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Two rare but brilliant English sparkling wines from Fox & Fox

2015 Fox & Fox, Mayfield, Essence Pure Chardonnay Brut  

£39.99, foxandfox.wine

I met Gerard Fox five or six years ago at a tasting. He mentioned that he and his wife Jonica had got into the wine game, back in 2004, by planting some vines, and that they were pretty happy with their early releases. I tasted their 2011 Mayfield, Essence Blanc de Blancs, back in 2016 and also their 2013 Mayfield Tradition Blanc de Noirs, in 2018, and wrote up both in my column for the Daily Mail. 

Each Fox & Fox release is tiny, a thousand bottles here and a thousand bottles there. Since the early days, the vines are finding their feet and two new releases are worthy of extremely high praise.

The 2015 Essence is sublime and it grows on the palate into a lovely crisp apple and lemon balm cocktail. It is a perfect paean to the great chardonnay grape. A slimline creature, with only 12% alcohol, it wears a generous 11.5g/L dosage, so this is a slender, but curvaceous wine. With superb class throughout, the nose starts quietly and it expands and relaxes into a delicious and thoroughly moreish creation. 

In addition, 2014 Fox & Fox, Mayfield, CV Chairman’s Vat Brut (£40, foxandfox.wine; £39.99, thebritishwinecellar.co.uk) is a tighter, more energetic and less louche number with only 8.5g/L dosage, and it is a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris. Dry, layered and intellectually stimulating, it is a brilliant wine with chalky, sour acidity on the finish and lush fruit throughout.

Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (matthewjukes.com)

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