Showdown between Champagne & English Sparkling Wine: Who Won?

Our comparative tour of Champagne and English Sparkling wine ended last week, but the memories linger.

We had many wonderful visits and experiences. My top memorable events were the UNESCO Roman cellars at Mumms, visiting with the Tindales at their boutique estate in Surrey and the exciting (sarcastic) Chunnel ride.

The single most impressive visit was Mumms. We were treated to a VIP visit with a personal tour and tasting in their historic cellars in Reims and then lunch in their private estate, Moulin de Verzenay. An exquisite lunch paired with Champagne, breathtaking visits, a demonstration of sabering a Champagne bottle- precious moments that will linger forever.

I had preconceived notions about what we experienced. Based on my previous visit, I knew that

our blind tasting panel

English sparkling wines rival Champagne. At their best, they go toe-to-toe. But I planned our last event to prove my preconception: a blind tasting of 2 Champagnes and 2 English sparklers.

All the panel members, including myself, did not know which wines were which. A waiter served us 4 glasses and for about 10 minutes, each of us looked, swirled, sniffed and tasted the wines.

The person across from me summed it up: ‘this is tough!’ And it was difficult because no wine stood out among the others and indeed the English wines held their own against very good French competition.

All the wines except one were non-vintage and blends of the 3 traditional grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The mousse in all the glasses was tiny, the fruit and broche aromas were evident and the taste lingered in all of them. The waiter afterwards told me that he thought the 2 French wines had more of a gold color but it was not evident before my eyes.

So here they are; in my humble opinion, they could all have been rated #1:

#4 Black Dog Hill Classic Cuvée 2013
#3 Météyer Tradition Brut
#2 Nyetimber Classic Cuvée
#1 Ayala Brut Majeure

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