Wines of the week

(by peter & susie)

Jenkyn Place Brut 2009We’re lucky enough to be tasting quite a bit of English fizz at the moment.

Some of the wines getting us most excited are those that are new to the market – pre-releases if you like. It seems that there is a critical mass being reached in the UK wine industry, with many new and high quality vineyards coming on-stream and existing players upping their game, engendering a healthy competition and focus on quality.

Two English sparkling wines we have tasted recently have stood out in this context.

The first is the Jenkyn Place Brut 2009, a blend of mainly Chardonnay with 25% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier, grown not from us, in Bentley, Hampshire.

What impressed us most about this is the effortless harmony on display. Many English fizzes walk a tightrope of almost brutal acidity held in check by mollifying dosage (ie sugar) and/or rich nutty flavours of maturity.

Although this wine was definitely English in its brisk, orchard-fruit style, it managed a real vinosity and integration that was very refined. Put simply, this is easy-drinking but also classy English fizz.

I’m reliably informed that some 22 branches of Waitrose have the 2008 vintage but they currently moving onto the 2009. It costs £21.99. You can also find it in independents including Caviste, Bacchanalia, Christopher Piper, Auriol, Bentley, Berry Bros & Rudd, Stone Vine & Sun, Rollings Wine, Handford, Pimlico Cellars, Wine Pantry, Vinoteca, Wimbledon Wine Cellar, Imbibros and others.

Mayfield Expression Brut rose 2009The other wine, which we tasted a while back, is the Mayfield Expression Brut rosé 2009. (Disclosure: we are friends with Gerard and Jonica, who make this wine, the latter of whom also wrote a regular blog for us detailing the life and travails in their vineyard over the course of a year.)

It’s a lovely brisk style, well judged with plenty of juicy charm but also a characteristically English reserve about it. The only thing that jars is the colour, which is very deep for what is, relatively speaking, a fairly light and lifted style of fizz.

But no matter, this is a very impressive debut effort, another English wine to celebrate the swelling ranks of notable home-grown fizz. (Susie will also be reporting back soon from the annual ‘Judgement of Parson’s Green’ grand blind tasting of English fizz, which is always a fascinating insight into the progress of English sparkling wine.)