Great British Sparkling Wine

Results 2021

The results are in for the Great British Sparkling Wine Awards – find out what our judges’ voted the best performers from this exciting category.

We all know that there’s been a lot of noise around the local wine scene – particularly for the sparklers. But is it justified?

On this evidence, the answer is yes… just.

Ten years ago, tasting a line-up of British sparklers might have had an element of novelty about it, and tasters could perhaps have been inclined to cut them some slack. But now the category is well established, and our judges were quick to come down on anything they didn’t like.

Charles Carron Brown on flight #2
Scores were solidly high for ESW
Chris, Andres and Raphael in thoughtful mode

Nobody would pretend that it’s easy to make wine in the UK, even sparkling. But though the region is often compared to champagne, there’s more wind and rain and less regular sunshine than northern France, which means winemakers often need nerves of steel.

In the less successful wines (as with poor champagnes) the problem was usually hard, green fruit being unsuccessfully hidden by a rather too high dosage level. 

Having said that, half of the entries here scored 90 points or higher, which is impressive.

Some of the wines with big personalities saw their scores held back by one or two tasters who didn’t appreciate the style, so it’s worth reading the tasting notes.

All in all, given that the majority of the wines here were priced from £15-25 (before you start negotiating) there are plenty of good options here for your list.

Breaky Bottom vineyard in Sussex. Pic by Peter Whitcomb on Geographe, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As a final footnote, it’s worth pointing out that some pretty well-known names elected not to enter wines to this tasting because they ‘don’t enter competitions’. So the next time a producer is telling you how amazing they are, it’s worth asking them whether they ever put themselves to the test against their peers in a blind tasting.

If they don’t, well… you’ve only got their word to go on about how good they are.

GB Sparkling Wine – The Results

Great British Sparkling Wine Awards 2021

Full list of award winning wines from The Sommelier Collective Awards.
ScoreProducerWineImporterTasting note
96Digby Fine EnglishVintage Reserve Brut 2013Armit Wines
Price £27.00
White flowers, saline and citrus - I adore the oxidative style of this wine, with oak hemmed in by tense citrus fruit.' Joshua Castle; 'Yeasty and savoury, but balanced with fruit. Long finish - this would work well with food.' Guillaume Mahaut; 'Yeasty and creamy, like a lemon almond croissant! Rich and concentrated.' Chris Goodale.
95Hambledon VineyardPremiere Cuvee NV, HampshireMentzendorff
Price £20.00
Ripe stonefruit, grapefruit and citrus with creamy mousse. Complex and balanced.' Klearhos Kanellakis; 'Apples, lemon, toast and almond blossom. Fine-beaded, persistent and balanced.' Emanuel Pesqueira; 'Good balance of old vintage notes. A complex, powerful palate, but balanced.' Guillaume Mahaut.
93Digby Fine EnglishNon Vintage BrutArmit Wines
Price £23.50
Loads of red apple, croissant and citrus. Bright acidity and bright, tiny bubbles. A classic - and great value.' Andres Ituarte; 'Lemon curd, brioche, apple and spice. Good for by the glass.' Chris Goodale; 'Great open nose of cranberries and strawberries. This is good value.' Harry Ballman.
92GusbourneBlanc de Blancs 2016, KentGusbourne
Price £31.50
Chalky nose with bright, green and citrus fruit. It's delicate and yeasty, but good. Complex.' Guillaume Mahaut; 'Fresh orchard fruits, melon and spice with a creamy finish.' Chris Goodale; 'Lemon meringue, with a delicate bready character. Good freshness.' Raphael Thierry.
92RidgeviewBlanc de Blancs 2016, SussexBibendum
Price £40.00
Fresh apples and apple blossom, with a ripe, round palate and bright acidity.' KK; 'Great brioche nose, with stone fruit and lemony complexity. High quality fruit.' MR; 'Bright, pure, zesty honey and apples with breezy lemony acidity.' CL
92Breaky BottomCuvée Michelle Moreau Brut 2014, SussexCorney & Barrow
Price £29.96
Subtle stoney aromas. The palate is stern and serious. A lean, classic style.' Joshua Castle; 'Fresh and intense lemon character. Focused wine, creamy and balanced with an elegant yeasty character.' Raphael Thierry; 'Tart, but in a good way, with lots of yeasty notes. White fruits and a long perfumed finish.' Andres Ituarte.
91Roebuck EstatesClassic Cuvée 2014, SussexRoebuck Estates
Price £20.83
Really pretty nose. I love the subtle orchard fruit and citrus characters! Palate is delicious too - creamy and yeasty. Really lovely wine.' Charles Carron Brown; 'Delicate lemon flavours, round and creamy with good balance.' Guillaume Mahaut; 'Subtle nose, but the palate delivers - fleshy stone fruit.' Joshua Castle.
91Roebuck EstatesBlanc de Noirs 2015, SussexRoebuck Estates
Price £24.95
Red berry fruit with tart lemon/lime citrus and mineral on the palate.' Chris Goodale; 'Lemon curd and melon. Intense fruit. Creamy and winey with a refreshing finish.' Raphael Thierry; 'Red berry nose with a fruity palate - this is complex, balanced and long.' Guillaume Mahaut.
91Roebuck EstatesRosé de Noirs 2016, SussexRoebuck Estates
Price £22.50
Raspberries, strawberries and cream and a touch of salt. Elegant and very good.' Andres Ituarte; 'Tart, fresh and good intensity. Lovely wine.' Chris Goodale; 'Dark cherry, red apple and nectarines. Vibrant and well-balanced.' Emanuel Pesqueira.
90The GrangeClassic NV, HampshireThe Grange
Price £20.24
Stony nose with some subtle yellow fruit. A reductive style, but tense and dry with a lovely chalky texture.' Joshua Castle; 'Lovely balance, with plenty of fresh orchard fruits. Lively and exciting - a great aperitif wine.' Charles Carron Brown; 'Citrus, stonefruit, raspberries and cherries. Long length. Complex andn well-balanced.' Klearhos Kanellakis.
90Lyme Bay WineryBlanc de Blancs 2016Lyme Bay Winery
Price £18.30
Peach, melon and nuts with zippy acidity.' Andres Ituarte; 'Quite simple, but fresh and fruity.' Raphael Thierry; 'Lovely fruits and good complexity for the money.' Guillaume Mahaut.
90Bolney Wine EstateBlanc de Blancs 2017, West SussexBolney Wine Estate
Price £30.99
Toasty brioche and orchard fruits. Very showy and aromatic. An open and relaxed style.' Joshua Castle; 'Bruised tree fruits and yeasty notes, with hints of white flowers. Classic Blanc de Blanc.' Andres Ituarte; 'Pineapple and exotic stone fruit; lees and oak. Quite developed.' Harry Ballman.
90Hambledon VineyardClassic Cuvee Rose NV, HampshireMentzendorff
Price £30.00
Red apple, spices, mushroom and white strawberry. Complex and different, but with excellent balance.' Emanuel Pesqueira; 'Pure red fruits and bready notes. Rich and rustic with a long, grippy finish. Needs food, ideally.' Andres Ituarte; 'Wow! There's a lot here. Red cherries, rhubarb, raspberry and floral notes. Persistent and lively. Exciting wine!' Charles Carron Brown.
90Biddenden VineyardsSparkling Ortega Demi-Sec 2019, KentBiddenden Vineyards
Price £13.76
Beautiful elderflower character - the sweet aromatic flavours are balanced with the freshness and bubbles. This could work very well with food.' Raphael Thierry; 'This wine has real personality and pizzaz. Something different that could work wonderfully with the right dessert.' Andres Ituarte. 'Fruity, floral, tropical and sweet.' Klearhos Kanellakis;
89RidgeviewBloomsbury NV, SussexBibendum
Price £17.90
Lime, green apples and peaches with a vinous finish. Flinty, fruity and mineral, this is quite complex for the price.' KK; 'Pretty nose, with fine mousse and a dry finish.' MR,
89The Althorne EstateHigh House Classic Cuvee 2019, EssexAlthorne Estate
Price £20.00
Fruity, floral and perfumed. Pretty nose with a fine mousse and some complexity.' Guillaume Mahaut; 'Lovely nose of rose petals, tulips and wild strawberries. Racy palate.' Charles Carron Brown; 'Red fruit, citrus and a lot of lees on the palate.' Klearhos Kanellakis.
87All AngelsClassic Cuvée Long Aged on Lees 2014, BerkshireAlliance Wine
Price £29.21
Smoky, savoury - not the most complex wine, but ok.' Harry Ballman; 'Tart, green apple nose, with a fleshier mouthfeel than expected on the palate. Finish rather short.' Joshua Castle.
87Divergent DrinksFitz Sparkling Brut NVBibendum
Price £13.00
Lemon, white peach, apple and green pear with balanced acidity. Simple, but well made.' Emanuel Pesqueira; 'White melon and nectarine. High acid, but not volatile.' Andres Ituarte
87Lyme Bay WinerySparkling Rosé NVLyme Bay Winery
Price £17.45
Floral, with sweet red fruits like pink grapefruit and rhubarb. Fit for purpose.' Charles Carron Brown; 'Red fruit and flowers with a fragrant bitterness on the finish.' Raphael Thierry.
87All AngelsClassic Cuvée Sparkling Rosé 2014, BerkshireAlliance Wine
Price £29.21
Cranberries, strawberries and rose petals. Well-integrated wild flower aromas.'Tart and mineral with a good intensity and a decent finish.' Chris Goodale.
86Hambledon VineyardClassic Cuvee NV, HampshireMentzendorff
Price £18.00
Rich, honeyed nose, but slightly unbalanced acidity.' Harry Ballman; 'Bruised fruits, with a sharp, green palate.' Guillaume Mahaut.
86The Althorne EstateHigh House Sparkling Rose 2019, EssexAlthorne Estate
Price £22.00
Cherry compote and creamy mousse. Rich - better with food.' Andres Ituarte; 'Almost a sherbet aroma of very ripe red fruits.' Charles Carron Brown
85Lyme Bay WineryClassic Cuvée 2016Lyme Bay Winery
Price £17.45
Green apples, citrus and brioche. Quite high dosage but a refreshing, fruity finish.' Klearhos Kanellakis; 'Ample fruit, but rather clipped on the palate.' Joshua Castle.
85The GrangePink NV, HampshireThe Grange
Price £21.43
Garden berries, cream and green apple, but unbalanced acids on the finish.' Andres Ituarte; 'Cranberries and pink grapefruit, with a slight bitterness on the palate.' Emanuel Pesqueira.
84Mountfield WineryClassic Cuvée NV, SussexTop Selection
Price £22.31
Very fresh, vibrant fruit.' Charles Carron Brown; 'Grapefruit and green apples. Steely.' Emanuel Pesqueira.

How The Tasting Worked

Our tasters were aware of each wine’s price, vintage, and the varieties used in making it, but nothing else.

We asked them to score the wines out of 100, bearing in mind typicity, food-friendliness, versatility and readiness to drink, using the guidelines below.

Harry Ballman makes notes
  • 80-85 – the wine is adequate, but probably not to be considered for your list.
  • 86-90 – the wine is reasonably good – and would be considered for a list if it came from a supplier you currently use. Acceptably priced.
  • 91-95 – the wine is very good and you would be keen to list it – maybe even dropping an existing wine to make way for it. Overdelivers for the money.
  • 96-100 – the wine is exceptional, and you would actively seek it out and be keen to sell it, even if you had to drop something else or take on a new supplier to do so. Very much overdelivers for the money.

GB Sparkling Wine Awards Tasting – Judges’ Recommendations

At the Collective, we know that you guys love to get recommendations from your peers. So we asked our judges at the British Sparkling Wines tasting to pick out their own personal favourite wine from the tasting.

It didn’t need to be one of the highest scoring or most expensive wines; just something that they really liked – for whatever reason.

And of course, if they liked it, maybe you will too.

All of these, in other words, are well worth a look. But on this evidence if you only check out one new winery, it should probably be Digby.

Joshua Castle

Digby Fine English Vintage Reserve Brut 2013 (96 points)

A compelling nose, with aromas of white flowers and saline citrus rind. I adore the subtle oxidative style, which features a subtle oak character hemmed in by tense citrus and smokey flavours. It’s a gastronomic style that would make a fitting counterpart to savoury food – particularly if it’s served in large format glasses or even decanted.

£27.00, Armit

Emanuel Pesqueira

Hambledon Vineyard Premiere Cuvée nv, Hampshire (92 points)

There’s a great balance here between fruit and acidity and between primary aromas (such as fruit) and secondary aromas such as brioche and autolysis. It’s got a long lingering finish and superb complexity – excellent price for the quality of the wine. I’d serve it with turbot in a caviar champagne sauce.

£20, Mentzendorff

Andres Ituarte

Digby Fine English Non Vintage Brut (93 points)

There’s lovely acidity in this wine that perfectly balances the dosage. It’s a very classic – and classy – sparkling wine that I think would be very versatile. Good as an aperitif, of course, but also paired with shellfish, seafood – even caviar.

£23.50, Armit

Raphael Thierry

Breaky Bottom Cuvée Michelle Moreau Brut 2014, Sussex (92 points)

This is a really typical English sparkling wine – fresh, focused and creamy. There’s an intense lemon character but it’s taut and balanced with an elegant, yeasty finish. Excellent!

£29.96, Corney and Barrow

Chris Goodale

Digby Fine English Non Vintage Brut (93 points)

With lemon curd on brioche toast and fresh lime rind with a sprinkling of nutmeg, this is complex and even slightly oxidative, but with really good depth. The presence of 25% Meunier brought in a lovely spice and fruit texture. It could be a great by the glass option for people who like a dynamic ESW.

£23.50, Armit

Charles Carron Brown

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvée Rosé nv, Hampshire (90 points)

This wine really gives you a lot. It’s very pretty and exciting, with bags of fresh rhubarb and red cherries. It’s floral and very persistent with a fresh, vibrant palate. It’s great as an aperitif or with seafood or fresh vegetables. It’d be a great addition to any list, at a price that’s well worth the money.

£30, Mentzendorff

Harry Ballman

Digby Fine English Vintage Reserve Brut 2013 (96 points)

Vinified in oak, this is rich and rounded but structured, too, with well-balanced acidity. Chardonnay dominant, there’s a honeyed, butterscotch note, held in place by vibrant and juicy citrus. It has vibrancy and personality – a premium by the glass alternative to Champagne. Great for Dover sole meunière.

£27.00, Armit

Klearhos Kanellakis

The Grange Classic nv, Hampshire (90 points)

There are fresh citrus, stone fruit, raspberries, cherries and brioche in this wine – a real complexity of aromas. But the mouthfeel is good, too. There’s a creamy mousse to go with the good concentration, and the acidity isn’t aggressive. The finish is long. I’d serve this by the glass, and it would be great paired with scallops or oysters.

£20.24 from The Grange; claire@thegrangehampshire.co.uk

Guillaume Mahaut

Digby Fine English Vintage Reserve Brut 2013 (96 points)

This wine absolutely ticks all of the boxes. It’s a great nose – savoury and yeasty, with ripe, bruised fruit. But it’s perfectly balanced, with a long finish. I’d serve this with meaty fish such as turbot or brill.

£27.00, Armit

GB Sparkling Wine Awards Tasting – List Champions

One of the things that makes our Awards tastings unique is that they’re totally focused on the on-trade. Not just because they’re judged by sommeliers, but also because we ask our tasters to select wines for very specific restaurant list roles.

These include Best for By The Glass, Best for Group Dining and Best for Preservation System. But we also give out an award for the best overall wine in the tasting (Best in Class) and for the wine with the best score to price ratio – Best Value.

They’re a bit different – certainly we don’t know of any other competition that has an award system like this. But these awards are highly practical – designed to reward wines whose style, price and quality all make them perfect for the job.

We hope you like them and find them useful.

And many congratulations to our winners, who have come through three rounds of judging to pick up these awards.

Best in Class

Digby Fine English Vintage Reserve Brut 2013

This award goes to the wine with the best overall score, with the 2013 Digby Vintage Reserve narrowly fighting off the Hambledon Premiere Cuvée. Three of our judges also picked it as their favourite overall wine in the Judges’ Recommendations.

It wasn’t the cheapest wine in the tasting, but nor was it the most expensive, and with plenty of extra bottle age, our tasters all felt that you got an awful lot of wine for your money.

Digby Vintage 2013

‘White flowers, saline and citrus – I adore the oxidative style of this wine, with oak hemmed in by tense citrus fruit.’ Joshua Castle

‘Yeasty and savoury, but balanced with fruit. Long finish – this would work well with food.’ Guillaume Mahaut

‘Yeasty and creamy, like a lemon almond croissant! Rich and concentrated.’ Chris Goodale

£27.00, Armit

Best Value for Money

Lyme Bay Winery Blanc de Blancs 2016

On one level, this is a very straightforward award – it goes to the wine with the best price to score ratio. Based purely on this calculation, the Fitz charmat-method (87 points, £13 from Bibendum) would win.

But our judges also felt that any List Champion should have a minimum score of 90 – which left us with the Biddenden Ortega demi-sec or the Lyme Bay Blanc de Blancs 2016.

And while half our tasters loved the Ortega – a steal at £13.76 – it’s an unusual style and not everyone ‘got it’. The Lyme Bay, they felt, was less polarising, and still delivered a lot of quality for the money – especially in the ‘100% Chardonnay’ field, where it was the cheapest by some distance.

Lyme Bay Blanc de Blancs

‘Peach, melon and nuts with zippy acidity.’ Andres Ituarte

‘Light and subtle but unfurls nicely on the palate. Good value for money.’ Josh Castle

‘Lovely fruits and good complexity for the money.’ Guillaume Mahaut

£18.30, Lyme Bay Winery, info@lbwdrinks.co.uk

Best for By The Glass

Roebuck Estates Classic Cuvée 2014, Sussex

The winner here needs to do two things: be easy-going enough to drink on its own (especially important for fizz, obviously) but also to have enough weight to go with food. Since this is, effectively, in the ‘house pour’ category, our judges also wanted a very classic expression of English sparkling wine.

And that is what we got from the elegant, delicate, balanced Roebuck. A new name on the ESW scene, they’re not a winery that most of you are likely to be familiar with. Their impressive scores in this tasting suggest that, on this evidence, you should be.

Roebuck 2014

‘Really pretty nose. I love the subtle orchard fruit and citrus characters! Palate is delicious too – creamy and yeasty. Really lovely wine.’ Charles Carron Brown

‘Delicate lemon flavours, round and creamy with good balance.’ Guillaume Mahaut

‘Subtle nose, but the palate delivers – fleshy stone fruit.’ Joshua Castle

£20.83, Roebuck Estates; danielle@roebuckestates.co.uk

Best for Group Dining

Digby Fine English Non Vintage Brut

For the Group Dining award our judges were looking for a wine that was a slight financial and stylistic upgrade on By the Glass and was also made in a non-controversial, crowd-pleasing style.

This nv Digby rounded off a spectacularly successful tasting for the West Sussex estate, with consistently high scores, two List Champion awards and multiple peer-recommendations from our judges.

Digby NV

‘Loads of red apple, croissant and citrus. Bright acidity and bright, tiny bubbles. A classic – and great value.’ Andres Ituarte

‘Lemon curd, brioche, apple and spice. Good for by the glass.’ Chris Goodale

‘Great open nose of cranberries and strawberries. This is good value.’ Harry Ballman

£23.50, Armit

Best for Preservation System

Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvée Rosé nv, Hampshire

Having a wide range of wines on by the glass-pour can really add something to the list. For this award, our tasters were happy not to play it safe and were looking for wines with big personality.

A case was rightly made for the Biddenden Ortega, but in the end they went for this powerful, food-friendly Hambledon pink. Not everyone loved it, but those who did totally fell for its charms – which is almost the definition of a Preservation System wine.

Hambledon Rosé NV

‘Red apple, spices, mushroom and white strawberry. Complex and different, but with excellent balance.’ Emanuel Pesqueira

‘Pure red fruits and bready notes. Rich and rustic with a long, grippy finish. Needs food, ideally.’ Andres Ituarte

‘Wow! There’s a lot here. Red cherries, rhubarb, raspberry and floral notes. Persistent and lively. Exciting wine!’ Charles Carron Brown

£30, Mentzendorff

Many thanks to the Collective members who tasted this category (in alphabetical order): Harry Ballman, Cépage; Charles Carron Brown, Henrock; Joshua Castle, Noble Rot; Chris Goodale, Frederic Bistro; Andres Ituarte, Tamarind Collection; Klearhos Kanellakis, Eksted at The Yard; Guillaume Mahaut, ETM Group; Emanuel Pesqueira, 67 Pall Mall; Raphael Thierry, Bon Vino.

And last, but not least, many, many thanks to Collective member, Andre Luis Martins, and his team at the Royal Cavalry and Guards Club on Piccadilly for looking after us all so brilliantly on the day – even providing us with an unexpected crème brulée!