Drinking Outside The Box

With Simon Woods – wine for people who have a life

First Taste July 2009 Week 4

Six fizzes

Darcys Canard Duchene Tsarine

Champagne Pierre Darcys Brut NV (Asda £23.98)
Quite appealing initially with an aroma of chocolate limes, but the flavours are rather dusty, sweet and rather heavy, with that chocolate edge coming over a little stale. Not even sure that more time in bottle will be of benefit – there’s a general torpor to the wine that makes me think it’ll never be a star. Have a feeling that this was discounted to half-price or even less earlier this year; certainly it’s a bad buy at £20+, and even at £12, I’d rather have two bottles of half-decent Cava. 0

Champagne Canard-Duchêne Brut NV (Majestic £29.99)
This well-known house used to be owned by Veuve Clicquot, but since 2003 has belonged to Alain Thienot. The basic NV Brut is quite rich but fresh with it, with flavours of milk chocolate and toast mixing with the tang of pineapple and lemon. It’s OK as a drink, but it’s not the most subtle of fizzes, and the finish could use a little more elegance. It’s testimony to the magnificent marketing endeavours of the Champenoise that a wine like this can sell for £30 without many folk batting an eyelid. C(+)

Champagne Chanoine Tsarine Cuvee Premium Brut NV (~£25 contact Lanson UK)
Even before you taste this, the impression of of maturity comes through here, both in the way the cork remains compressed after opening and in the fine stream of bubbles. And sure enough, there’s a creamy softness to the wine, and little of the ugly sweetness that marred the Darcys wine. It’s not a stunna – beyond the richness, the flavours are a little simple and lack the brightness and elegance of fine Champagne – but it’s honest and tasty, and the best of this trio by a considerable margin. B(-)

Rocco Griffith Griffith Pink

Rocco Rose di Venezia (contact Matthew Clark)
Dried bananas!?! Quite bizarre, but it’s there in the mouth too. I’m really not sure about this. That banana edge just dominates the wine, but strangely I find myself thinking that a touch of sweetness would make for a far more successful wine. As it is, it feels like a very young fizz that would have benefited from a little more time to calm down in bottle. In its current state, it’s a gawky pre-teen. C-

Griffith Park Sparkling Brut (£6.98 Asda, Morrisons)
This is rounded creamy fizz, not at all subtle, like a Semillon/Chardonnay with bubbles in, but with its bouncy peaches and cream visage and hints of bread dough, it’s hard not to like. B

Griffith Park Sparkling Rose (£6.99 Asda, Morrisons, selected Tesco)
As with its white counterpart, this wouldn’t win marks for complexity, but it’s a pleasant enough wine with creamy red fruit and a soft friendly finish. B-

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Howard Park, Western Australia

Click here for notes on a sextet of the current releases from Howard Park in Western Australia.

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