Three of the most delicious wines Matthew Jukes can think of right now.
As this is a special edition Vineyard Magazine singing the praises of the upcoming Vineyard & Winery Show, I thought I would throw caution to the wind with my theme and my wines this month. The reason for this is that I know that I will be called upon to talk about the three wines opposite in my wine tasting at the Show.
This means that I have pushed the boat out so that the assembled audience can get stuck into some seriously delicious bottles and all enjoy a rip-roaring time. But what of my theme? It is not simply an excuse to drink, sorry, taste, the three most delicious wines I can think of right now, but I also have a slightly broader sub-text running through this hedonistic trio of wines and that is the notion of the age-worthiness of elite English sparkling wine.
My definition of the expression ‘fine wine’ is, quite simply, a delicious wine that improves, changes, and becomes more complex and intriguing with age. Top English sparkling wines are prime candidates for both drinking well on release and evolving and shape-shifting with age.
This means that if they choose to do so, they can move from being considered wonderful effervescent creations on release and potential fine wines if they are granted time spent in the cellar.
I have picked out three wines opposite, which are all, to my mind, benchmark candidates for ‘fine wine’ consideration. One is barely released, the second is already into its stride, and the third is nearing its peak. All are incredible from a taste point of view, and I hope you agree when you drink them with me on 24 November that they represent a trio of some of the most remarkable wines made on our shores to date. There is one final element to consider when awarding the term fine wine to a bottle of wine: the notion of balance. As hard to pin down as it is to explain, I have always believed that ‘balance is born’. Fine wines are always balanced from the off, and so I hope you will agree that there is as much pleasure in drinking the 2018 as there is in both the 2014 and the 2010 vintages, and while they are at different points on their journey, they all display perfect balance.
So, we come to the venerable 2010 vintage, and this time, please check the fine print because the prices listed are for magnums and not bottles of this celestial wine.
Firstly, the value afforded here is staggering. This is an eleven-year-old, superb vintage, stellar estate wine that has been matured carefully for your delectation, and it is only slightly north of forty squids a bottle. Wow.
We all know that Nyetimber’s wines are long-lived, but this is another thrilling example of just how fit and visceral these wines can be after over a decade of age. The fact that it can be purchased in a magnum is even more compelling because this format will further extend the potential for this wine. Having said this, 2010 CC looks catwalk ready right now, and while it might be approaching its apogee, there is no sign that this wine will lose its swagger for many years to come.
Hattingley’s Kings Cuvée has been striding around impressing all-comers for a while now, and it has even picked up a gong or two, too, but I happen to think that this wine’s best days are yet to come!
At seven years old, this is not only one of the country’s finest sparkling wines, but it is also grand, layered, keen and bristling with energy. I have tasted it perhaps seven or eight times to date, and it just keeps blossoming in the glass.
The lifeforce buried within each bottle is extraordinary, and I cannot see it losing its momentum for many years to come. This wine is a classic example of one that shows perfect balance every time you pop a cork. Yet the flavour gently progresses along a wonderful journey, billowing and softening as it goes, so it never tastes exactly the same.
There are still many chapters of this story to be told – so I hope that there are enough bottles left in the HV cellar, so we can all learn how this epic ends.
I know that not even Gusbourne is showing this vintage on their website as I file copy for this column and that only the wise palates at Vinotopia have put their hand up for this insanely delicious new vintage release.
Still, I am told that Oxford Wine Company, Highbury Vintners and Fortnum & Mason are all waiting in the wings and then, presumably, the rest of the country will be beating a path to this wine’s door in no time at all because it is a singular tour de force from Gusbourne.
It is not often that I unleash a 19/20 score in my notebook. It is even rarer for me to share this with you because I always want people to read my notes and not my scores, but this is, without any shred of doubt, a wine that will stop you in your tracks with its completeness, balance, nobility and élan. You heard about it this particular fine wine here first.