The Trouble With Dreams is too much oxygen

I am taking a break from my series on South African wines to review The Trouble With Dreams, an English sparkling wine by Dermot Sugrue.

The Trouble With Dreams is a 60/40 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (sometimes up to 5% Pinot Meunier creeps in but let us not mention that).

It is brought up in 50% stainless steel and 50% oak oak demi-muids (600 litre barrels); Mr Sugrue feels the oak gives texture and finesse also opulence and complexity. He is a fan and I do not blame him.

There is usually malolactic ‘fermentation’ of the juice for The Trouble With Dreams, but not in 2015 as the wine was so ripe. The 2015 vintage was also a tiny one, with approximately a third the normal production of The Trouble with Dreams.

In 2020 Mr Sugrue’s Domaine was named boutique winery of the year at the WineGB awards. His multi-gong winning 2014 was delicious when I drank it a few weeks ago, but I am afraid I was far too pissed to even begin to write a note about it… I vaguely recall it seemed like a more energetic form of Gosset Grande Reserve – pretty serious fizz!

Finally, before we get down to it, Mr Sugrue is also a really lovely chap. I like wines made by lovely people, so it will please me in more ways than one if this wine is good!

Let us get drinking and writing!

The Trouble With Dreams 2015, Dermot SugrueThe Trouble With Dreams 2015, Dermot Sugrue

There is a lot of luxuriantly sun-ripened fruit on the nose of The Trouble With Dreams, apple, lemon, maybe, just maybe, a hint of something orange-y about it. That is all from the Chardonnay; the Pinot adds hints of cocoa and fresh raspberry.

The Trouble With Dreams seems very polished and smooth on the nose, ripe and voluptuary. This, together with a pronounced baked apple character, tells me something about the winemaking we shall get to shortly.

It is very ripe, but it also smells like it is going to be briskly acidic and fresh. The Trouble With Dreams also seems to have a good mineral tang to the nose which increases its already impressive complex character. The Trouble With Dreams seems very vinous, a character I like in my fizz.

However, that baked apple character as the lustrous, polished nature of the nose speak to me of oxidative winemaking. Some people like this in their fizz – it means you have to wait less time for it to be ready to drink, which is handy – but it does not bode well for the longevity of the wine. I am told they have sorted this out (somewhat), but the oxidative nature of Bollinger really put me off it. Bollinger 2002 was terribly oxidative.

This is down to personal preference, however, and there is no doubting this is the nose of a well-made and impressively complex fizz – it is just not in my preferred style.

The Trouble With Dreams does have good acidity to it and has a lovely, refined mousse; a silken spa for your uvula. There is a good chalky, mineral grip to the finish and The Trouble With Dreams is very long with fruit and mineral flavours and sensations swirling around your palate.

However, to me the fruit flavours on the palate, whilst being ripe and pleasing, seem a little heavy and ponderous on The Trouble With Dreams. It drags a little. I suppose it is possible that this is the product of 2015 being a very ripe vintage, but it seems more likely to me that The Trouble With Dreams is made in slightly too much of an oxidative style to really tweak my fancy as I swirl it around my palate.

This is my personal preferences getting in the way of an objective review. What I should say about The Trouble With Dreams is that it is an excellent wine that you should drink in preference to Bollinger whenever you have the option. The Trouble With Dreams is made from excellent fruit and then tended with care throughout the winemaking process. I would tend to do it differently.

Yes, The Trouble With Dreams is better than Bollinger! It is even more lively and energetic than Gosset Grande Reserve with a better sense of place. In all honesty, if I were paying I would rather drink it than either of those two Champagnes. The only thing is, I would not choose to drink any of them. The Trouble With Dreams is damned good fizz, just has seen too much oxygen for my tastes.

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For my next review I will be returning, for at least one (but probably more) wine(s), to my recent theme of South African wine with a review of Paul Sauer 2017 from Kanonkop.