Quality was hard to find in this most competitive of segments, as indeed was value for money
As you might expect at this price category, the majority of the entries here were champagne, with a handful of Franciacortas and the odd cool-climate New World wine with serious pretensions. And as now seems to be a regular occurrence, the panel were generally disappointed with much of what came in at this level.
‘There were a fair few wines here that wanted to be champagne, but didn’t have the class,’ said one taster, not realising that much of what he’d just dismissed was, in fact, champagne, which perhaps says something about the lower levels of the world’s most famous fizz region.
Meanwhile, the double-digit price rises of the last year or so left our tasters shaking their heads. At a time of customer cut backs, it’s tough to sell fizz at £50 a bottle, meaning these wines really needed to over deliver. That no wines in this ultra-competitive category made the Gold List tells its own story.
The quality of what was in the bottle was mostly OK. But price was a major issue. It was always a question not so much of whether a wine was good enough to go through as whether I’d be able to sell it. Mike Harrison, WW Harrison
Lallier Grand Cru Grande Reserve NV
£14.30 @ Boutinot Ltd
Good brioche nose, honey citrus and apple well balanced with some toasty complexity. Rich and full, with good weight.
Devaux Grande Reserve NV
£16.91 @ Liberty Wines
Rich soft citrus fruit: lemons and limes with a bed of apples underneath. Buttery biscuits add weight, and the finish is long.