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Sparkling Wines

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Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2018 edition review of Value Champagne (see blue link below).

Alfred Gratien Brut Classique NV - December 2018 Decanter review

If exceptional had a name, it would be Champagne Alfred Gratien. Alfred Gratien Champagnes are handcrafted for guaranteed quality and consistency. A few miles away from Epernay’s bustling town centre, deep in the heart of a Champagne vineyard, are the Alfred Gratien Champagne cellars. It was here, on Rue Maurice Cerveaux, that Alfred Gratien set up his business and created his first cuvées in 1864. For over a century and a half, Alfred Gratien Champagnes have remained a family affair perpetuated by the expertise and know-how of their founder. For four generations, the Epernay-based Jaeger family have been handing down the trade of cellar master from father to son, ensuring the Alfred Gratien style lives on.

The pale yellow hue of this wine’s colour is complemented by its lively effervescence. The bubbles are small and quick to rise to a fine mousse. The nose is moderately intense yet complex. The sweet pastry, biscuit and orchard fruit notes are followed and enhanced by hints of citrus, white flowers and fresh butter. The initial taste is clean: this is a very silky and sparkling wine whose sugar content works well with its body. There is a certain chalky minerality and the texture is smooth. It is characterful without being overbearing. The finish is crisp, with a slight mineral undertone, and long at 6 to 8 seconds. It leaves an excellently balanced acidic aftertaste, with a sugar component that is undeniably pleasing on the palate.

Thi is an exemplary Brut Champagne, which places a great emphasis on the bubbles created in the wine. It has benefitted from its reserve wine content and its maturation in cellars. Superb complexity combines young aromas with notes gained through maturation in cellars.

Its balanced qualities mean it can be paired quite liberally. Avoid anything too salty, sugary, fatty or spicy, opting instead for balance. Ideal for your savoury or sweet-and-sour hors d’œuvre, and for apéritifs.

£36.60

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bellenda Prosecco San Fermo Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

These thoughts from the team at Bellenda sum them up perfectly. "We consider, believe, create: these three words constitute the synthesis of what Bellenda is all about, who we are who work there, our family, and our close bond with our land. We love exploring the vast world of sparkling wine. That is a world that holds an enormous fascination for us and enables us to express ourselves in so many ways: sparkling or semi-sparkling, with or without sediment, classic or Charmat method can be woven and combined together, depending on the fruit from the vineyard, on local traditions, or even on a simple desire to try one’s hand at something never before attempted."

Please click on the blue link below to see an excellent fiche technique for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bellenda.

Bellenda San Fermo Brut - fiche technique

£15.50

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 (1x 75cl)

Awarded 91 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition panel tasting  review of Prosecco Superiore/Conegliano Valdobbiadene (see blue link below).

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2017 - January 2019 Decanter review

In each bottle of Bisol Prosecco Superiore, the traditions of a family that has tended its vines in the Valdobbiadene area since 1542 are combined with the history of a landscape whose generosity is only matched by the difficulty of cultivating its steep, rocky hills. Each Bisol Prosecco Superiore has its own, unique identity which varies depending on the nature of the specific terroirs in which the grapes are grown. After all, the Glera grape, from which this type of wine is made, is particularly sensitive to variations in the soil and microclimate.

"Crede" is a dialect word for clay, which is a defining feature of the terrain in Valdobbiadene in which the grapes for this Prosecco Superiore are cultivated. These ancient slopes - at one time the seabed - were formed as the land slowly buckled and curved upwards, arranging the strata of the soil almost vertically.

To view a fiche technique / information sheet for this prosecco from the winemakers at Bisol, please click the blue link below.

Bisol Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore - fiche technique

£15.00

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 92 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

The Première Cuvée is a very personal interpretation of the Champagne region and is the flagship of the Bruno Paillard style. A top quality wine, the Première Cuvée has the ability to survive any harvest The blend is made usingonly the first pressing of the grapes to extract only the purest juice - Pinot Noir (45%), Chardonnay (33%) and Pinot Meunier (22%), part of which (20%) was in barrel for the first fermentation. This champagne is a blend of 25 vintages, dating back to 1985. Ageing takes place over a period of time that is always longer than the legal requirement; three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. 

The golden straw colour is indicative of the exclusive use of the first pressing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The primary aromas are of citrus - lime and grapefruit. Then the red fruits aromas start to appear - redcurrant, raspberry, morello cherries. When left to open up in the glass, the wine shows hints of dried fruits, which are sometimes exotic. The palate is lively and vivacious, thanks to a low dosage. The aromas on the nose are echoed in the mouth. There are primary flavours of citrus, almonds, and toasted bread, followed by redcurrant jelly but also dark fruits like cherry, fig and blackberry. As the wine opens up in the glass, and gets warmer, it expresses light plum and pear flavours. The palate is full, quite long with a very clean finish. The Premiere Cuvee champagne is an excellent aperitif. It matches divinely with cheese (Brie de Meaux, Camembert, aged salers), poultry and shellfish.

£38.55

Bruno Paillard Premiere Cuvee Rose NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 93 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their January 2019 edition article on changes in chefs de cave in Champagne  (see blue link below).

Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvee Rose NV - January 2019 Decanter review

Bruno Paillard Champagne is an independent, family-run house. Its exceptional vineyards are located in the heart of the Champagne region. The wines have a highly personal style characterized by stringent quality control at every stage of the process. They only use the first pressing of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, and each cru is produced separately in oak barrels or stainless steel tanks. The house was the first to indicate the date of disgorgement on its bottles.

A hymn to the bright delicacy of Pinot Noir, the Premiere Cuvee Rosé is named on account of its composition of only the first pressing. This multi-vintage rosé, made with Pinot Noir, is created in two ways: 1. White wine from Pinot Noir: after a quick pressing, and a fast separation of the skins, the juice is very pale and can be vinified as a white wine. 2. Red wine from Pinot Noir: is obtained by a prolonged maceration of the juice on the skins. A touch of Chardonnay brings the necessary vivacity to balance the fruits of Pinot Noir.

The blend is a first pressing of mainly Pinot Noir with some Chardonnay, the amount of which remains a secret. The reserve wines are a blend of 25 vintages, going back to 1985. The champagne is aged for three years sur lie, then a minimum of a further five months after disgorgement. This wine has a very low dosage, (labelled as Extra Brut) at less than 6g per litre. It is a very pure wine.

The pink copper colour with a hint of raspberry when young evolves to salmon while ageing. The fine bubbles are due to a strict selection of the best grapes, perfectly controlled temperature in the cellar and very long ageing. The initial aromas of redcurrant and red fruits evolve to morello cherry, wild strawberry and violet while breathing in the glass. A touch of lemon denotes the discrete presence of Chardonnay. With age, aromas tend towards dark fruits like dark cherry, fig and blackberry. The palate reveals red fruit captured at full freshness. The finish is bright and long.

Pale in colour yet with a distinctive hue. This Cuvee has finesse and purity but is very fine and fresh. With subtle cherries, strawberries and nice overall acidity.

£45.65

Cantina Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero, Lambrusco Di Grasparossa di Castelvetro NV (1x75cl)

Deep ruby red in colour with an aromatic nose, strongly reminiscent of fresh strawberries. The palate is richly soft, generously fruity and delightfully refreshing, offering ripe, concentrated red berry fruits such as cranberries, raspberries and strawberries, a fine, persistent mousse and a soft finish. Low acidity and very little tannin combine to create a deliciously fruit driven, thirst quenching wine.

£13.45

Cantina di Gambellara Monopolio Durello Spumante 2018 (1x75cl)

The 2017 vintage was awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter in their June 2019 feature, Weekday Wines (see blue link below).

Cantina Di Gambellara Monopolio Durello Spumante 2017 - June 2019 Decanter review

The Cantina di Gambellara was founded in 1947 and has nearly 300 members who farm 600 hectares. The co-op is based in a small denomination on the border between the provinces of Vicenza and Verona only a few miles east of Soave. Last year, this cantina merged with the Cantina dei Colli Vicentini (from whom we buy the Ca’ di Alte wines) and Alberto Marchisio is now responsible for winemaking.

The Durella grapes are an ancient autochthon variety grown in the Lessinia area. The vineyards are mainly located on high hills with a south sun-exposure. The soils here are of volcanic origin.

Mild temperatures and moderate rains accompanied the winter season. The beginning of the growth cycle in the vineyards was characterised by abundant rain, followed by a hot and dry period. A little bit of rain in the second half of August helped, as did a drop in temperatures. This allowed for perfect health in the grapes, making this 2018 vintage one of the best, if not the best, of the last 20 years.

First fermentation took place in steel autoclaves under controlled temperature. Second fermentation then took place at low temperatures in steel autoclaves with selected yeasts, according to the Charmat (tank) method.

100% Durella.

This wine is pale yellow in colour with delicate aromas of papaya and plums. On the nose, there are fresh notes of minerality and apple. The finish is fine and long.

£11.95

Casa Bianchi Brut Traditional Method NV (1x 75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their October 2016 edition review of Argentina (see blue link below).

Casa Bianchi Brut Traditional Method NV - October 2016 Decanter review

The Bianchi family winery was founded in 1928 by Italian immigrant Valentin Bianchi It now covers 350 hectares of vineyard, situated 750m above sea level in San Rafael, about 240km south of Mendoza city. This is a cooler area than Mendoza's major vineyard areas of Luján de Cuyo and Agrelo because it is further south, which helps the flavours and perfumes develop more gradually, resulting in more aromatic wines. The estate is now run by the third generation of the family and has undergone a gradual transformation in the past few years, modernising both the winery and the vinification processes. 

The grapes for the Bianchi Brut come from the Doña Elsa and Las Paredes vineyards, which are situated in the San Rafael zone of Mendoza at 730 to 790 metres above sea level.

60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir.

The grapes for this sparking wine were vinified in the purpose-built, sparkling wine facility constructed by Bianchi outside San Rafael. The wine is made according to the 'Traditional Method' of sparkling wine production. The must is fermented between 16° and 18°C. After fermentation it is aged on its lees for a further 12 months before disgorgement and release.

Bianchi Brut is an excellent value sparkling wine with an intense biscuit and fruit character on the nose and good richness on the palate. Fresh and clean, it finishes dry.

£14.30

Castillo Perelada Cava Brut Reserva NV (1x75cl)

The Perelada estate, an impressive fortress and palace that was previously owned by the Counts of Pereleda and a Carmelite monastery, was purchased in 1923 by Miguel Mateu, an active political and cultural ambassador of the time. Don Miguel revitalized the wine producing tradition of the estate records showed that there where vineyards planted in the Medieval period. He turned the estate into his own private cultural centre, building up the collections which would become the Castle museum which is today open to the public.

A blend of the three traditional Cava making grapes: Parellada (35%), Xarel·lo (45%), Macabeo (30%).

After primary fermentation, the wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 15 months before disgorging. Brilliant pale yellow colour with a generous stream of fine bubbles. The nose is clean and fruity with light yeasty notes from ageing. It is pleasantly bone dry, with a round and refreshing mouthfeel and nice flavour complexity.

See the link below for full details of the wine, in Parelada's own data sheet.

Castillo Perelada Cava Brut Reserva NV - fiche technique

This is a fine Cava, and that offers markedly better quality than its price might indicate.

£12.70

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs NV (1x75cl)

Awarded 94 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below)...

Charles Heidsieck Blanc De Blancs NV - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. Founded in 1851 by the man who would become known as ‘Champagne Charlie’, this family-owned house is the smallest of the Grandes Marques. Their size, and commitment to excellence, has been underpinned by a winemaking team that between them have been named 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge 15 times.

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs combines several of the best Chardonnay crus from three Champagne sub regions. It is made from a majority of crus from the Côte des Blancs (Oger, Vertus), completed by the Montagne de Reims (Villers-Marmery, Trépail, Vaudemange) and the very special cru of Montgueux in the northern part of the Aube, near Troyes.

After the first fermentation, the wines were racked to separate the lees and then underwent malolactic fermentation to soften the natural acidity and to enrich their texture. This 100% Chardonnay blend comprises 25% reserve wines with an average age of five years. All the reserve wines were aged in stainless steel vats on their fine lees. In order to achieve depth and complexity required by the house style, the Blanc de Blancs was aged for four years in Charles Heidsieck’s chalk cellars (The Crayeres), much longer than the legal requirement of 15 months.

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs is a pale, crystalline gold colour. The nose is characterised by aromas of mature Chardonnay; white peach, candied citrus with notes of lime, honeysuckle and fresh hazelnuts giving way to subtle hints of tangerine and lemon. On the palate, the Blanc de Blancs bears all the hallmarks of a Charles Heidsieck Champagne: boldness, generosity and elegance. Embracing yet light, it displays appealing mineral, slightly salty, iodine notes, and has a silky, creamy texture – unexpected from a Chardonnay – that leaves a lasting impression.

£58.75

Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millenaires 2004 (1x 75cl)

Awarded a Platinum & Best in Show medal and 98 points at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards (click link for details).

For other 2019 DWWA winners, click here.

Awarded 96 points and Outstanding status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their September 2018 edition producer profile of Charles Heidsieck (see blue link below)...

Charles Heidsieck Blanc Des Millenaires 2004 - Sept 2018 Decanter review

Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired Champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. Founded in 1851 by the man who would become known as ‘Champagne Charlie’, this family-owned house is the smallest of the Grandes Marques. Their size, and commitment to excellence, has been underpinned by a winemaking team that between them have been named 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' at the International Wine Challenge 15 times.

Only Chardonnay is used in the blend of this exceptionally textured cuvée. The grapes are grown on vineyards found with five major Crus from the Côte des Blancs, meticulously chosen for their ability to evolve as well as for their ability to express their full richness once fully mature: Oger for its unctuousness and structure, Mesnil-sur-Oger for balance, Avize for its minerality, Cramant for its complexity and Vertus for its freshness and floral notes.

2004 was an exceptional vintage for quality and quantity. Wines from this vintage are structured, well-balanced and have exceeded all expectations.

In the 19th century, convinced that they would be an ideal place to age wine, Charles Heidsieck decided to purchase chalk cellars dating back to Gallo-Roman times, located in the historic heart of Reims. This audacious decision turned out to be a stroke of genius since these cellars proved to be a peaceful haven where the humidity and 10°C temperature remain constant. An extraordinary ageing period of almost 11 years, gives this 100% Chardonnay cuvée an unparallelled complexity and texture.

On the nose, the Blanc des Millénaires 2004 opens with elegant notes of lemon, apple blossoms, salted butter and almonds along with a toasted, buttery nuance of crème anglaise. The palate is full of fresh citrus flavours giving the wine a taut crispness. Still youthful and taut with an elegant mousse.

£150.15

Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV (1x 75cl)

Established in 1985, Cloudy Bay was one of the first five wine makers to venture into Marlborough. At the time, it was almost an unimaginable place to set-up a vineyard but Cloudy Bay’s founder, David Hohnen, was convinced of its potential to produce great wine and invested in the best land of the region. The winery was named after Cloudy Bay, a body of water explorer Captain James Cook found during his voyage to New Zealand in 1770. His discovery coincided with flooding in the region, which washed large amounts of sediment into the sea. Noticing the water’s opaque appearance, Cook christened the area Cloudy Bay. 

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes used in the production of Pelorus are sourced from a combination of vineyards located within the Wairau Valley. They have free-draining gravel based soils with shallow sandy-loam horizons.

All Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are pressed without crushing. Juice is given a short period of settling before racking and inoculation with a pure strain of Montrachet yeast. The base wines are fermented and aged in a mixture of stainless steel tanks, large oak vats and small French oak barrels. Following a spontaneous malolactic fermentation the wines are left to age on lees for a further eight months prior to blending each November. This chardonnay predominant blend is put on tirage using prise de mousse yeast the following February and subsequently allowed to attain a minimum of two years lees ageing in the bottle before disgorgement.

Jim White, Technical Director at Cloudy Bay says the following of Pelorus: "We are not after big, bright, loud flavours; what we are after is pastel colour flavours; apple skin, flowers, light citrus. Elegance meets complexity in a melange of crispness and toasted brioche."

Pelorus is a  fresh, aperitif style sparkling wine with apple crisp flavours, underpinned by nutty yeast complexity derived from two years bottle maturation on lees. This is a sparkling wine that manages to subtly combine fresh and fruity Chardonnay notes with rich and savoury hints of Pinot Noir.

£22.80

Cremant de Bourgogne Grande Cuvee Veuve Ambal NV (1x75cl)

Veuve Ambal has 230 hectares of vineyards in Burgundy and is one of the most prestigious wineries in the region. All of the company's domaines are managed using sustainable methods. The use of specific cultivation techniques aims to reduce the use of treatments by optimising their position and efficiency.  This approach is an indication of Veuve Ambal's desire to reduce its impact on nature. These environmental concerns are at the core of the company's ethos, from the vineyards right up to the vinification of the wines.

The domaines are located in 6 different terroirs. This diversity brings richness and aromatic complexity to the wines produced. This Crémant de Bourgogne draws on the unique characteristics of each Burgundian terroir, just as an artist uses his palette of colours in order to magnify the beauty of his painting.

See blue link below for the fiche technique/technical and tasting note from the winemakers at Veuve Ambal.

Cremant De Bourgogne Grande Cuvee Veuve Ambal NV - fiche technique

40% Pinot Noir,  30% Chardonnay, 10% Gamay, 10% Aligoté.

Predominantly a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this Burgundy Crémant offers remarkable complexity, doubly so at the price. It is full, well-structured and balanced on the palate. Aromas of red and citrus fruits dominate, but the nose has hints of flowers and butter too.

£14.95

Cuvee Prestige Millesime, Champagne Gobillard 2012 (1x75cl)

Hard to believe today, perhaps, but the 1930s were a tough time in Champagne. Only the most famous names were enjoying success and prosperity, while smaller producers and growers suffered in relative poverty. All of which makes Gervais Gobillard’s decision to branch out on his own, buying two hectares of vines in Hautvillers in 1933, particularly courageous. This is the true heart of Champagne. Thierry lives about 10 metres from the grave of Dom Pérignon, and decades of hard work have secured 26 hectares of vines, much of it Premier Cru. Grapes from carefully selected growers are also sourced, yielding a range of Champagnes that accentuate brightness, minerality and elegance over power and richness.

The grapes for this cuvée are selected from old vines with low production, which have the the best exposure, located mid-slope on the chalk. The base wines from this first plot selection, more concentrated, will then undergo a blind taste test which is very rigorous before it is included in the cuvee that will become the flagship of this Champagne House. 

This champagne is a blend of 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir.

This fine, vintage 'grower Champagne' is aged for at least four years before it is ready for release, the extended time on the lees creates complex tertiary aromas of dried fruits and hazelnuts that lead to an elegant palate of citrus blossom, greengage and honey. It is a connoisseur's wine, made with hand selected premier cru grapes, delivering the ultimate expression of premium Champagne, a style that will work perfectly as a distinguished food match or sophisticated aperitif.

£33.20

Deutz Brut Classic Champagne (1x75cl)

Awarded 90 points and Highly Recommended status by Decanter (www.decanter.com) in their December 2018 edition review of Value Champagne (see blue link below).

Deutz Brut Classic Champagne - December 2018 Decanter review

A founding member of Champagne’s prestigious Grandes Marques houses, Champagne Deutz of Aÿ, France, has been making distinctive champagnes marked by finesse, elegance and complexity since 1838. The house has upheld the traditions of fine Champagne making handed down through five generations.

Champagne Deutz owns 42 hectares of vineyards, which supply 20% of its grapes. The rest of the grapes are sourced from growers, many of whom have been working with Deutz for generations. Grapes are harvested from the Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, and Vallée de la Marne, with over 80% of the grapes coming from vineyards that are rated Premier or Grand Cru. Harvest is usually around mid September and is done by hand, with pickers paid by the hour rather than the kilo, to ensure they do not compromise on the quality of the fruit that they harvest. Deutz farms all its vineyards according to the principals of la lutte raisonnée.

All the grapes in this blend were pressed and vinified at Deutz’s state of the art winery in Aÿ, with each individual parcel being vinified in its own separate tank. Using Coquard presses, only the free-run juice and first pressing was used for this wine. Following alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the vin clairs were tasted and blended in the Spring following the harvest, with the final assemblage happening in June. At Deutz anywhere between 25% and 40% of the blend will be reserve wines. The wine was then aged for a minimum of 3 years on the lees, and a further 6 months following dégorgement before release.

The Brut Classic represents the distinctive house style of elegance and finesse, which has made Deutz one of the most respected of all Champagne houses. The colour of the wine is an intense gold with fine effervescence that signifies long maturation on the lees. On the nose, the wine initially displays notes of hawthorn and white flowers, which are followed by aromas of toast, marzipan and ripe pears. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied and elegant with the freshness of Chardonnay and richness of Pinot Noir. Overall, the wine is well-rounded with a fruity finish. The Brut Classic is an ideal aperitif, served with simple canapés, smoked salmon, crab pâté or Sole a la Meunière.

£41.60
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