It costs money to hold stock, and it shreds nerves, too. But the rewards for releasing wines when they are drinking instead of just-labelled are considerable. Still wines always find their way onto the market when they are young and fresh, and this makes perfect sense. However, sparklers are more sensitive to the timing of their release.

Ultimately, the winery cannot control when the consumer pops the cork, but one thing is certain, they can ensure that it is not too early in a wine’s life by timing their launch to coincide with the palate – not when the accountants in the building give a wine the thumbs up. When a wine is too raw and squeaky, regardless of its potential, it will leave a slightly negative impression on its drinker.

Most consumers are not wine pros, so they don’t have the required experience to appreciate that while the wine will improve, they can also enjoy the tension and verve in the glass despite the wine’s youth. Sadly, once a punter declares a wine ‘too sharp,’ they will never return. If you are a wine producer, please bear this in mind because you will not get a second chance. If, however, you taste, taste and taste again, with an open mind and an eye to deliciousness, then you can second guess your customers, and this will give you a solid chance of impressing on the very first sip. Six, eight or twelve months earlier, that exact wine might not have achieved the desired effect!

Of course, when wines reach their middle age, they start to gather momentum and move with more fluidity and flair. We can all appreciate the musculature and straining sinews of a sprinter in the blocks, but it is far more impressive to admire an athlete in full flow, seemingly effortless as the strides lengthen, the shoulders drop an inch, and confidence exudes from every pore. Confidence comes with age and experience; in the case of wine, middle age determines a wine’s true greatness.

2013 Digby Fine English, Vintage Reserve Brut


£267.00 for a case of 6 bottles


Here is another middle-aged wine, and now that it has reached its tenth birthday, it is worth reflecting on this wine’s history to date.

While it has never tasted better than it does today, I spotted its potential back in June 2021 when I featured it on this very page. Others agreed, and gongs followed, none more prestigious than being named Supreme Champion at last year’s WineGB Awards. But let’s look to the future because while I believe it has reached its halfway point, there are more twists and turns to come.

I imagine stocks will sell out fairly soon, and the second half of this wine’s existence will occur not in the Digby cellars but in peoples’ collections. I urge those with this mighty wine under their stairs to exercise restraint.

It looks regal now, but there are still more flavours to unravel and billow. Perhaps this wine is a marker for bold English wineries. Bollinger is about to release its 2015, while Moët, Clicquot and Roederer, including Roederer’s Cristal cuvée, are already there. Perhaps we should embrace our middle age more – Digby is doing just that!

2015 Hattingley Valley, Kings Rosé


Finding sparkling rosé that makes it into middle-aged territory is tricky. This wine is Hattingley’s first ever Kings Rosé, and it is the perfect wine to debut this label!

The cold 2015 vintage gave rise to firm, centred, introverted wines, and many have never truly blossomed. Kings Rosé seems to be performing a slo-mo sun salutation in the glass as it unwinds incrementally in contact with air and ends up as a glorious, fully open, and extended beauty!

Pinot forms 90% of this blend, with Noir, Meunier and a touch of Précoce making up the numbers. Unlike rosés based on Chardonnay with a touch of added red wine, this one has a core of epic fruit and a long life ahead. Hattingley bucked the trend managing to gain ‘super-ripeness’ in 2015, and it shows.

I am not sure how many people have tasted ‘older’ rosés, but 2015 Kings is a wine with a prodigious engine, and while it is enjoying its middle age, you would be a fool to pop all your corks this summer. If you can think of a grander English sparkling rosé, you win a prize because this middle-aged soul will gain glamour and allure as every day passes, and I believe there is a decade left in its tank.

2015 All Angels, Classic Cuvée

£40.00 and a handful of indies including

There has always been something slightly intangible at All Angels. There is no doubt that the wines are exemplary, but I think I have finally cracked the code just in time for this wine to hit the high notes.

I believe that the rare quality at All Angels is patience, and this wine is a case in point. The complex blend of 58% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, 13% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Gris was bottle matured on its lees for six years.

This outfit only releases wines when they are ready, and, funnily enough, the 2017 will be released after six years on its lees, before the 2016 vintage. 2015 was a late harvest, in October and November, and with 100% malolactic and then 100% patience employed, this wine has been well worth waiting for.

Patience is a rare commodity in our business, and if this wine had been rushed onto the market, it would never have reached its ‘middle age’. I am so pleased that we can savour this wine now because it shows stunning balance, ample flesh, and more volume of fruit than anyone thought possible.

I believe there is more to come, too, hence ‘middle age’ and not ‘peak’. I think others could take a leaf out of All Angels’ book. If you can hold your sparkling wines until they approach their middle age, you will likely win a lifelong commitment from your customers. I am not alone in thinking that All Angels deserves to be a household name – this patience will surely pay off.