The English wine industry is in a sweet spot – young enough to be filled with energy and untapped potential; established enough to have momentum, a burgeoning reputation and wines of incredible quality.
It’s not just in the vineyards that you see this, but also in the winemaking talent which is attracted to the region. At Gusbourne, we’re incredibly lucky to have a small but brilliantly talented team – up-and-coming winemakers who challenge and inspire Charlie Holland, our Chief Winemaker, as well as making their mark.
To showcase these rising-star talents – as well as foster their ambitions – we created our Winemakers’ Edition bottlings. Each of these limited-release wines is a passion project from the team. And, through each experiment, we learn more about our fruit, our terroir and the potential of our winemakers.
The first release under this label was Middle Barn Chardonnay from Sussex. This still white wine, made by Mary Bridges, Alastair Benham and Sara Dooley, was a sell-out success. You can read more about the time, care and thought which went into the wine here.
Our current release is Wild Ferment Chardonnay, a project from Tom Jones. This highly successful still white wine is made using only the native yeast from the vineyard. “We started looking at this around four vintages ago,” says Tom.
“It started with two barrels; then four; last year was six. For this vintage, we have eight. Each has turned out to be unique and each has been better than the last. So far, it has just been experimental. We’ve never released any of the wines – until now.”
The resulting wine has unique characteristics, but stylistically it still sits within the Gusbourne range. “It’s quite tropical, with gooseberry and elderflower notes. It’s incredibly aromatic, but with this mineral character too and typical Chardonnay citrus,” says Tom. “It’s got a nice, pithy quality. It’s broad and quite voluptuous. It’s a big wine.”
So what’s next? Our Gusbourne members have recently been given a preview of the new release from Mary and Alastair, a Pinot Noir Blanc 2022. The duo decided to try this unusual style – a still white wine made from red grapes – because, well, it hasn’t been tried before.
Mary and Alastair thought the delicate, light, red-fruit profile of our Sussex grapes could be elegantly captured in a still white wine. Charlie, who gave the duo the nod to use this coveted fruit, agreed that this was an experiment worth making.
This ethos – challenge, experiment, assess, learn and go again – is at the very heart of Gusbourne. It drives the way we make wine; it changes the way we grow grapes. It pushes us to constantly evolve in ways large and small. After all, you have to be prepared to take the risk to reap the reward.
Our members are the first to know about our new Winemakers’ Edition bottlings. You can find out more about membership here. The current Winemakers’ Edition release, Tom’s Wild Ferment Chardonnay, is available here.