NV Henners “Brut”, Herstmonceux, East Sussex, England (12% Alcohol, 7 g/L Residual Sugar) Noble Estates Consignment $69.99 (750ml bottle)
Whilst forward-thinking wine programs the world over have been all over the delights of English sparkling wines for years, it has taken Toronto a little while longer to embrace some of the lovely bubbles coming out of the south of the UK. Whilst I’m sure that the exchange rate doesn’t exactly help matters, it would be great to see more of this stuff as it always brings a warm smile to my face when I see quality English fizz in our market, as they often can really give those damn Champenoise a run for their money. Perhaps one of the only upsides to the precipitous omnishambles that is Brexit will be the plummeting British pound making these wines a little more affordable in Canada?
This lovely example of Brut non-vintage is a fine expression of what can be made from the Pinot Noir (38%), Chardonnay (34%), and Pinot Meunier (28%) planted to the four hectares of low altitude, southerly facing, sandstone-rich soils of the Henners estate in East Sussex, England. 85% of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation, with 10% seeing a ferment in older oak cooperage to add another layer of complexity, before being aged for four years on its lees.
This wine’s mousse is very lively at first, but visually dissipates after a short time in glass, however it still retains its fizz texturally. Interestingly enough, I actually found the wine to express itself in a much more resounding manner both aromatically and in the mouth after leaving it in the glass to open up a little, the wine’s nose of crunchy green apples, wildflower honey, and almost humid, proving-dough-like autolytic notes giving way to a wonderfully intoxicating oxidative/bruised fruit element that I found utterly bewitching. There’s a hell of a lot going on in this glass if one is patient enough to allow the wine to evolve. The wines drivingly persistent finish is most impressive also.
This wine is brand new to these shores and slowly being introduced to the market via Noble Estates’ consignment program. Expect to see Henners NV popping up on the lists of some of your favourite restaurants in the coming weeks/months…
(Four and a half apples out of a possible five)
Please note that the above bottles are of the Vintage Henners.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And this some pretty good stuff, and actually really opens up in the glass.