New Zealand versus England: battle of the bubbles
Sparkling wines from New Zealand tasted blind against English fizz

This was a really interesting tasting. To tie in with the New Zealand versus England cricket match at the World Cup (I'm not saying anything more about this game), a fun chance to pit teams of English and Kiwi sparkling wines at each other, blind. The tasting was also held in New Zealand with the same wines.

We knew which wines had been selected (12 in each team), but we didn't know the order, or which team was which. In the end, it was pretty easy to tell the teams apart. As a contest? Well, it depends on your preference in terms of sparkling wines. The English wines had higher acidity, were a bit more serious and were a bit more expensive. The New Zealand wines were fruitier and more accessible, and well priced – I guess many of these were in the £8-15 price bracket while the English bottles were £20+.


I would say, however, that both teams were works in progress. English sparkling wine is in its infancy, and while New Zealand probably has more experience with fizz, the direction many of the wines have taken has likely been dictated by commercial constraints – what people are willing to pay for the wines.


Using the scoring system that the New Zealand tasting adopted (wine 1A versus wine 1B, etc) my scores were England 10.5, New Zealand 1.5. Kind of opposite to the actual cricket outcome!

New Zealand

No 1 Family Estate No 1 Cuvée Blanc de Blancs NV Marlborough, New Zealand
I tried two bottles of this and wasn't happy with either: there was just a faint hint of uncleanness – a sort of musty taint in the background. Lemony, herby and bright. Quite pure fruit but there's something not quite right under the surface? 82/100

Tohu Rewa Blanc de Blancs 2011 Marlborough, New Zealand
Lively, fruity with pear and white peach fruit. Very fruity and full with fresh pear fruiton the palate. Nice precision here. 90/100

Deutz Marlborough Cuvée Blanc de Blancs 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Very subtle herby edge to the ripe pear and apple fruit, and a bit of lemon. Very pure with nice texture. A fruity style with nice generosity. 90/100

Daniel Le Brun Blanc de Blancs 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Fresh, lively and vivid with nice citrus and pear fruit. Good acidity with subtle herbal hints. Vivid and fresh. 87/100

Hunters Miru Miru NV Marlborough, New Zealand
Lively and fresh with some subtle herbal notes, citrus, some pear. Nice texture. This is quite a structured wine. 88/100

Osawa Prestige Cuvée Méthode Traditionelle NV Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
There's a lactic, creamy edge to the nose, with some buttery notes. Lively and rounded, and very fruity with toasty creamy depth. Nice weight in the mouth. 90/100

Huia Brut 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Creamy and quite rich with subtle toastiness, and attractive pear and peach fruit. It is a distinctive,  wine with a soft creamy edge. Very appealing. 89/100

Quartz Reef Méthode Traditionelle 2009 Central Otago, New Zealand
Lovely vivid, fresh fruity nose. Very stylish with a subtle toasty edge. Classy, textured, rounded fruit here. Very stylish. 90/100

Seresin Moana Blanc 2009 Marlborough, New Zealand
Herby, slightly cabbage edge to the fresh, lively citrus fruit. Distinctive, bright and fruity. 87/100

Lindauer Special Reserve Brut Cuvée NV New Zealand
Light pink edge to the colour. Tight, fresh and citrussy with some herby notes. Vivid, high acid palate with nice purity. 89/100

Nautilus Cuvée Brut NV Marlborough, New Zealand
Very fruity and direct with bright citrus and some pear fruit. A fruity style with some pithy notes. 86/100

Akarua Rosé Brut NV Central Otago, New Zealand
Faint pink colour. Lively and toasty with nice fruit and some richness. Lovely fruit here: citrus, pear and a hint of cherry. Fruit driven and appealing. 88/100


Wiston South Downs Blanc de Blancs NV England
Very bright and fresh with lovely precise citrus fruit and some ripe apple. Pure with goood acidity. Linear and youthful 90/100

Coates and Seely Blanc de Blancs NV England
Very bright, fresh, linear and pure with keen citrus fruit and subtle toastiness. Classy and pure: serious. 92/100

Bluebell Hindleap Blanc de Blancs 2010 England
Creamy and bold with nice citrus and grapefruit characters. Lovely acidity with subtle whisky notes. 89/100

Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2007 England
Very keen, bright lemony acidity but also some ripe apple and pear notes. Fine toastiness and a hint of sweetness. Distinctive. 90/100

Plumpton The Dean Brut NV England
Lively and vivid with lovely purity. A linear wine with fine citrus fruit and a hint of toast. Pure, balanced and sophisticated with ripe apple character. 92/100

Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV England
Fine, creamy, toasty nose. Very stylish with vivid citrus fruit and lovely depth, kept fresh with keen acidity. Powerful. 91/100

Sugrue Pierre South Downs 2011 England
Very fine pure pear and citrus fruit. Quite linear and primary. Deliciously textured and fruited with well integrated acidity. 93/100

Wyfold Brut 2010 England
Powerful, intense and vivid with a creamy, toasty character and lively lemony acidity. Powerful with some herbal notes and a toasty finish. 90/100

Henners Brut Reserve 2010 England
Vivid, pure and fresh with subtle toast and herb notes. Nice intensity here. Very citrussy with high acidity. 89/100

Ambriel English Reserve Demi Sec NV England
Attractive pure pear and citrus fruit with some richness on the nose, and even a hint of melon. The palate is rich, ripe, vivid and powerful with a sweet character to the fruit. A seductive style. 90/100

Camel Valley White Pinot 2010 England
Very fresh, pure fruity style. Delicate with nice apple, pear and citrus fruit. Nice purity. 88/100

Hush Heath Estate Balfour Brut Rosé 2010 England
Pale pink. Fresh, vivid and focused with nice purity to the citrus and pear fruit. There's a hint of cherry too. Very attractive with high acidity and a hint of herbiness. 90/100

See also:

Visiting Central Otago, New Zealand (series)
Visiting Martinborough, New Zealand (series)

Wines tasted 02/15  
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