Sparkling Masters 2017: results and analysis

Judge’s summary: Patricia Stefanowicz MW

What I liked: The best wines were glorious, justifying Silver and Gold awards. Finding good-value wines in the £10-£15 bracket, wines with delicious fruit and fresh bread or brioche notes, was a delight. Above £15, the wines seemed to have slightly more consistency in terms of depth and excitement, but not all of them were sparkling diamonds. Caveat emptor. The rosé sparklings were charming, showing well-defined red-berry fruit and gentle yeastiness, and seemed to give reasonable value for money.

What I didn’t like: The variability in quality or interest at the various price points was a disappointment. Especially at more than £20, I expected much more definition and refinement than some of the wines delivered. The sweeter styles didn’t always get the balance of flavour intensity, sweetness and acidity correctly. On a more positive note, the few Champagnes and one or two English sparkling wines we tasted were exemplary: concentration of flavour, lovely autolysis and well-judged, integrated dosage. Perhaps that explains why the two sides of the Channel and their limestone-chalky soils produce some of the best sparkling wines in the world?

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