English sparkling wine taste-off: Black Chalk Classic 2017 vs Nyetimber MV

I thought it would be fun to try two of the UK’s top sparkling wines side by side: Nyetimber’s current classic cuvée, and Black Chalk’s Classic 2017. After quite a bit of tooing and froing, I decided that I liked both equally, and that they are both world class. The Black Chalk has a bit more freshness and linearity, while Nyetimber has more of a sense of luxury and depth.

Black Chalk Classic 2017 Hampshire, England
12% alcohol. 40% Chardonnay and 30% each Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, with a dosage of 9 g/litre. This is focused and very pure with bright lemony fruit, and also some pear and apple richer notes. It’s all about the linear, chiselled fruit, with well-integrated acidity. There’s some richness under the fruit (there’s a reasonably high dosage here of 9 g/litre), but the emphasis is on the very fine fruit, with harmony, purity and balance. Having a high proportion of Pinot Meunier in the blend probably helps emphasize the fruit. 93/100

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée NV England
12% alcohol. 60% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Noir, 9% Pinot Meunier. 66% 2016, with contributions from four other vintages dating back to 2019. Disgorged in December 2020 with 9 g/l dosage. This is a really beautiful expression of English sparkling wine, with the reserve wines making their presence felt. It has a nose driven by ripe citrus fruit, with contributions from apricot, honey and almonds. The palate shows richness as well as freshness, with toast, spice, honey, pear and a touch of white peach. There’s good acidity, and this is in tension with the rich fruit and the slight sweetness of the dosage. This is generous, but it never veers towards heaviness or excess. Lovely stuff. 93/100

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