JWL Issue #077: English sparkling wine & 2 great wines from M&S

November 26, 2019

The eagle-eyed amongst you noted an absent newsletter last week.

Turns out I had appendicitis. On Monday of last week, I noticed a pretty bad pain that got worse on Tuesday. A Babylon call later, and I was recommended to head into A+E. About 28 hours after getting into hospital, I had the operation. After a pretty long stint of not eating or drinking which was probably the worst part of it – ish.

All this is to say, that I’ve not tried much new wine this week. So I’ve recalled some older tastings I’ve not yet shared with you, and next week as we enter December I’ll kick off my end of year lists.

A couple of Wine List updates….

I’m introducing Gift Cards today for The Wine List. That means you can gift one, three, six or twelve months of The Wine List to a loved one or friend. Discounts come in at the higher tiers.

I’m also announcing a special grower Champagne together partnership with La Raisin D'Être. We wanted to offer a Champagne option to you this Christmas, and La Raisin D'être’s grower focus was just right for you. Cut-off for Christmas delivery is 14th December, and there’s free postage if you buy six bottles or more.


Hattingley is one of the real stalwarts of English sparkling wine and it was an absolute pleasure to get to taste the 2015 Sparkling Rosé (£36) recently. This has strawberries in abundance, with a persistent but elegant fizz and a rich creamy texture. Again a reminder of why I think English Sparkling rosé is an absolute delight.

Daniel’s Drift Chenin (£5.50 from M&S) is very good value indeed. This South African chenin is bright with some apricot aromas. Nothing too complex here, but a great day-to-day chenin to go along with some food.

And stepping up from the chenin, but staying at M&S, Mineralstein is a corker of a supermarket riesling (£9). This has the usual limeyness you might expect from riesling, but there’s body here that brings balance, and allows you to see beyond the initial citrus hit. If doing the supermarket rounds ahead of Christmas, you’d be well placed to grab both of these.


Grower champagne?

First we have to understand how traditional Champagne is produced. The Big Brands we know and love will make their wines from many different vineyards across Champagne. With non-vintages, they will used different wines from different years.

They do this to achieve a reliable and familiar taste year after year. So when you get Bollinger Special Cuvée, it’s tastes the same as the last time you celebrated with it.

Grower Champagne, on the other hand, is where the grape grower makes them Champagne themselves. This means that you typically have just one site being used for a Champagne, and more often the vintage variation you expect with other wines.

The result is a wine that changes year after year, but also one that better reflects the terroir of where it comes from.

What’s better will ultimately be down to personal preference. But if you like your wine to reflect where it comes from, and resemble a living thing, then why not give some Grower Champagne a go.

Further reading

Rotter’s Champagne Vs English Sparkling Wine, Noble Rot (2015)

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