Contrasts from Arras and Gusbourne

No, this is not an Ashes 2019 warm-up...

We drank these two bottles together with friends. There's no particular link between them - it's just that drinking wines alongside other wines can alter your perception of them, especially if you dip back and forth. Whether you like it or not it becomes a comparative exercise rather than a purely objective one, and you end up perceiving things that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. For that reason I've kept them together.

Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2013, Appledore, Kent
55% Pinot Noir, 27% Pinot Meunier, 18% Chardonnay. 3 years on lees, dosage 9 g/l. 2013 is such an interesting year in England. It was cool, late and with higher acids than normal - some have called it more of a Pinot year, but the reality is that the good Chardonnay-based wines seem to have showed more character and length (at least for me). This has really benefited from a bit of cellar time, with grilled red apple, pear and apricot kernel richness touched with herbs and white blossom. There's some muted strawberry sweetness here but it's definitely orchard-fruit dominated, fresh and direct, feeling just a little sweet'n sour on the palate. This is good but the Blanc de Blancs 2013 is the pick from this vintage (the 2014 Brut Reserve is really the wine this cuvée wants to be - it is superb and shows the effect of a much better growing season). 88

House of Arras Grand Vintage 2007, Tasmania
78% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir. Eight years on lees. Arras strikes again with a highly distinctive, fascinating wine. Some vegetal parting shots (my friend said celeriac and I can't really disagree) drift away to crystallised yellow grapefruit and milky papaya, stony oyster with sage and juniper. Toffee yoghurt runs through the palate which is creamy, richly-textured and shot through with pithy seville orange and sweet butter. The acidity and slightly raspy grip play a long, delicious game on the finish. Subtle it is not - multifaceted and delicious is certainly is. 93

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