Fizz – autumn collection

Image

See this guide to our autumn collections for how to get the most from our regional assortments of recent wine reviews.  

With a grand total of more than 170 tasting notes, this is one of biggest collections, from fizzes that cost under £7 a bottle to some of the most luxurious bottlings on the market.

Tasting notes are split into two groups: Champagne, and all the rest. Within that, we've divided them up by colour and then in descending score order. GV denotes wines which struck us as especially good value when we tasted them.

CHAMPAGNE
WHITE

Pol Roger, Réserve Brut NV Champagne

33% Pinot Noir, 34% Chardonnay and 33% Pinot Meunier, The Brut Réserve blend is traditionally composed from around 30 still base wines, from different vineyard sites. The base wine for this blend is from 2008 with reserve wine from 2007 and 2006. Clarification of the must was at 8°C. The second fermentation took place in cellars beneath Épernay at 9°C. All hand-riddled, the youngest component will have a minimum age of 3 years. Winemakers Pol Roger family members and Cellar Master Dominique Petit. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. TA 6.9 g/l, pH 3.15, RS 9.65 g/l, Dosage 9.0 g/l. DWWA 2013 Gold Medal.
Delicious biscuit and autumn fruit character – seems a bit sweeter than in the past? Developing, oxidative notes on the nose, but nothing worrying. Exemplary stuff. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2018
£37.50 Wine Society, £38.99 Waitrose
17

Charles Heidsieck, Blanc des Millénaires Brut 1995 Champagne

This fully mature wine still has quite a bit to give (just like the 1985 which seemed to be immortal). Tight-knit and deep flavoured. Quite intellectual though not excessively dry. Worth seeking out, if you can afford it.
Drink
2005
2020
RRP £145, £107.88 Exel Wines of Scotland
18

Charles Heidsieck, Brut 2000 Champagne

Both zesty and satisfying. Deep flavoured and serious but not at all heavy. Well done, though presumably made by the old regime.
Drink
2012
2017
RRP £70, £60 Haynes Hanson & Clark
17

Charles Heidsieck, Réserve Brut NV Champagne

This cuvée in new bottle is presumably spearheading this champagne brand's zoom upmarket. I thought the wines were always very well made but somehow it never achieved star status. The new owner has other ideas. This wine, based on 2007 but with 40% of reserve wines up to 10 years old, is noticeably firm and dense. Mouthfilling champagne with a hint of spiciness. One to watch, though I'll be looking out for leftover, much cheaper, bottles from the old regime too.
Drink
2012
2016
RRP £42, £40 Haynes Hanson & Clark
17

Dosnon & Lepage, Récolte Noire Brut NV Champagne

Oak fermented Pinot Noir. Very pale copper colour. Floral nose with hints of damp plaster. Excessively dry wine with very substantial presence on the palate. Most unusual. Massive personality per penny. 
Drink
2013
2016
£32.95 Roberson
16

Thiénot, Cuvée Stanislas Blanc de Blancs Brut 2005 Champagne

100% Chardonnay from grand cru vineyards in the Côtes des Blancs. Pale gold with a fine mousse. White grapefruit and honey, very pure, like liquid yuzu lemon. There's a creamy sensuous texture to this champagne, and although the core is deep and flush with rich fruit, the acidity etches a lace-like crystalline quality to the finish. Feels very complete. (TC) 12.5%
Drink
2012
2019
£62 The Wine Library
17

Thiénot, Cuvée Alain Thiénot Brut 2002 Champagne

60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir from estate-grown grapes. Firm golden colour. Very powerful spicy nose – almost a hint of oak! Broad shouldered and confident, with a strong grapefruit-pith bitterness. A patina of toasted hazelnut over rich lemon fruit. Some sweetness on the finish, which seems to be a small falter in its bold graceful stride. It does fall away a little more quickly that I'd like. But there is still a lot there and provides a glassful of pleasure. (TC) 12.5%
Drink
2012
2019
£72.60 Hedonism
17 -

Delamotte, Brut 1964 Champagne

Magnum. Recently disgorged. No dosage. Very deep greenish gold. Definite age on the nose – even some attractive slight oxidation! Yet very clean and refreshing. A real conundrum of a wine – impossible to guess blind! Really interesting.
Drink
2013
2018
17

Delamotte, Brut 1983 Champagne

Magnum. Recently disgorged. Strong greenish hue. Smells of boiled sweets/ hint of pear drop. I certainly wouldn’t guess its great age – but I'm not sure I prefer it to the young Delamotte wines. Seems a bit raw and simple.
Drink
2013
2015
16

Salon, Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs Brut 1999 Champagne

Current vintage. 2002 expected next April. Greenish tinge. Dense and vibrant on the nose. Very lifted and flirtatious though I'm not 100% certain I would put the correct price on it blind. Racy, wild flowers. A distinctive champagne.

12%
Drink
2011
2019
£220 Corney & Barrow
17.5

Delamotte, Blanc de Blancs Brut 2004 Champagne

Released today. From Le Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Cramant. Seven years on yeast.
Complex nose though still very lively. Seems a tad fragile on the palate. I think I would just as soon drink the current (2006-based) regular Blanc de Blancs NV. 12%
Drink
2013
2018
£47.50 Corney & Barrow
17

Delamotte, Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne

Grand Cru Chardonnay from le Mesnil, Oger, Avize. 48 months on yeast. Signature of the house. Base is 2006.
Quite a bit of age on the nose. Racy and quite delicate on the palate. Well made – just the right quality of fizz. Quite long. 12%
Drink
2012
2016
£37.95 Corney & Barrow
17

Delamotte, Brut NV Champagne

Base of 2008. 55% Chardonnay, and all the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is Grand Cru. There is a tiny bit of Pinot Meunier. 36 months on yeast.
Quite complex nose and very fresh palate. Feather-like impact on the palate. Definitely not overassertive! Impressive length though. 12%
Drink
2013
2015
£26.95 Corney & Barrow
16.5

Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Collection Brut 1959 Champagne

Disgorged February 2013. Fully fermented in oak. Mid gold. Very expressive, coffee, milk, smoke and biscuit. Has crossed the flavour threshold from champagne to Burgundy – though the mousse is still very present. Very lengthy finish. Biscuits, slight bitter orange. Splendidly indulgent and rich. (RH)
Drink
1978
2019
18

Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Collection Brut 1990 Champagne

From magnums, disgorged 2004. 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. Pale gold. Very toasty and smoky. Creamy and opulent, with a hint of bitterness on the finish. Powerful. Lovely smooth mousse. Dominated by the strong autolytic character – a distinctive style that is more sippable than drinkable. Quite delicious aromatic strength. (RH)
Drink
2000
2020
17

Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Collection Brut 1996 Champagne

Disgorged February 2013. 50% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier. Really toasty and mushroomy. Entrancing scent. Dried fruits and loads of wheaty biscuit character. Fades rather quickly, but the flavours are delicious, and they show lovely maturity. (RH)
Drink
2002
2016
17

René Jolly, Éditio Brut NV Champagne

2005 vintage, but sold as NV. 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. Aged under cork, not crown cap. Lovely bready aroma. Cream, soft stone fruit palate. Short finish. Pretty basic for the price I'm afraid. (RH)
Drink
2013
2017
£95 RRP
16

Robert Barbichon, Cuvée Réserve Brut NV Champagne

Ripe fruit with some redcurrant notes – authentic Pinot Noir flavour (though it is certainly white, not rosé). More interesting than their Blanc de Blancs. Short finish though. (RH)
Drink
2013
2016
£27.65 RRP
16

Les Vignobles Champenois, Christian de Montaille Brut NV Champagne

60% Pinot Meunier, 40% Pinot Noir. Address is Champillon. Pale lemon yellow. Some development on the nose. Pretty watery on the palate but clean and fresh enough – and a tad more interesting than Wine Rack's bargain-basement French Connection champagne.  12%
Drink
2013
2014
£18.99 Wine Rack
15.5

Les Roches Blanches, French Connection Brut NV Champagne

Imported by Bottle Green from this Dizy producer. Dizy prices certainly. Smells very youthful and simple. Marked acidity. I might well take this for an English fizz blind. Fast fade but no excess sweetening. GV at the Christmas price but it's not doing the reputation of champagne any good at all. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2014
£15.99 (£11.99 at Christmas) Wine Rack
15

Thiénot, Cuvée Garance Brut 2006 Champagne

Creamy, full and with a distinctly floral fragrance. There's a real lemon-curd curve on the palate, as if someone spooned a voluptuous dollop on my tongue. Fine tingling mousse. Not incredibly long but beautifully fresh and has a good way to go. (TC) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2016
16.5

R C Lemaire, Cuvée Désiré Brut 2006 Champagne

100% Chardonnay. Wow – creamy, mature and very vinous. Evokes Burgundy. Aha, nine months in oak will be why! Seven years of cellaring before release. Really serious and developed. Very good. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
17.5

R C Lemaire, Cuvée Trianon Brut NV Champagne

60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Nicely balanced, very smooth mousse. Ripe fruit – very different to their other cuvées, and this producer clearly enjoys making lots of different styles. Great depth and grain. (RH)
Drink
2014
2020
17

Bauget-Jouette, Cuvée Jouette Brut NV Champagne

50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Based on two vintages. This has the depth and concentration missing from the 2008 Blanc de Blancs. Lovely freshness and fragrance. Pretty primary yet – worth keeping. (RH)
Drink
2014
2020
17

A Bergère, Brut Nature NV Champagne

Very similar flavour profile to their other cuvées, but the drier finish gives a certain bitterness that detracts from the balance a bit. (RH)
Drink
2012
2016
15.5

A Bergère, Réserve Brut NV Champagne

65% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier. Light, clean, lovely restraint. Dry but ripe. Very crowd-pleasing. Well made. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
16 +

Herbert Beaufort, Brut NV Champagne

This Pinot Noir dominant champagne was created in the traditional method and underwent no malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged for 24 to 30 months prior to release. Pinot Noir led champagnes are typical of the region this example hails from, Bouzy.
Broad, perfumed nose. Very zesty and satisfying. Still bracing acidity. Lots of building blocks here, even if they are not yet quite in the right place. Promising. 12%
Drink
2014
2018
£32 Marks & Spencer
16

Didier Ducos, Absolu Meunier Brut NV Champagne

The Didier vineyards are located between the coast and the white Marne valley in the hills south of Epernay. Nicolas Didier avoids using unnecessary treatments in the vineyards, which are planted on clay and limestone soils and benefit from a southerly exposure. The grapes for this blend come from three vineyards, one planted in 1962 by Nicolas' grandfather, one planted by his father in 1987, and one which he planted himself in 2001. Harvest was carried out by hand in September, and on arrival at the winery the grapes were pressed. Traditional vinification was practised in the production of this champagne, which aged in the natural cold of the Didier cellars prior to release.
Wild flowers and summer fruits on the nose. The acidity seems a little harsh but useful for wine students? Still quite youthful. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2016
£36 Marks & Spencer
16

Lionel Carreau, Cuvée Préembulles Brut NV Champagne

The 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Blanc Vrai grapes used in the blend for this champagne were sourced from parcels in Bondonnots, Dalivard and Parmailles respectively. Lionel Carreau works his vineyards on the principles of lutte raisonnée, eschewing pesticides and insecticides. During manual harvest the grapes were hand selected for quality. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and the wine was left here to mature for nine months at a maximum temperature of 13°C. The champagne was aged on lees for a minimum of three years before disgorgement. 
Note that exotic 20% grape! Pale greenish gold. Smells almost like a wine rather than a champagne. Very clean and fresh. Sort of like Chablis + CO2. Very refreshing certainly. Pure rather than complex. 12%
Drink
2012
2015
£36 Marks & Spencer
16.5

Oudinot, Louis Chaurey Brut NV Champagne

This champagne is made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay grapes sourced from the heart of Champagne. Following harvest and pressing, fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with 100% malolactic fermentation. A slow secondary fermentation followed, and the champagne was then maturated on lees in underground cellars at 10°C for a minimum of 24 months prior to bottling.
Clean and fresh with an undertow of serious fruit. Quite broad and well balanced. The acidity does not stick out. No great bargain but very reliable. 12%
Drink
2013
2016
£32 Marks & Spencer
16

De St-Gall, Blanc de Blancs Brut Premier Cru NV Champagne

The Chardonnay grapes for this champagne were carefully selected from only classified Premier Cru and Grand Cru villages, where the vineyards are planted at an approximate density of 7,000 vines per hectare. Following harvest the grapes underwent static debourbage for 12 hours. Fermentation with selected yeasts then took place in thermo-regulated vats at 20°C. Prior to release the champagne was matured for two to three years on lees in the Union Champagne cellars.
Fruit smells very slightly well-worn and there's some strong cooking apple acidity on the palate. Not exactly fine. 12.5%
Drink
2012
2014
£29 Marks & Spencer
15.5

Oudinot, Brut NV Champagne

This champagne was made from chardonnay grapes grown mainly in the Côte des Blancs area. The vineyards here grow on limestone slopes and benefit from the influence of the Atlantic ocean, which tempers the cool climate. A blend of 100% Chardonnay grapes, this champagne was vinified in stainless steel tanks with 100% malolactic fermentation. A slow secondary fermentation followed, and maturation took place in underground cellars at 10°C. The champagne was then aged on less for a minimum of 24 months before release. 
Good biscuity nose and very fresh fruit on the palate. Pretty GV even if not that complex on the palate. I don’t think there's a great hurry to drink this.
12%
Drink
2013
2016
£25 Marks & Spencer
16

Thiénot, Brut NV Champagne

Cool steely lemon nose. Quite sharp and brisk and lemony. No-nonsense champagne. Definitely an appetite-whetter rather than a food wine. (TC) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2014
15.5

Bruno Paillard, NPU Nec Plus Ultra Brut 1999 Champagne

A British journalist, during a conversation in the mid eighties, told Bruno, 'we love your brut but you need to make a special cuvée'. Made only from grand cru vineyards (Bouzy, Verzenay, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger) and only in exceptional years – so far 1990, 1995, 1996 and 1999. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, first pressing only, a mixture of barrel and stainless steel. 12 years on lees. Dosage 4 g/l and then a long post-disgorging ageing to get the balance back – 18 months. Alice Paillard suggests it's a wine that is best given some time in the glass – needs more aeration than the Blanc de Blancs.
Golden tinge. Sweeter, deeper, more generous nose than the Blanc de Blancs. Deep and commanding, rich and resonant, like the long low note of a cello. Clove. Orange peel. A radically different wine to the Blanc de Blancs, wearing the patina of time like a burnish. Very leesy and bready and rich. (TC) 12%
Drink
2014
2019
18

Bruno Paillard, Blanc de Blancs Brut 2002 Champagne

From two grand cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs: Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Oger was the first vineyard Bruno Paillard bought and tends to produce more fruity, aromatic and orange-flavoured wines. Mesnil gives strength and generosity. More than 10 years maturation on lees. Disgorged in October 2012 and according to Alice Paillard (the only one of four children to go into the business) it could use another six months in bottle. Dosage 5 gl. All their vintage wines are aged for a long period hence the late release. For the labels, they choose a word that they feel sums the wine up, then get a local artist to put that word onto paper. 2002 was a compromise between her father and her. He said: floral. She said: vertical. The artist is working on a project to renovate the stained glass windows of a local Jesuit school in Reims, hence the molecular broken-glass style of the artwork.
Smell the chalk! Oysters shells and saline, massively mineral. Like crushed powdered lemon stone. Zinging. Electric tension. Very architectural and cool – an icy beauty. With time in glass, touches of orange blossom and hints of honey. Really transformed by food – the lean and linear lemon broadens and deepens to satsuma and fennel. Still salty. A wonderful wine. (TC) 12%
Drink
2012
2019
18

Deutz, Brut 2006 Champagne

Current vintage. TA 10 g/l acid and 10 g/l dosage. My favourite. Dense and fresh. Very fresh. Putty.
Drink
2013
2020
17.5

Bruno Paillard, Première Cuvée Brut NV Champagne

The wine that the house was created around. Back in 1985, Bruno Paillard wanted minerality, freshness, less dosage, not the oxidative yeasts that so many others were using. 45% Pinot Noir, 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay. The wine comes from the first 50 cl that you can extract from a kilogram of grapes. Grapes from the heart of champagne region plus selection of vintages: each and every vintage since 1985. 35 different terroirs. Anything from 35-51% reserve wines. Paillard was one of the first houses to put the disgorging date and have since 1985. This is in bottle for eight months after disgorging. Lemony creamy nose. Tight and sharp and lemony and a wonderful mineral backbone. 10 months disgorged. Structured and overlaid with the lightest of floral white-blossom veil. (TC)
Drink
2013
2015
16.5

Ruinart, Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne

The blend is 100% Chardonnay from various years (20-25% of which are wines reserved from the two previous years). Hand-picked, fermentation in temperature-regulated stainless-steel fermenters, full malolactic fermentation, dosage 9 g/l.
Gentle texture but it seems a little softer and sweeter than the regular NV. Pleasant rather than thrilling. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
£52.95 Jeroboams
16

Ruinart, R de Ruinart Brut NV Champagne

40% Chardonnay, 57% Pinot Noir and 3% Pinot Meunier, 20-25% of which are wines reserved from the two previous years. Hand-picked, fermentation in temperature-regulated stainless-steel fermenters, full malolactic fermentation, dosage 9 g/l.
Bready nose with some real interest. Solid stuff – something to get your teeth into, in a good way. Very clean and neat and tastes as though it had quite a bit of age on lees. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2016
£44.95 Jeroboams
17

Joseph Perrier, Cuvée Royale Brut NV Champagne

35% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier. Classic first fermentation in stainless-steel temperature-controlled vessels followed by malolactic fermentation and cold stabilisation before blending. Second fermentation in the bottle before ageing for minimum three years on the lees before disgorgement.
Not much nose and pretty stolid and chewy on the palate. Astringent now. 12%
Drink
2014
2016
£27.95 Jeroboams
15.5

Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Brut 2004 Champagne

Smoky, mineral, really convincing and classy. Not the longest finish – but the flavour is very tasty on the mid-palate, and reflects very well on the quality control of the brand. (RH)
Drink
2012
2022
16.5

Moët & Chandon, Impérial Brut NV Champagne

From magnum. Definitely more flavour concentration than from the bottle poured alongside – not much more autolysis, but there is a proper broadness to the palate. (RH)
Drink
2013
2016
16

Krug, Brut 2000 Champagne

So much better than rosé! Proper, genuine yeasty aromatic development. Caramel, toffee, dense and broad and heavy. Rich – a delicious heavyweight. Gorgeously developed nose – really delivers a lot. (RH)
Drink
2012
2022
17.5

Dom Pérignon, Oenotheque Brut 1995 Champagne

Disgorged 2008. Stunning nose, and absolutely electric palate. So serious, so sophisticated – up there with the best. Brioche, smoke, apple, spice – take your pick. This is exemplary mature champagne, and the strength of the vintage shows. (RH)
Drink
2010
2020
18.5

Dom Pérignon, Brut 2004 Champagne

Tremendous biscuity yeastiness – they’ve done a great job with the instant complexity and fragrance. The body is a bit lighter and less lengthy than the 2002. Fantastic smoky, refined tender nose. Delicious – but not (yet?) among their best. (RH)
Drink
2015
2024
17 ++

P & C Heidsieck, Waitrose Special Reserve Brut 2004 Champagne

60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from vignerons with excellent relationships with PCH. First fermentation took place in stainless steel vats with temperature control. Bottled in 2005 and rested on lees for 36 months in the cellars. Winemaker Régis Camus at P&C Heidsieck. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. TA 4.8 g/l, pH 3.10, RS 12.0 g/l. DWWA 2013 Gold Medal, IWSC 2013 Silver Outstanding Medal, IWC 2013 Silver Medal and DWWA 2013 Gold Medal.
Dense and very appetising with great personality. Lively. Well done! Worth looking to see when this is on special offer. Long and dry. Apples. 12%
Drink
2013
2017
£30.99 Waitrose
16.5

Ayala, Majeur Brut NV Champagne

45% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Meunier. Ayala was purchased in 2005 by the Bollinger family group. Ayala has benefited from a substantial investment programme, defining the elegant and always low-dosage style of the Ayala range. Ayala is also now benefiting from being able to source its grapes from Bollinger’s ownership of 163 ha of Premier and Grand cru vineyards and long term contracts held by Bollinger with many of the Champagne region’s top growers. This wine has spent more than 2.5 years on its lees in cellars, and rested for 3 months after disgorgement. Winemaker Caroline Latrive. TA 4.3 g/l, pH 3.11, RS 8.5 g/l.
Putty and great balance. Nothing to object to … smoky, pungent finish. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2016
£29.99 Waitrose
16

Burtin, Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne

100% Chardonnay in a cuvée from Maison Burtin. Fruit comes from 6 villages (Mesnil sur Oger, Cuis, Cramant, Oger, Fontaine-Denis and La Celle), using only juice from first pressings. Based on 2008 vintage, mise en bouteille 2009. Winemaker Cédric Thiebault. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. TA 4.8 g/l, pH 3.10, RS 12. g/l. IWSC 2013 Gold Outstanding Medal.
Burtin, the own label specialists. Clean and respectable but no real personality. Ticks the boxes. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
£24.99 Waitrose
15.5

Alexandre Bonnet, Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV Champagne

100% Pinot Noir from Alexandre Bonnet’s own vineyards around Les Riceys in the Aube. Only first pressings used. Approximately 3 years on lees, plus 3 – 4 months in bottle after disgorgement (date on foil). Based on 2009 vintage with 30% of 2007/08 reserve wine. Winemaker Alain Pailley. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. TA 4.8 g/l, pH 3.04, RS 11.0 g/l. IWSC 2013 Gold Medal.
Lifted and youthful and a bit simple. Rustic. Hard work! 12.2%
Drink
2014
2016
£21.99 Waitrose
15

Duval-Leroy, Waitrose Brut NV Champagne

Based on the 2010 harvest, this is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay from new supplier Duval-Leroy. The grapes were sourced from 25 – 30 crus where enlightened viticulture is employed. The Pinots were chosen on the basis of the elegance, texture and fruit character that they bring to the cuvée, whilst the use of reserve wine adds complexity. Classic Champagne pressing with very light pressure to preserve the purity of juice, and the retention of only the cuvées, followed by a natural settling lasting 12 – 18 hours. 1st fermentation took place at 18 °C for 7 – 10 days, 2nd ferment took 4 weeks in bottle and the wine was aged on lees for around 24 months in the famous ‘crayères’ at a constant temperature of 11 °C. Winemaker Sandrine Logette-Jardin. TA 4.65 g/l, pH 3.12, RS 9.0 g/l. IWC 2013 Gold Medal and IWSC 2013 Silver Medal.
Light, delicate but with great breadth and interest for short term drinking. GV 12.5%
Drink
2012
2014
£19.99 Waitrose
16

Agrapart et Fils, Les 7 Crus Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne

From the seven villages where Agrapart owns vines, initially aged in old oak barrels
Complex, well-settled nose and lightly soft on the finish but with lots of interest on the way. Grapefruit peel on the finish after much throatwarming. 12%
Drink
2012
2016
£31 The Wine Society
17

ROSÉ

Charles Heidsieck, Réserve Rosé Brut NV Champagne

The blend has 20% reserve wines that are younger than in the white Brut Réserve NV. It's a deep bronze colour and is more serious and solid than most rosés. Truly mouthfilling and superior, but then so is the price.
Drink
2013
2015
£55 RRP
16.5

Deutz, Rosé Brut NV Champagne

One of the most impressive non-vintage pink champagnes I have come across recently. Good dry finish. Pale rose red with real solid matter on the palate.
Drink
2013
2015
17

Delamotte, Rosé Brut NV Champagne

80% Pinot Noir with 20% Chardonnay – so a vin de saignée. Unusually. Maximum ageing on lees is two years.
Pale rose copper colour. Not very fizzy. Round – relatively low acidity. A bit soft. 12%
Drink
2013
2014
£39.95 Corney & Barrow
15.5

Moët & Chandon, Grand Vintage Collection Rosé Brut 1976 Champagne

Disgorged June 2002. 65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir. Pale colour – showing very little colouration, considering the age. Saline, salt, croissants, beautifully attractive and profoundly complex. Dry and textural and long. Has those bewitching scents that only come from long maturity. (RH)
Drink
1988
2018
18

Canard Duchêne, Charles VII Grande Cuvée Rosé Brut NV Champagne

Pale pretty pink with a tinge of apricot. Light red fruit aromas with a subtle, very attractive, hint of mushroom and damp earth. Packed with tangy fruit – pink grapefruit and nectarine, and then a very gentle, almost not there, undertow of leaf mould. Delicious, refined, and with more complexity than most rosé champagnes. (TC)
12.5%
Drink
2013
2016
17

R C Lemaire, Rosé de Saignée Brut NV Champagne

Very deep colour. Up to 72 hours maceration. Cherry fruit – not especially typical for champagne. Good ripeness and bold fragrance. Appreciably different from the norm. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
16.5

Thiénot, Rosé Brut NV Champagne

Pale pink. Quite a delicate frothy mousse. Very dry and lean with just a hint of nectarine and crisp apple. Tight and almost leafy/green on the finish. (TC) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
16

Bruno Paillard, Première Cuvée Rosé Brut NV Champagne

Mostly Pinot Noir with a touch of Chardonnay. Three years on lees and dosage 6 g/l. Delicate, dry, fragrant, almost dried rose petals. Nose quite closed. More like a white wine, with earth and depth. (TC)
Drink
2013
2014
16.5

Ruinart, Rosé Brut NV Champagne

Blend constructed on a base of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, mostly classified as Premiers Crus with 20-25% of which are wines reserved from the two previous years. Hand-picked, fermentation in temperature-regulated stainless-steel fermenters, full malolactic fermentation, dosage 9 g/l. For the red wine, short maceration and light extraction.
Also in the distinctive Ruinart bulbous flask. Very pale rose pink. A hint of some bottle age and then quite marked acidity. Definitely better than most rosés but not as dry and firm as Deutz's. 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
£52.95 Jeroboams
16

Moët & Chandon, Rosé Brut 2004 Champagne

Nutty – actually very different to the Brut 2004, which is good because rosé can so often be virtually the same flavour. Perhaps unexpected, therefore – but has a delicious complexity and is pretty daring for a big brand. Bravo to them! (RH)
Drink
2012
2018
16.5

Krug, Rosé Brut NV Champagne

Much fruitier and brighter than the Dom Pérignon style. Convincing clarity of fruit, fragrant and leafy. Just a bit short? (RH)
Drink
2010
2015
16.5

Dom Pérignon, Rosé Brut 2003 Champagne

Soft, plump – fuller than the 04 Brut, unsurprisingly. Chewy texture. Undeveloped. Much less yeasty complexity than the Brut. Pinched and underwhelming on the palate. (RH)
Drink
2014
2020
16

THE REST
WHITE

Segura Viudas, Heredad Brut Reserva NV Cava

Best Cava, Spanish Wine Awards 2013.
Serious, interesting nose with apple and citrus on the palate. Doesn't exhibit much autolysis although there is complexity here – spice. Even so, I hope it's not too rude to say this is only 'interesting for cava'. (RH) 12%
Drink
2013
2015
£22.50 RRP
16.5

Delmas, Passion 2008 Crémant de Limoux

More open than many a champagne but fresher than many too with a most attractive lemony fruit. Chardonnay dominates this top bottling from Bernard Delmas. VGV
Drink
2012
2014
£13.13 Vinceremos
16

Cottonworth, Blanc de Blanc 2009 England

From a Hampshire vineyard planted in 2005. An equal blend of Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay for this vintage but subsequently the Seyval was replaced by Pinot Noir. This vintage was made on the estate rather than contracted out and the finish seems just a tad sweet.

Drink
2013
2013
RRP £24.95
15

Gratien & Meyer, The Society's Celebration 2010 Crémant de Loire

The Wine Society and Gratien & Meyer are in an extremely long-term relationship. This fresh, clean wine is fault-free but not really very long on character. Ends up tasting just a little sweet, the way many Chenin Blancs do.
Drink
2012
2014
£11.50 The Wine Society
15.5

Il Mosnel, EBB 2008 Franciacorta

Pungent nose. Still quite neutral and tight but clearly very well made and concentrated. Lime sherbet flavours in abundance. 
Drink
2013
2016
£33.50 Vini Italiani
16 +

Vilarnau, Brut NV Cava

Gonzalez Byass's Catalan Cava bodega. All local varieties aged for 18 months. Clean, deep-flavoured. Not absolutely bone dry but clean and well made. A cut above average for Cava.
Drink
2012
2014
16

Angoris, Modolet Spumante Brut NV Italy

Tank method as opposed to secondary fermentation in the bottle. Pinot Noir, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay.
Straw yellow. Just a touch yeasty and hints of ripe white fruit with a distinct, spicy note. Full flavoured, ripe yellow and white fruit palate with a rustic but sustaining bubble. Unpretentious and with real depth of flavour to it. (WS) 12%
Drink
2013
2015
16

Wiston, Cuvée Brut 2010 England

West Sussex. 2011 was a very good vintage, 2012 was awful, 2013 may be good. The Goring family planted in 2006, five miles north of Worthing. Made to a standard recipe. Inaugural vintage was 2008. Very small yield. Basket press. They use their own winery and the French winemakers from Nyetimber. 16 acres. 25,000 bottles production. They also make wines for other people.
Clean but very tart even though it has been three and a half years on the lees. Dosage is only 3.3 g/l. Zero dosage style! Bracing.

12%
Drink
2015
2018
£32.95 Corney & Barrow
15.5

Furleigh, Blanc de Noirs Brut 2009 England

Lighter palate than the classic cuvée – less substance, more prominent acid. Still great clarity of fruit, but doesn't satisfy as fully as the blend. (RH) 13%
Drink
2013
2015
17 +

Furleigh, Classic Cuvée Brut 2009 England

Charmingly rich and toasty – deliciously developed, excellent balance, great green apple fruit. I've always enjoyed Furleigh when I've tasted it. (RH) 12%
Drink
2013
2020
17 +

J Laurens 2011 Crémant de Limoux

Fresh and appley. Slightly loose but very honest. Frothy but good packaging. Interesting on the end. GV
Drink
2013
2015
£13.95 Roberson
15.5

Viña Leyda, Extra Brut 2011 Leyda

100% Chardonnay. RS 6.5 g/l, pH 3, acidity 7.98%. Clean and simple. Tastes brut. Very respectable. 12%
Drink
2013
2015
>£15 RRP
15.5

Valdivieso, Blanc de Blancs NV Chile

RS 7.19 g/l, pH 3.03, acidity 7.57%. Some real evolution on the nose. Crisp palate with just very very slight staleness of fruit but overall very successful.

12%
Drink
2013
2015
£14 RRP
16

Raventós i Blanc, de la Finca Vinya dels Fòssils 2009 Penedès

Flagship new wine from the outfit that is leading the charge out of the capacious Cava appellation. 45% Xarel·lo grapes, harvested from 5 September; 30% Macabeu grapes, harvested from 26 August, 25% Parellada grapes, harvested from 16 September. See full tech spec. Three years on the lees.
Very lively bead. Nothing like champagne on the nose! Lemon oil and veg notes. Very Xarello. You have to love it to love this. Admirably dry finish and very fine bubbles. Quite demanding but obviously very well made. 
Drink
2013
2017
16

Henners, Vintage Reserve Brut 2009 England

70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir with up to eight months more lees ageing than the straight 2009. Not necessarily more autolytic, but certainly different in character. Lovely chewiness. Serious without sacrificing eminent drinkability. (RH)
Drink
2013
2020
17

Henners, Vintage Brut 2009 England

Equal parts Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Lovely poise – such effortless daintiness. Serious, savoury fruit. Long, textural, balanced – worth ageing. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
17

Gobin, Perles de l'Angelier NV France

Dosage 14 g/l. Made from Melon de Bourgogne in Muscadet, from the producer of Ch de la Begothier. Pleasingly, it does smell of Muscadet! It works really well, with a nutty, fresh and ripe fruit. Simple but characterful. Very good. (RH) [I agree and think it is GV - JR] 11.5%
Drink
2013
2014
16.5

Gusbourne, Blanc de Blancs 2009 England

Dosage 10.5 g/l, 34 months on lees. Subtle, graceful nose. Citric and herbal, but not terribly engaging. Entirely competent, but lacking the wow factor it usually has. (RH)

Drink
2013
2016
16

Coates & Seely, Britagne Reserve Brut NV England

65% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, dosage 8 g/l, 3 years on lees. There’s a reductive quality here, giving a cabbagey sort of character. Very little autolysis. Good, but not great. (RH)
Drink
2012
2014
16

Gusbourne, Reserve Brut 2008 England

36% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir, 27% Pinot Meunier, dosage 9.8 g/l, 40 months on lees. Toffee, bread – showing some pretty serious evolution. Oxidative but not at all flat. Even so, not sure I’d age this much further. Starting to fray slightly. (RH)

Drink
2012
2014
16.5

Nyetimber, Classic Cuvée Brut 2009 England

55% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir, 19% Pinot Meunier, dosage 9 g/l. Maturing, creamy nose with a lovely Chardonnay character. Great personality – full and rich, yet with pinpoint structure. A return to form after the 2008. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
£26 Wine Society
17 +

Jenkyn Place, Brut 2009 England

65% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir, 10% Pinot Meunier, dosage 11.3 g/l, 30 months on lees. Subtle nose but lovely autolytic palate. Chewy, textural – just a bit light on fruit clarity? Pretty weighty body though, and concentrated on the finish. Something a bit leafy and bitter. (RH)
Drink
2014
2018
16.5

Digby, Fine English Reserve Brut 2009 England

65% Chardonnay, equal parts Pinots Noir & Meunier. 8 g/l dosage. Négociant model – they buy from several different growers. Proper developed bready nose – doughy. Light toastiness, vibrant acid, fresh green apple fruit. Rounded, full, opulent fruit. (RH) [I found this almost uncomfortably dry and tart, I'm afraid – JR] 
Drink
2013
2016
17

Josef Chromy, Sparkling NV Tasmania

55% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 5% Riesling. The growing season in Tasmania is typically long and cool, with average daily temperatures of around 16°C and annual rainfall of 679mm. The grapes for this sparkling wine were grown in vineyards located at altitudes varying between 81-170m. The grapes for this wine were hand-picked and whole bunch pressed, and the juices were tasted and blended before fermentation. Primary fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with a natural yeast strain, and the wine was then stabilised with the same yeast strain prior to re-inoculation, ready for bottle fermentation. The wine was tiraged with no malolactic fermentation, and was disgorged after 18 months on lees.
Rather muted nose and extremely marked acidity. Then on the palate the fruit seems a bit strident and brash – not to say simple. Can’t quite imagine paying £20 for this. 12%
Drink
2014
2015
£20 Marks & Spencer
15

Les Domaines Paul Mas, Côté Mas Frisant Piquepoul NV Languedoc

100% Piquepoul. Charmat method – the second fermentation took place in a sealed stainless-steel tank for four weeks with selected yeasts and sugar added to the base wine.
A tad sweet but reasonable texture and certainly GV even if a bit simple. Could become tiring if drunk in quantity. 12%
Drink
2013
2014
£9.95 Jeroboams
15.5

Cloudy Bay, Pelorus Brut NV New Zealand

Nutty, yeasty – much more convincing than in recent years. Pretty short, but the balance of flavour is classic, dry, autolytic and fresh. A return to form. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
16

Ridgeview, Bloomsbury Brut 2010 England

61% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir and 12% Pinot Meunier from 19-year-old vines planted on chalky South Downs. Site chosen for similarity to Champagne. 2010 saw superb flowering conditions and excellent ripening with near to perfect sugar and acidity for sparkling wine. Grapes were hand-harvested and the clusters were whole-bunch pressed in a specialist Coquard sparkling wine press before fermentation with Champagne yeast. 100% malolactic and 24 months spent cellaring on lees in purpose built underground cellars. Winemakers Mike and Simon Roberts. Suitable for vegetarians and vegans. TA 8.3 g/l, pH 3.01, Dosage 8.0 g/l, RS 9.2 g/l. IWSC 2013 Silver Medal and IWC 2013 and DWWA 2013 Bronze Medals.
Very frothy. Edgy in terms of acidity. Very clean but pretty tart. NB this is more expensive at Waitrose than most of their own label NV champagnes … by no means disgraceful but not cheap!

12%
Drink
2013
2016
£21 Wine Society, £24.99 Waitrose
16

Graham Beck Chardonnay/Pinot Noir NV Western Cape

53% Chardonnay and 47% Pinot Noir. A family-owned business with 2 wineries, one in Robertson and the other in Franschhoek. Predominantly Robertson sourced grapes, with about 10% from Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Elgin & Walker Bay. Vines planted on limestone with red karoo clay and are 7 – 25 years old. Grapes were hand-harvested with a yield of 78 hl/ha. Pressed very gently in a Champagne cycle press as whole bunches, then fermented in stainless steel tanks with pdm yeast (30% of final blend fermented in 205 litre barrels). 4 months on primary lees then secondary ferment in bottle. Aged in bottle for 15 months before disgorgement. Winemaker Pieter Ferreira. Suitable for vegetarians. TA 5.93 g/l, pH 3.09, RS 11.0 g/l. DWWA 2013 Bronze Medal.
Very neutral with tight bead but not too sweet and GV. 12%
Drink
2013
2015
£13.99 Waitrose
16

Nyetimber, Tillington Single Vineyard Brut 2009 England

Quite deep bronze pale gold. Heady, well developed nose. Lightly appley and definitely with more interest than most English fizz. Lightly honeyed. Not the driest. But it does have some autolysis on the nose. Clean finish. Delicate bead.   12%
Drink
2013
2016
16.5

Hattingley Valley, King's Cuvée Sparkling 2010 England

Fermented in a single four-year-old burgundy barrel, aged for eight months on lees in the barrel and then for 24 months on lees in bottle. Disgorged June 2013.
Masses of acidity. Still very tight. Not much fun yet!
Drink
2015
2018
15.5

Dom de Montbourgeau NV Crémant du Jura

Chardonnay. Pretty retro label. Good tang – recognisably Jura – Chardonnay with bite. Clean and revitalising. Less aggressive than a cheap champagne. GV 12%
Drink
2013
2017
£12.50 The Wine Society
16.5

Philippe Michel 2011 Crémant du Jura

100% Chardonnay. Brilliant packaging and bottle shape for the money. Clean and neutral without excess sweetness – not that much acidity and certainly no autolysis. But very well made and absolutely brilliant value for bargain, if relatively neutral, fizz. Clean finish. VGV 12%
Drink
2013
2014
£6.99 Aldi
16

Castillo Perelada, Waitrose Brut NV Cava

Best Value Cava, Spanish Wine Awards 2013.
Lovely clarity and a juiciness and purity of fruit that is usually exactly what Cava is missing. Testament to Waitrose's buying nous. (RH) 11.5%
Drink
2013
2015
£8.99 Waitrose
16.5 +

10 Sentits, Escumoi Sumoi Blanc Espumante NV Spain

Rare Spanish variety unrelated to the dark-skinned Sumoll. Two years on the lees. Fine mousse, delicate citrus plus a gentle leesy richness and a very slight grip. Sophicated, complex and just a hint of bready autolysis. A refined and delicious wine from this band of inveterate experimenters with a love of rare Spanish varieties. Beautifully packaged.  (JH)
Drink
2013
2015
17

Murgo, Metodo Classico Extra Brut 2007 Italy

Possibly the first sparkling wine from Etna. Nerello Mascalese. 50-60 months on lees.
Bright lemon zest on the nose and a very slight tannic grip. So tangy and fresh but with depth and length too. (JH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2015
17

ROSÉ

Miguel Torres, Santa Digna Estelada 2012 Maule

Reclaimed Pais. Very pale pink indeed. A bit of green acidity then some sweetness. Clean but a bit sweet and sour.  Worthy effort in theory but I'm not sure I could very positively recommend this vintage. I preferred the 2011.

12%
Drink
2013
2014
About £12.50 Hoults Wine Merchants, In the Pink, Trinas Wines, Vintagemarque
15

Ruggeri, Pinot Nero Brut NV IGT Veneto

Pretty nose and very lively, attractive fizz but not that much depth. From Valdobbiadene, the heart of Prosecco production. 12%
Drink
2012
2013
£14.25 Great Western Wine
15.5

Teo Costa, Madre Natura Rosato NV Piemonte

No sulphites and short lees contact. Bronze colour. Made from 100% Nebbiolo. Most unusual. Dramatic scent of roses on the nose, presumably thanks to the Nebbiolo. Lovely gentle texture and quite unlike any champagne or wannabe champagne but this would make a delicious and distinctive aperitif. GV
Drink
2013
2014
£16.50 Vini Italiani
16

Bolney, Cuvée Rosé Brut 2009 England

All Pinot Noir. Pale copper colour. Very assertive, fairly astringent on the palate but overall without any great fruit intensity. Slightly sweet on the finish but clean.
Drink
2012
2014
15.5

Furleigh, Rosé Brut 2009 England

Sweet strawberry fruit. Light and just a bit dilute. Refreshing and dainty with an attractively pale hue. (RH) 13%
Drink
2013
2015
16

Cottonworth, Pink NV England

Made at Hattingley. Wow – very fruity! Incredible strawberry and cherry fruit, the like of which I've never tasted – still less in an English wine! This is thanks to the use of Pinot Précoce, apparently. So bright and ripe. Hard to say if it's typically English, but I do love its boldness. (RH)

Drink
2013
2016
17

Henners, Rosé Brut 2010 England

70% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier. Earlier release than the whites to retain fruitiness, apparently. Lovely clarity and freshness. Beautiful balance. Expert stuff. (RH)
Drink
2013
2020
17

Nyetimber, Rosé Brut 2009 England

45% Chardonnay, 53% Pinot Noir, 2% Pinot Meunier, dosage 11 g/l. Very bright pink. Loads of primary red fruit on the nose and palate. A bit crude and fruit-driven. Has a sort of mainstream fruitiness in the style of Antipodean sparkling wine. Not exactly typical of England though. (RH)
Drink
2013
2015
16

Coates & Seely, Britagne Rosé Brut NV England

65% Pinot Noir, 35% Pinot Meunier, dosage 9 g/l. Hardly rosé at all. Ripe and soft and very artisanal, somehow – stylish, very creamy mousse. Understated yet engaging. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
16.5

Jenkyn Place, Rosé Sparkling 2009 England

70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, dosage 11.8 g/l. Pretty light and simple. Introverted, though the fruit character is very delicious. Deserves a bit of age to open up. (RH)

Drink
2014
2018
16.5 +

Digby, Fine English Rosé Brut 2009 England

80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, dosage 10 g/l. Red Pinot Noir is aged in Burgundy barrels before adding to the blend for colour. Light fruit flavour, with a ripe strawberry fruit on the palate. Chewy, textural, full. Powerful and self-confident. (RH)
Drink
2013
2018
16.5

Graham Beck, The Rhona Rosé NV Western Cape

50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. The Graham Beck vineyards are situated in the Robertson and Stellenbosch areas, where the climate is warm with cool evenings through the summer ripening period. The cold, wet winter this year ensured good energy build-up for the vines and the near perfect summer conditions aided good fruit development. During harvest the grapes were hand selected and then whole bunch pressed. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were fermented separately, and following primary fermentation selections were blended together, lightly fined, stabilised and filtered before sugar was added for the secondary fermentation in bottle. The wine rested on the lees in bottle for 15 months prior to disgorgement, bottling and labelling.
Very pale rose pink. Smells of almost nothing and a bit astringent on the palate. 12%
Drink
2013
2014
£13.99 Marks & Spencer
14.5

Cloudy Bay, Pelorus Rosé NV New Zealand

Very pale strawberry colour. Simpler than the Brut NV on the nose. Sweeter fruit, and there is some red berry character here … unless the colour is making me imagine it! Smooth, drinkable, simple. If colour doesn’t matter, the Brut is a better bet. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2014
15

Cono Sur, Rosé Brut NV Bío-Bío

Tank method, 100% Pinot Noir. RS 8.5 g/l. Very pretty salmon pink, good crispness on the palate. For simple bubbles, this is respectable. Smooth, dry enough. (RH) 12.5%
Drink
2013
2014
£9.99 RRP
15

Il Pollenza, A BP Millesimato Rosé Metodo Classico Extra Brut 2009 Italy

Palest of salmon. Soft, flowery strawberry fruit nose and not a lot of autolysis. Just balanced by acidity, and seems at the higher end of brut, but in fact is extra brut (2.5 g/l). Fine persistent bubble. But the fruit is a little flat. (WS)
Drink
2013
2018
UK importer Grossi Wines
15.5

RED

Rockford, Black Shiraz Brut NV Barossa Valley

Sparkling. Sweet black fruit, juicy yet sophisticated and balanced. Long and intense – loads of American oak, but if you can't have that in Aussie Shiraz, where can you have it? Absolutely delicious! (RH)
Drink
2013
2015
17.5