When I began at BI 6 months ago I was absolutely amazed at the quality and range of wines we have in stock. As a big champagne fan I began browsing that section first and, completely by accident, I came across a Nyetimber historical tasting case.
For those new to English sparkling wines, here’s some general background info about Nyetimber:
Nyetimber is arguably Britain’s premier sparkling wine, with 20 years of toil, trial and triumph behind the brand. The winemakers are famously meticulous about quality; they did not produce a wine in 2012 as the standard simply wasn’t high enough (a bold decision for a small business!). Make no mistake, these chaps are serious winemakers, with wines of a quality to rival Champagne. Here's why:
The Nyetimber vineyards are planted on the same deep shard of limestone which stretches under the English Channel from Champagne to the south coast of England. So not only is this part of the UK blessed with a similar climate to Champagne, it shares the same soils and sub-soils – incredibly important when it comes to growing vines. Add the vision, hard work and not insignificant investment of the estate’s owners, and the foundations for a stunning brand are clearly laid.
Nyetimber work exclusively with Champagne grape varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The wines reflect both the passion for excellence of their team and the characteristics of each vintage. And, they are clearly doing something right - the wines regularly beat out famous Champenois to win top awards.
I myself have on two occasions pitted the 2001 Neytimber Blanc de Blancs against 1995 Taittinger Comtes, 1996 Jacquesson Avize and 1996 Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque in a blind tasting. It stood up very well, and everyone took it for a great champagne. I also took a magnum of the 2003 Nyetimber blanc de blancs with me on a recent trip to Champagne, where I shared it with a very good Champagne producer in Ay Grand Cru village. He though it was bloody good champagne … from Vertus village!
A Vertical Tasting
As you might guess by now, I could not believe how lucky BI was to secure such rare vintages direct from the Nyetimber oenotheque, including the winery’s first vintage 1992 (of which only a few bottles remain in the family’s cellars), 1996, 1998, the delicious 2001 (which I like so much), and 2003 - possibly the best vintage they have ever produced. I snapped up this case straight away and began to hunt for the missing vintages, hoping to build an exhaustive collection of all the wines ever produced by Nyetimber. Once I had all the vintages I could find, I emailed Nyetimber to explain my idea for a vertical Nyetimber tasting. Not only did they send me comprehensive details about each wine, they VERY kindly sent me the three vintages I was missing! My collection was complete, and I set out to organise what could very well be the largest Nyetimber tasting ever held.
The Full Lineup
As I had 15 different wines to taste, I asked some friends to join me. I won’t bore you with tasting notes for each wine, but the highlights certainly deserve mention:
1992 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs
A super complex nose of earthy and nutty notes. Incredible purity and freshness on the palate, with green tea, tobacco, white pepper. Intense, rich, opulent, long length – wow. This amazing.
95 pts MZ
1996 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs
Complex aromas of intense minerals, mushrooms, tobacco, hazelnut and marzipan. Rich and quite developed on the palate with lovely mushroom and yeasty notes. Very long finish.
93 pts MZ
1998 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs
Quite a mature nose of yeast, nuts, earth and brioche. Quite austere to taste - minerals with developed mushroomy notes.
91 pts MZ
2001 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs
An absolutely beautiful nose of dry chamomile and walnut, with strong autholytic aromas. An intense, mineral, sherbetty, yeasty palate. Very long.
93 pts MZ
2003 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs
There was a shocking 5 pt improvement when we switched from bottle to magnum – further proof that magnums are the best size for sparkling wine! A complex nose blending autholytic and aromatic notes: papaya, floral, honey. The palate is likewise incredibly complex, with lovely ripe pear and honey notes. This rivals top class champagne.
96 pts MZ
Have Your Own Nyetimber Tasting
We have persuaded Nyetimber to offer just 20 mixed cases of wines from their historical cellars, made exclusively for BI. I consider these a history of English sparkling wine in one case.