Been spoilt with good fizz over the last few months and this Graham Beck is up there with the best I’ve tasted especially for the price. From the first sip I was sold with its lemony, yeasty, nutty and creamy taste leaving a lot of Champagne at twice the price floundering in its wake.
A Blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, spending 15 months or so on Lees this stunning sparkler was apparently served at Nelson Mandela’s inauguration and again served up for Barack Obama’s presidential win. My bottle was served up in my kitchen before our evening meal, not quite as grand but it did feel like a special occasion with its impressive looking bottle and it’s equally impressive taste.
In the glass it was a very darkish golden colour with a lively mousse and pronounced aromas of yeast and nuts with some lemony fruit along with a creamy and long finish. A touch of sweetness added to its appeal and overall it was very Champagney in flavour.
Everyone who tried it loved it and I can’t praise it highly enough and would recommend it without hesitation even at the full price of around £13.50, I paid £9.99 at Waitrose (which is a steal).
Don’t take my word for it, go out and buy some , you won’t be disappointed, I’m heading back for more.
My rating 8.5/10 Corks
Waitrose £13.50 (bought on offer for £9.99)
**Tempted to give this my first 9/10 Corks, the wait goes on but only just !!!
Following my recent visit to Hambledon winery in Hampshire I set off for another enjoyable day at another English winery this time in sunny Staplehurst, Kent (Garden of England) and the serene and immaculately manicured Hush Heath Estate famous for its Balfour sparkling wines especially the award-winning Balfour Brut Rosé
Set in 400 acres of vineyards, orchards and woodland this really was a lovely way to spend a few hours strolling around the grounds, visiting the winery and best of all actually tasting the wines.
The tour of the orchard and vineyards lasted about an hour and a half before finishing with a look around their state of the art wine making facilities, unfortunately I couldn’t take any photographs.
During the stroll our guide showed us the orchard where they grow a variety of apples which make their various ciders and apple juice followed by their equally impressive vineyard where they grow the typical Champagne grapes which are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for their sparklers.
The tour was informative as well as being very enjoyable and the weather was perfect if a little hot but what impressed me most was how beautifully kept the Estate was, it really was immaculate.
After the tour we assembled in their tasting tent for a sample of two Sparkling wines, one still red and last but not least the cider.
Balfour Brut Rosé
First up was their flagship award-winning Rosé………. This was given a big thumbs up by all who tasted it. Lovely pale salmon colour with a lively stream of fine bubbles. Aromas of Strawberries, plums and vanilla with a Crisp, refreshing and long finish.
Balfour Leslie’s Reserve
Next was my favourite, named after the producers wife from selected Cuvées. As I have said before who needs Champagne when English sparkling wine tastes as good as this. With a minimum of at least 12 months Lees ageing this was fresh light and had a fruity sweetness about it. Again universally enjoyed by everyone.
Hush Heath Pinot Noir
Only tasted one of the still wines which was a Pinot Noir, very fruit forward and light full of cherries and raspberries with a slight herbal kick. Not enough depth for me but it has won awards and I would quite happily drink it, maybe it needed to be chilled slightly to taste it at its best.
There was also some of the Jake’s Orchard sparkling ciders to try namely Nettle and Strawberry & blackcurrant, if you’re a fan of cider these were very good.
The Sparkling wines were definitely the stars and they were very proud of them and rightly so even if they were a little on the expensive side.
My wife and stayed at ‘The Goudhurst Inn’ a few miles away, this boutique pub owned by Hush Heath was the perfect retreat after a hard days wine touring. The pub featured most of the wines we tasted and we enjoyed another couple of glasses of the excellent Balfour Leslie’s Reserve with a very nice dinner.
Some may say who needs Champagne when we have Sparking wine in this country as good as this. I have sampled a few English wines mostly a tastings and events, notably Nyetimber and Chapel Down and both are very good but it’s not until I tasted this particular bottle that I sat up and realised that the Brits do make some pretty decent sparkling wines.
This wine is made in the south downs, Hampshire, the Hambledon vineyard was established in 1952 and bought by Ian Kellett in 1999.
My daughters boyfriend brought this Hambledon Classic Cuvée around for us all to try, having never tasted English bubbles before. I was only too happy to open it up as I was very keen to try it as well.
When poured, this was extremely fizzy with a lively mousse, when it settled the bubbles were very fine and constant. Fairly darkish golden colour with a nose of ripe apples and pears with a hint of biscuit and brioche. On first taste this was taut and refreshingly tart, full of citrus fruits, a little bready but with a lovely creaminess on the finish, which lasted.
There was a small drop left which we finished the next day and both my wife and I thought it was even better, with it still retaining some fizz and bubbles, still with that refreshing acidity but with a much more creamy taste.
So did we enjoy it ? a resounding yes and on the strength of this bottle I plan to visit Hambledon vineyard when the weather gets better, looking forward to it already.