English sparkling wine was our theme for the early July tasting and as the temperature gauge hit 35 degrees we sweltered through a fabulous selection of top class fizz from Hampshire, West Sussex and Dorset, assisted by some examples from Champagne, Franciacorta and Argentina.
English fizz is on the ascendant and the wines are regularly winning top awards in international wine competitions not only in their own categories but against top quality sparklers from around the world.
Hattingley Valley is not a name that rolls off the tongue but is creating a big stir in Alton, Hampshire. We tasted the classic cuvee, blanc de blancs and the phenomenal Kings cuvee – recently awarded 96 points in a Decanter tasting. The estate is predominantly planted with Chardonnay followed by Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. All the wines were elegant, well balanced and fresh, with the Kings Cuvee showing extra richness thanks to the barrique fermentation of the base wines.
We also tasted through an eclectic selection from Nyetimber. This estate, based near Horsham, has become the most important producer of fizz in the UK and now has 160 hectares under vine.
The 2007 from magnum was superb, the Rose 2009 was a delicious fresh and fruity example and the unusual demi-sec was a revelation. Sweet but not cloying and would have been perfect with some cheese or a fruit dessert.
Overall, everyuone marvelled at the quality – they are not cheap but definitely holding their own against some serious competition.