“To say it’s complex is just the start,” says Master Sommelier Laura Rhys of Fifty One Degrees North. Laura, our Global Ambassador, has a deep understanding of this newly released vintage wine. She has been tasting vintage 2014 throughout its ageing process, experiencing the way it has evolved since it was bottled in April 2015.
That development doesn’t stop once the bottle is opened. Over time in the glass, the wine reveals its complexity: from classic citrus notes to stone fruit, green apple and orchard fruit. "I get a really tasty, peachy, lemon posset flavour,” says Laura. “Mineral notes, of course – that’s typical of Gusbourne wines. And behind that there’s a creaminess on the palate – texturally this is a very interesting wine in the mouth. As well as the fruit character, there’s also these toasty, spicy, butterscotch and nutty tertiary notes that reveal themselves.”
The perfect serve
Laura recommends serving Fifty One Degrees North in a wider wine glass as opposed to a classic slim flute. This allows the breadth of aromas and flavours to develop more fully, enhancing the tasting experience.
As for temperature, Laura demurs to the Goldilocks rule: neither too warm nor too cold. While many sommeliers and winemakers recommend sparkling wine to be served at between 12 and 14 degrees centigrade, Laura doesn’t pin such prescriptive rules to enjoying wine. “It’s so subjective. I would just suggest taking the bottle out of the fridge 10 to 15 minutes before you’re going to serve it – it will release more aromas and show more of its character as the chill begins to ebb.”
When it comes to serving Fifty One Degrees North with food, Laura is excited about the possibilities. “It’s a wine that works tremendously well with food. Thanks to its complexity, Fifty One Degrees North is particularly well suited to more complex dishes.”
Asian cuisines spring immediately to mind. “I was speaking with a sommelier recently who was describing the opulent fruit notes which come through as the wine opens up in the glass. That kind of profile could work beautifully with Japanese foods and other aromatically charged dishes – not necessarily spice, but bold, layered flavours.”
Fifty One Degrees North will also work with seasonal, local ingredients.“I recently enjoyed it alongside turbot, with shrimp, courgette and sea greens, cooked by the superb Mark Birchall at two-Michelin-starred Moor Hall. It was an outstanding pairing,” she says.
“The wine speaks to what we’ve always wanted to achieve; what we always strive for,” says Laura. The skilful, highly crafted blend of two-thirds Chardonnay and one-third Pinot Noir, was aged on lees for 80 months.
“It’s all about that intersection between the terroir, the quality of fruit from our meticulously managed vineyards, and the skill and craftsmanship of Charlie Holland and the winemaking team,” says Laura. “Fifty One Degrees North has that wonderful balance: purity, elegance, complexity and really shows where it is from.”