 16.25

Chapel Down Three Graces 2009 – Exotic and nicely developed with a creamy, orange fruit feel and good tangy acidity. 16.25

Tickerage Classic Cuvée 2010 – Mineral and a little yeasty, pretty classic and quite autolytic. Good acidity, fresh but without great depth of flavour. 16.25

Knightor NV Brut – Pale with notes of citrus and bread. Savoury aromas but the dosage is slightly too high. It has an appealing spicy quality but it’s slightly out of balance 16.25

Hambledon Classic Cuvée – Pear fruit and bready aromas are to the fore in this youthful and crisply acidic glass of fizz 16.25

Upperton Aurora 2010 – Classic bready aromas. Palate is pretty classic but it lacks a little character at the moment. Competent. 16

Blanc de Blancs

Beams-and-barrels-in-15thC-barnCourt Garden 2010 – Very pale, and restrained on the nose. In the mouth it has a lovely nutty character, with elegant creamy, bready notes and very fresh, English-style acidity. 17

Furleigh Estate 2009 – Deep straw colour and a good intense, lemon citrus and yeast scent. A really well-made glass of fizz in the classic, Champagne mould. 17

Wiston Estate 2010 – Lemon/green with lively bubbles. Creamy, elegant and bready. Really nutty and stylish – there is crisp acidity here and some oak but it’s made with care and shows real character. Will benefit from a bit more aging. 16.75

Wiston NV – Youthful and acidic but it has a lot of flavour and some lovely mineral and autolytic characteristics. 16.5

Balfour Cuvée Skye 2010- Clean lemon/mineral aromas with a note of autolytic, yeasty complexity. Very fresh and lively with intensely citric, lemon & grapefruit acidity. Good depth of flavour, still very young but with potential to age. 16.5

Hindleap 2010 – Deep golden colour with rich, smokey aromas. In the mouth it is intense and developed with notes of mushroom, truffle and forest floor. A wine that has developed fast but still shows pleasing freshness. 16.5

Ridgeview Grosvenor 2011 – A classic, lemon-mineral and bready style with attractive autolytic notes. The acidity is a little high and it doesn’t quite have the refinement of some of the better blanc de blancs I’ve tasted, but it’s still an impressive wine. 16.5


Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2012 – Salmon pink with lively, fine bubbles and restrained aromas of wild red fruits. Well balanced with lovely red fruit flavours and a hint of biscuit. There is ripeness here and maybe a little more sugar than is necessary but it’s easy to like. 16.5

Henners Brut Rosé- Pale cherry with classic, restrained bread-like aromas. In the mouth there are some lovely nutty notes and yeasty character along with sour cherry fruit. Good stuff. 16.5

Upperton Erubesco 2010 – Cherry red. Attractive, bold and very bready. Leafy, ripe, cherried and spicy. 16.25

Hindleap 2011 – Very pale and almost no more than burnished gold in colour. Nice, orchard and red apple character with nutty, biscuity notes. The dosage is a little out of balance but it would be a good match for a ploughman’s lunch or a light curry. 16

Ridgeview Fitzrovia 2011 – Pale salmon, lively mousse. Nice delicate and floral, red berry style. Rather nice in an understated way though a little too dry and acidic. Otherwise elegant, bready and attractive. 16

Balfour Hush Heath 2010 – Very pale salmon. Light elegant bready and mineral aromas. Fresh and light-bodied, dry and crisp with citric acidity and some red berry notes. 16