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22 September 2011

Champers vs English fizz

From gusbourne.com
Another idea for a mini-theme came to mind while sampling some nice fizz at London-based wine merchant Armit's recent tasting. They import the rather superlative Champagnes of Pierre Gimonnet et Fils and had them lined up alongside an English sparkling newcomer - relatively, their first "commercial" vintage was 2006 which wasn't released until the end of last year - from Kent called Gusbourne Estate in Appledore. And the verdict? Well, as you'll see below, my notes and "scores" on the excitingly simple 1 to 3 scale for all five wines are pretty much on a par. So, well done Gusbourne especially since they've only been making "Champagne style" fizz (same varieties, same ageing methods I'd guess) for six vintages, including the one they're probably picking now or about to. Classy wines although, as is the "problem" with these very small production, new-kid-on-the-block boutique English sparkling wine houses, the prices are more or less the same as the Gimonnet Champagnes. Not really a criticism - good luck in the current retail climate - just an observation, as I'm sure they've invested a lot of money into the estate and winery. Must go there sometime...
This reminds me to focus a bit more on English sparkling wines; it's been a while since I tried e.g. Ridgeview, Nyetimber, Camel, who all produce lovely fizz. There's a newish "does what it says on the label" website too covering the whole 'topic' with handy on-line shop: sparklingenglishwine.com

Cuis 1er Cru Brut NV ChampagneGimonnet - classic balance of bread-y yeasty notes, a bit of roundness and texture vs nice steely bite. 2 £30
Gastronome Brut 2006 Vintage Champagne, Gimonnet - toastier vs tarter profile, fine and tight style with long tasty finish, still seems quite young really. 2+ £32
Fleuron 1er Cru Brut 2005 Vintage Champagne, Gimonnet - delicious bread-y nose with oat cake tones, rich vs tight mouth-feel with fresher acidity vs more of those enticing biscuit flavours. 2+ £36 

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2006 (100% Chardonnay) - bread-y and lightly toasty vs nutty crisp side, subtle balance style and length. 2 £25-£30
Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2008 (Chardy, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier) - toasty with hints of chocolate and sweet red fruits vs crisp bite and dry texture, quite toasty finish but it's very tasty and different. 2 £25-£32


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.