Sekt, but the serious version
Sekt – Germany’s term for sparkling wine – has long held a reputation as a bulk-produced, easy-drinking category. Though this may be true for the vast majority, the real interest lies in the proportion (said by the German Sekt trade association to be 1.7%) regarded as ‘serious’ Sekt, made using the traditional, bottle-fermented method. I embarked on a journey during harvest 2023 to explore. The following are a few favourites.
In Rheingau, Barth’s Ultra Brut Nature 2015, made with Pinot Noir, achieved a fantastic balance between freshness and a maturing, complex palate. From Rheinhessen, the Raumland, Reserve Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2014 puts on a show of Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris – toasty lemon sorbet and creamy pastry, dusted with ginger and sweet spices, nutty with plenty of drive.
Pfalz biodynamic producer Eymann’s Cuve?e No420 Rose? Brut 2020 boasts great structure and lovely red fruit depth on the back palate. Equally impressive is the No420 Extra Brut 2020, shining with vibrant citrus fruits and a mineral, elegant mouthfeel. From another Demeter-certified family producer in Pfalz, Frank John’s Riesling Brut Nature 2018 showcases the true potential of Germany’s signature grape as a sparkler – no sulphur dioxide added, plus 41 months on lees, leads to a polished, saline palate, extremely rich in umami with nutty depth and a rounded texture.
With the tagline ‘Born in Africa. Made in Britain’, Severan bills itself as the first British sparkling wine that’s black-owned and funded – 80% of investors are black and brown. It is British (not English) bubbly, as even though it gets its second fermentation and bottling at Hampshire’s Penn Croft/Itasca winery (left on lees for 2.5 years), the Chardonnay grapes were picked in South Africa’s Franschhoek region and the base wine made at Mo?reson. Named after Rome’s first African emperor, Lucius Septimius Severus, the label is the brainchild of music manager Dumi Oburota (who launched rapper Tinie Tempah’s career, among others). Oburota saw the rising popularity of English sparkling wine, yet was irked that the brands didn’t represent those around him drinking it. His aim was to create a ‘legacy brand’ that reflected his own African roots as well as the ‘diversity and excellence of Britain’s black culture’.
Launched in June, the Severan Black Label Brut NV (£46 severan.co.uk) has aromas of almonds and yellow orchard fruit that continue on the palate alongside a lemon posset creaminess. Not as racy as many non-vintage cre?mants, Cap Classiques or English sparklings, but the generous, ripe fruit will appeal to fizz fans – albeit those with deep pockets.
Chile’s cool climate stars
Concha y Toro’s technical director Marcelo Papa is responsible for the success of big brands such as Casillero del Diablo. But when I caught up with him at Decanter HQ recently (above), we talked about a smaller project that’s arguably closer to his heart: Amelia from Limari? Valley. Papa has been working in this region since the 1990s, with a vineyard of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir planted in 2.5ha blocks, 22km from the Pacific ocean. ‘Limari? is cool climate, but it’s cloudy, so there’s less sunlight. We have a similar number of degree days to Burgundy and Oregon,’ he adds, explaining that he wanted to make ‘a very classic style of Chardonnay’ in the Burgundian model.
The new release of Amelia Chardonnay 2022 (93pts) combines poised, linear acidity with textured creaminess, bright citrus and a chalky mineral freshness, plus subtle tropical and citrus aromas. Amelia Chardonnay 2021 (95pts; £39 The Wine Society) has the same subtle tropical signature, but the extra year in bottle gives greater expression and harmony….
Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/editors-picks-november-2023-514246/