Test 2024 Round-up

1086 by Nyetimber 2013

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WINE REVIEW

It’s always exciting to try a new 1086 wine from Nyetimber. Past releases have represented some of the most refined and textural English sparkling wines out there. The 2013 vintage is also a special one;  many of my favourite and most memorable English sparkling wines were born from that year – both Nyetimber’s own and other producers across the country. So the expectation of this wine was already pretty high.

And it certainly doesn’t disappoint, opening up with a complex and alluring nose of red apple, nectarine skin and hints of honeyed fruit. Also notes of roasted almond, chalk and lemon keep everything bright and fresh.

Where this really starts to sing is on the palate: initial bursts of lemon and tingling salinity are partnered with crisp apple, but there’s a slender softness with silky soft bubbles that makes this wine incredibly compelling and indulgent.

The red fruit (49% percent of the total blend) really starts to emerge as the wine opens in the glass, with hints of cranberry, red cherry and almond coming to the forefront as the wine warms.

I’m a firm believer in putting my money where my mouth is – and with 2013 being my wedding year, I’ve already invested in a case of the 1086 2013 for future celebrations.

Exton Park Blanc de Noirs 2014

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WINE REVIEW

I have for quite some time been a champion of Exton Park’s precise and distinctive sparkling wines. While the estate remains focussed on its non-vintage ‘Reserve Blend’ approach, it is the rare release of a vintage wine that is often the most captivating. The latest to be launched is the Blanc de Noirs 2014 – only their second vintage Blanc de Noirs to date – and the first to be released at retail.

The fruit used in this wine came from one particular block of Pinot Noir, and explaining the importance of the grape, winemaker Corinne Seely stated that “the creation of a vintage Blanc de Noirs at Exton Park is a truly exceptional occurrence, given the precious nature of Pinot Noir in our Reserve Blends”.

Pale in colour compared to some of the more bronzed Blanc de Noirs out there, the wine has a powerful nose of red apple, chalk and toasted almond, as well as hints of almond pastry.

The palate is brisk and bright, with the signature Exton Park top notes of crisp apple, racy citrus and bright minerality. The palate takes a creamier, weightier turn, with almond croissant notes, together with a curious smoky hint and soft, slender bubbles.

What makes this really special is the juxtaposition of the linear, fresh and chalky precision that all of Exton Park’s wines demonstrate alongside the complexities that nearly ten years of bottle age allows to develop.

Balfour Albariño 2022

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WINE REVIEW

This is Balfour’s first ever Albariño, made from the 2022 vintage, and I believe to this date only the third take on this variety in England (the others being a few vintages from Chapel Down and Ancre Hill’s orange sparkling take).

On the nose, there are waxy lemons, white peach and light floral hints, with a distinct wet stone minerality.

I was expecting a slightly tight and lean wine, and whilst the acidity is certainly punchy and bright, there’s a softness to the wine that recalls stone fruit and ripe apple. Saline and tingling throughout, with a hint of white pepper on the finish, I think this is a really worthwhile and accomplished addition to the Balfour line-up.

This is an extremely limited release, mostly destined for the on-trade, with a limited allocation at the Balfour cellar door and for Wine Club customers.

Albury Estate Sparkling Rosé NV

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WINE REVIEW

Famous for their cult favourite still English rosé wine from Surrey, it’s hard to believe that sparkling rosé is something of a rarity for Albury Vineyard – especially when they do it so well!

Made from 100% Pinot Noir, including Pinot Noir Précoce, this is a fresh and fruity glass that drinks superbly when the springtime sun peeks through the clouds.

Crisp and fresh, with lemon, pink grapefruit and cranberry up-front, the palate opens to strawberry and raspberry, with a distinctive chalky texture.

This is a super refreshing take on rosé that has fruit purity at the forefront, and it’s really quite lovely.

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