The last wine tasting I got to before lockdown was on How Sparkling Wines Mature, presented by Bernard Lamb. This tasting of ten bottles explored champagnes and English sparkling wines, vintage and non-vintage, at different stages of maturity. Generally with age, sparkling, wines lose fizz and freshness and gain depth of flavour and complexity. But it is a complexity that not everyone enjoys. Some people really love vintage champagne whereas others are happier with non-vintage.
We tasted vintage Moet et Chandon (1983) and non-vintage champagnes of Jacquesson, Bollinger, and Pol Roger Cuvée de Réserve Pure Extra Brut made for Great Britain (this latter my own top choice out of the champagnes). Extra Brut means that no sugar is added in the dosage; it consisted of equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This was Winston Churchill’s favourite champagne.
The English sparkling wines were also all very good. Two Nyetimber vintages from 2000 and 2003, a Camel Valley from 2010 and a 2013 Ridgeview; non-vintage from Ridgeview and from Hattingley Valley.
The two sparkling wines I found especially to my taste were Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Brut 2003, made of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and the Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut 2010. However, others of us had different individual favourites. A few of us were particular afficionados of old vintage champagne; some would rather taste non-vintage champagnes. Others preferred one or more of the English sparkling wines.
Such an interesting and informative tasting across champagnes and sparkling wines, vintage and non-vintage – many thanks, Bernard!
© Rachel Burnett