tim hall jol

Tim Hall from Scala Wine is a well known Champagne expert and importer specialising in a very carefully selected list of wines. A tasting that pits the NKOTB, English Sparkling, with the established global standard for what sparkling wine actually is, Champagne, did not escape his radar. Gratefully he shares his response here:

I think it is great. and I am entirely comfortable. It's all part of the fun of assessing wine - this is a wine specialist club, not a bench marking official outfit. Steven is obviously part of the story of this kind of face-off so a no-brainer for the club's marketing. I'm glad a club I am a member of is doing this tasting.

I don't care if Steven has a stake in UK wine; as long as the servings are properly blind and the pairs not too silly.  - ie I would hope the line-up is putting similar style or quality head to head. In the end non-professionals will say and vote for what they like. Champagne should never turn its back on those kind of assessments. They are important, as are totally professional judements or competition panels, but in a different way. Tripadvisor v the experts. 

My view is that there are many English sparkling wines that are as good or better than many champagnes. This is mostly because Champagne has a vast range of quality, produces a vast amount of wine with a long tail of quality.  So no surprise UK fizz sits on part of that tail. But there is a v limited amount of good vintage UK fizz and at upper mid to top end champagne always seems superior to me v all comers UK. For now, anyway. And there is a lot of UK dross too. 

Tim Hall



Add your name to our confidential database to receive more tips from Secret sommelier:

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.


Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch. 


It’s been a hot couple of weeks here trekking around northern Catalonia. From the homeland and backdrop to surrealist Salvador Dali’s world to dramatic remnants of the volcano park an hour away, this place is a land of rough-hewn vistas and rustic hospitality.


It’s a scorching summer evening in Regent’s Park and what is my glass is of premium importance. The fact that Britain is experiencing a thorough multi-day licking from the sun, is itself unconventional, as are the pourers at this evenings tasting: 4 wine producers from the appellation AOC Ventoux in the southern Rhone.


Carluccio's deli and restaurants are a high-street staple, where great flavours in food blend easily with quality wines on the list. Following the death of the charismatic founder, Antonio Carluccio, his spirit lives on in style and philosophy. Nick Breeze talks to Head of International Operations (especially where wine is concerned!), Mike Stocks about wine-list tips, food matching and the great man of "mof mof":


Winemaker and owner Nicola D’Auria greeted us at the entrance of this fascinating cantina. The winery and cellars have been designed by Rocco valentini in the shape of a vertical barrel in order to immerse the tasters senses in wine.


We use cookies to improve our website and your experience when using it. Cookies used for the essential operation of this site have already been set. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

  I accept cookies from this site.
EU Cookie Directive plugin by www.channeldigital.co.uk