I reported last month on the blind tasting Anthony Rose and I did of 18 champagnes and sparklers priced at £20 and under. A couple of days after we did our tasting, I invited a group of eight consumers round to taste the same 18 wines to see whether they agreed with our assessments.
These were not experts, although they all like the odd glass of fizz, and it was perhaps slightly unfair to ask them to taste 18 different sparkling wines in one sitting. Even people working full time in the wine trade would find assessing this number of sparklers accurately in one go a pretty difficult task. However it did throw up some interesting results and amusing comments and while they didn’t completely agree with us by any means, they did generally like many of the wines we highlighted in the latter part of the tasting. They didn’t much enjoy the Veuve Devanley Brut NV (Morrisons £12) which we gave one of our highest scores to, though one taster picked up ‘biscuity notes’. The Chapel Down English fizz was universally well received and scored the highest marks.
Top ten fizzes consumers voted for with comments from the tasting panel:
Chapel Down Brut Vintage Réserve NV: “Fruity, pleasant aromas, very drinkable. Stylish label stands out from the others,” JH. “Surprisingly pleasant without any bitter aftertaste,” MT. “Really liked this, with marmitey notes. Liked label too,” LT. “Quite good, with a light bubbles,” PT. “Classy label, good fruit, nice finish. Kentishman done good,” NH.
Benoît Renaud Brut NV: “Light, refreshing, delicate fizz with fruity after taste leaves you wanting more,” JH. “Lighter aroma, very dry, pleasant and dry, suitable for a long session,” MT. “Well-balanced, peachy, highly drinkable, longer lasting on the Ashley,” NH. “Not as fruity as some but has lovely flavour. Could drink a lot of this,” ES.
Nicolas Feuillatte Grande Réserve Brut NV: “Like this, would pour it for the ChampagneGuru,” NH. “Fruity little number that stays on the palate,” ES. “Decent weight and richness on the palate, good finish,” CF.
Abel Chalot Brut NV: “Rounded dry and pleasant first taste, a good drop to end with,” MT. “Very good,” LT. “More flavoursome than most, relatively good,” ML.
De Vallois Brut NV: “Quite rich initial taste and warm, lingering flavour,” MT. “Quite nice aroma, hint of pear and a flavour that delivers,” ML.
Defontaine Brut NV: “A good party fizz and pre-dinner drink,” JH. “Powerful initial taste, aromatic, rounded on the plate, moderate length,” MT. “Very dry, fine aroma, dried apricots,” NH.
Laytons Brut Réserve NV: “Very bubbly and pleasantly dry, really tasted authentic,” MT. “Creamy, well-balanced,” NH.
Louis Delaunay Brut NV: “I liked this, nice and dry and smooth, I’d buy it,” LT. “Quite mellow with a long finish,” CF.
Andre Carpentier Brut NV: “Quite light, but nice flavour,” PT.
Comte de Senneval Brut: “Long and pleasant aftertaste, easy style I could drink all night,” JH.