This is the hardest post-tour activity: picking the top 5 wines from the many fine wines we tasted. In all honesty, I can state that there were no wines with major deficiencies. In other words, they were well made expressions of their type.
This says a lot about sparkling wines produced in England. They are under the radar screen of most wine lovers. In fact, they are off the screen in their own country. We’ve been to numerous restaurants in the UK where there was not a single English wine on the wine list.
English sparkling wines are not eccentricities only to be tried because they are different or novelties. They are on a par with many Champagnes but have an identity problem, much similar to the sparkling wines of Franciacorta. As for English still wines, my advice is stick with the sparklers- that’s where the quality is.
But I promised to cull out the best from the rest and so here they are: Vin’s top 5 wines of our recent Champagne/England comparative wine tour:
#5 Gaston Chiquet Insolent- the classic Champagne blend of 3 grapes with an emphasis on the Pinot Meunier, hence a fruit-forward wine
#4 Météyer Carte d’Argent, a classic blend of all 3 grapes with 6 years aging on the lees so it will age, aromatic traits of brioche and toast
#3 Ridgeview Blanc de Blanc 2013- aromas of citrus, brioche, honey, creamy in the mouth with fine mousse, its 2010 vintage was Decanter’s Wine of the World
#2 High Clandon Rosé- a miniscule production of just 1,500 bottles means you’ll probably never find it on the shelves but a true gem of a well-made wine that will baffle anyone who tastes it blind because it will stand up to French Champagne
#1 Ayala Brut Majeure- the classic blend of 3 grapes, this was a wine loved by everyone
Special mention*** I found a new love in Champagne: the Ayala Rosé Majeure was my personal favorite among all the wines we tasted on this tour,it had a beguiling fresh aroma of strawberries, bone dry but fruit balanced it perfectly- I saw stars.
Tomorrow I will have the results of our blind tasting of 4 wines: 2 Champagnes and 2 English sparkling wines