I seem to have been “comparing and contrasting” Champagne quite a bit in my tasting recently, quite often the Loire vs. Champagne, but in this case the UK was up for the challenge in the shape of a wine new to me from the Hush Heath Estate. A pretty average showing from Jacquart (although it seemed to go down well with those sharing the bottle), but an impressive effort from Hush Heath. This is an estate to watch for sure.
Jacquart Brut Blanc de Noirs NV: It’s a long time since I’ve tasted anything from the Jacquart co-operative. This wine has a pale straw hue and an amazingly bountiful bead in the glass. On the nose it begins to display its Pinot character, with a lightly-baked, oaty biscuit character on the nose, brightened by a streak of lemon and thyme running through it. It seems very nicely defined here, although it is less so on the palate, immediately displaying a rather fatter character from the start right through the middle, a little loose-knit and easy-going, perhaps in part relating to the dosage. Nevertheless, it is still full of opulent, juicy character that brings some pleasure, even if it feels dilute. It has that biscuit edge and certainly some honeycomb praline, with a plump mouthfeel and flavour impact of a blanc de noirs even though it doesn’t seem to have the structural weight, showing just a touch lighter and more delicate in terms of composition than I might have expected. But that’s too much criticism; there is good flavour here, with some appealing blackcurrant notes coming through very strongly in the midpalate, and then showing an almost grippy, savoury, damson-skin character on the finish. A non-wino crowd-pleaser, but nothing more serious than that. 15/20
Hush Heath Estate Balfour Brut Rosé (Kent, UK) 2005: My first encounter with the wines of this estate in Kent, established by Richard Balfour-Lynn in 2002 with the sole purpose of producing sparkling rosé, planting 45% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. A delightfully peachy onion-skin hue on inspection, and a very fine bead. The nose is entrancing, with elements of peach fruit, redcurrrant leaf and lemon zest providing a fresh and lively note to the subtle layer of praline, coffee and toasted brioche that lies beneath. Wonderfully fresh and vigorous on the palate, lifted and bright, with sappy-sour fruit and a lightly creamy character to it, helped by the very fine, velvety mousse. Nicely perfumed, and a good fresh finish, full of lively acidity, and good sappy length. An excellent style, very approachable and for current drinking rather than keeping I think. I like it! 17+/20