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If I may chime in, but the few times I’ve had Nyetimber I have found it to be (trying to temper my words here, but sorry)…awful.

I do like Camel Valley, and I like what Chapel Down knock out. I can see there signs of competitionfor Champagne, but nowhere near the standard of VC vintage (which is only vintage Champagne I know well).

As for pricing, supermarkets are sitting on massive stocks of everything whilst we transition from one set of Eurocrats in Brussels to the other set in Geneva. Joy.

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I guess this is the great thing about wine. Everyone has their own taste :grinning:

For me, Nyetimber BdB 1998 (magnum) absolutely smashed a bottle of Cristal 2004. Bit of a price difference between the two.

One thing the French do get right in my view is championing their local produce!


They do, but I’m of the opinion they have a lot to shout about :smiley:

The flip side to their character is that it is very hard in France, let alone from abroad, to break their orthodoxies. There are many wines in France that don’t get a look in because of the power of Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy. So yes they champion things locally, but translating that to nationally is a different matter.


Well worth reading the Noble Rot article comparing English sparkling with champagne (the link goes straight to a pdf of the magazine article):

Four ESWs, four grower champagnes and four Grand Marque champagnes, ranked as follows:

  1. Hambledon Classic Cuvee (ENGLISH): 178.5
  2. Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2010 (ENGLISH): 175
  3. Pol Roger Brut Reserve (FRENCH): 173.5
  4. Taittinger Brut Reserve (FRENCH): 173
  5. Bereche Brut Reserve (FRENCH): 167
  6. Wiston Cuvee (ENGLISH): 166.5
  7. Frerejean Freres Brut (FRENCH): 165.5
  8. Marguet Cru Extra Brut (FRENCH): 164
  9. Gusborne Brut Reserve 2010 (ENGLISH): 160.4
  10. Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne (FRENCH): 160
  11. Veuve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label (FRENCH): 159.5
  12. Savart L’Ouverture (FRENCH): 150.5

Don’t disagree! Though I think they might be better at cheese than wine… :nerd_face:

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27 posts were split to a new topic: Ramblings on cheese

Listen, I love France, I love the way they champion their local produce (every supermarket always has a produits de notre region section). I love the quality and variety of what they produce.

That doesn’t mean we have to trash British produce. We do make some great stuff too. A good Stilton (IMO, of course), is better than any blue cheese produced in France. And give me quality Cheddar over supermarket Comté any time. There’s room for us to produce great food too.


@Leah, you raise a very good point here. Selosse inspires love and hate in equal measures.

I would not recommend anyone committing the significant amount of money his wines command without first checking if the styles of the different cuvees suit your taste.

I’ve purchased four of his cuvees in the past and continue to do so whenever I can: Initiale, VO, Substance and Contraste. I am lucky that one of the wine shops I’m a customer of receives a small allocation of his wines and sells them to its (mostly) loyal customers without trying to milk them.

My own view of his wines is that they are a treasure trove, but you have to dig deeper and establish a new baseline for what champagne is supposed to be. It reminds me the first time someone offered me Stinking Bishop. How can anyone on earth eat that? Well, turns out that quite a few can. And I’m a devout fan nowadays.

Anyways, here’s what a non-fan had to say about the cult of Selosse:


I don’t think theres any suggestion of trashing our produce, but simultaneously it does us no favours to talk up the mediocre. We do produce good food, but nowhere near the scale of France.

I happen to disagree on Stilton, I find it too weighty and stodgy compared to a (again, quality) Roquefort, though I believe it was Brillat-Savarin who christened to it as ‘The King of Cheeses’. Food and drink can only ever really come down to opinions.


I love champagne and drink gallons. However to say ESW is not as good is daft (almost as daft as the patriotic duty shtick). It has a different flavour profile, and a very varied one. I love the white hedgerow flowers flavours which many have. They age marvellously. Camel and Smith and Evans are two I drink regularly. I have yet to have an epiphany with any other sparkling wine regions. But that’s just my prejudice. I drink Prosecco under sufferance.

And I think there has been a cheese renaissance in this country. Some hard English cheeses are astounding.


How lucky we are to have so much variety of both food and wine that we can have this debate :heart:


Sorry to hear that. I have a cellar-full of both the Rose and the Blanc NV and we love it. since they started blending (as they have now got the reserves to do so) it has transformed the cuvee. Lets put it down to personal tastes.


From the article:

As it was, Hambledon triumphed thanks to high scores across the board, with 2/3 of the judges placing it in their top three. One judge mistakenly wrote “this has to be French”, while Jancis Robinson MW described it as “taut but impressive” and “bracing, like a seaside walk”. Jamie Goode was similarly impressed, finding “precise and intense lemon character”, while Xavier Rousset MS observed that “it will be even better in a few years”

That intense lemon character, or as Jancis put it, tauting and bracing character is something that defines English sparkling wine to me, and I must admit that I’ve had a lot of it this year, including Camel Valley, Bride Valley, Hambledon and Nyetimber (and keep at least a couple of bottles at home).

The test above mixed NV with vintage cuvees. Price points are really different when you start using vintage cuvees of the French wines, and normalizing the vintages is a challenge, given that what’s is a vintage in one country may not necessarily be a vintage in another.

It would have been interesting if they have take something like the 2009 vintage Pol Roger, which is just one year older than the Nyetimber Cuvee used in the tasting and compared to the 2010 cuvees of the English sparkling wines.

All in all, the blind tasting was interesting, but there was no level-playing field applied to it (unlike, say, the Judgment of Paris). It was probably a fun afternoon to drink some bubbly and compare scores, but nothing more than that.



This is a fair point, though only with respect to two of the English options. The Hambledon NV still beat the various Champagne NV’s listed, and is broadly equivalent in price. That’s hard to argue with.

Personally I’m with you - I’d usually choose Champagne over ESW. But if given a budget of, say, £35 which I had to spend I’d probably chose specific ESW NV options over Champagne NV. For vintage, I’ve not experienced enough ESW options to make a judgement.

Overall, they are different products with different appeals. They’re not really comparable (in the same way that you can’t say NZ SB is always better vfm/quality than Loire SB).


Oh I forgot Deutz £150 for 6 WS as against that looser esw on bin ends for £35 read the term bin end. Just how smug do you need to be. Oh nearly forgot the recent growers offer for castelnau approx £21 oh dear me bolly £26.25 must be the impending doom of brexit shortages. Get real it’s a rip off from bloated life stylers.

I’ve had BBR own brand Hambledon and it was very good. Much better than a lot of champagnes. I also had a still English recently that was very good and much better than a lot of Chablis/Burgundy at the same price


This thread has drifted from supermarkets offers to the respective merits of SEW (sparkling English Wines ) against Champagne and (urghh) cheese.

Whatever the reasons given, I cannot remember a year in which Champagne has not been greatly reduced in price by supermarkets this time of year.

I’ve just had a look at what I have left in the way of fizz:

Champagne 26 + 11 halves
(Other French 9)
England 13
Spain 11
South Africa 5
California 5
(all but one are traditional method, and all but 22 from Pinot family grapes).

This year we have had at least one bottle of fizz every week, and I expect to deplete the cellar more during the 5 days of Christmas when my son and his partner visit from Wales.

But there will be again deep discounts on fizz after Christmas if previous years are an indicator.

(for the record, I love Champagne but I’d prefer other regions to use other grapes. I don’t need to buy a champagne look-like when I can as easily get Champagne.)


Champagne, hugely over priced stuff in my opinion considering the value available from elsewhere.
Some years ago (about 10 I think) they extended the appellation considerably and land prices soared by something like 500 times…Says it all really.

That’s one reason why one can get such large discounts. But when one can get Champagne at under £15 I wouldn’t say that’s wildly overpriced. The Aldi Veuve Monsigny Champagne made by Philizot & Fils at full price is £12.99 and consistently gets good write ups.

Champagne grapes must be planted in a specified area to a specified density, hand picked and the wine aged for a set minimum time, so other producers of sparkling wine who don’t face the same restrictions have a price advantage.

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Must admit I haven’t tried the Aldi Champagne at £12.99 because I thought it probably wouldn’t have been as nice as the magnificent cremant from Jura they have sometimes at around £8.

The supermarket’s huge Christmas reductions started a year or 2 after they extended the appellation. They had to flog it off cheap as the market wouldn’t wear the inflated prices on that amount of wine. In a way I think they shot themselves in the foot a bit. Prior to expansion folks believed that this was a premier product only available from a small area with a very special terroir. Making the appellation so much bigger and charging Champagne prices for wines made from elsewhere just because they were labeled Champagne kind of burst the bubble for me.

I’m sorry but the rules about picking by hand doesn’t add any value for me either. Does the wine taste any better for it, I doubt it. All wine has to be aged a minimum of time otherwise it’s undrinkable. A bunch of needless rules, if you ask me, to help develope the illusion of something being better than what it is. It’s a con like so many other high end products the French have become experts at selling us at hyper inflated prices.