One of our distinctive hallmarks is the fact we only craft vintage wines. In challenging years, this can be difficult: it takes a huge amount of skill to ensure our classic bottlings are consistently high quality. And, one of the most important tools we have at our disposal is the different characteristics of the fruit we grow across our sites.
Our chalk and flint vineyards in Sussex give grapes with freshness and elegance; our clay soils in Kent lend the fruit richness and depth.
This means that when we're creating our blends - typically from more than 200 base wines - we have all the components we need for consistent, top-quality sparkling.
But it's arguably even more interesting to experience these wines as a single-vineyard bottling rather than a blend. By zeroing in on a particular parcel of grapes, you truly experience the essence of that terroir and that year.
Our new releases, from the stellar 2018 vintage, give a fantastic insight into the character of these special sites. Here, Laura Rhys, Master Sommelier, offers her take on these remarkable wines.
Down Field is, at its heart, a sheltered hillock. Surrounded on all sides by hedges or woodland, the vineyards are protected by natural windbreaks. This is our lowest vineyard in Sussex and the closest to the coast. It has a mix of soils – clay and sandy loam, with greensand and flint too. All this combines to make Down Field one of the ripest of our Sussex sites. We see this in our base wines, which are characterised by powerful, defined styles of Pinot Meunier. These are generous and precise, with purity and elegance.
Tasting note In the glass, this is light straw in colour with a delicate mousse. On the nose, this has strawberry, peach, and peach melba notes. The flavour profile is filled with vibrant red fruit – notes of wild strawberry, cranberry, raspberry, with red apple and ripe peach. Bright, elegant acidity matches with the juicy fruit to create a delicious, vibrant wine, with floral hints of rose and some red cherry pie. There’s a touch of spice from the lees ageing. Delicate and elegant, with lovely weight and poise, this is a beautiful expression of Pinot Meunier. Laura Rhys, Master Sommelier
The first thing everyone wants to know about this vineyard is ‘why heartbreak’? Thankfully, there isn’t a doomed love story behind the site: instead, the name comes from the fact that it has incredibly long vine rows which are heart- (and back-) breaking to prune in mid-winter! The vines here run along gentle south-facing slopes, heading towards Romney Marsh. It’s one of our lowest vineyards – and also one of our ripest sites. Characteristically, we expect the wines here to show generosity of fruit, intensity, weight and a soft elegance.
Tasting note In the glass, this is pale straw colour, with a delicate mousse. The nose is of ripe orchard fruits and red berries, with hints of honeysuckle and nougat. On the palate, the wine shows red fruits, with cherries, wild strawberries and soft ripe raspberries, alongside darker notes of blueberry and plums. This opens up to reveal complex notes of sweet spice and toasted nuts. Generous and intense, this wine has a soft, ripe, rounded texture and a good length. Laura Rhys, Master Sommelier
About the vineyard If you’ve visited us in Kent, you’ll be familiar with Boot Hill – it’s the vineyard that stretches out in front of The Nest, our tasting room. It’s characterised by gentle slopes, rising to just over 40 metres above sea level. The soils here are rich clay and sandy loam. Its south-facing slopes, low elevation and rich clay soils, mean that the fruit here ripens beautifully. The Boot Hill base wines show a richness and weight that’s distinct to this site. There’s often a saline, mineral character too.
Tasting note On the nose, this has ripe citrus and stone fruit, with a rich biscuity note. On the palate, the wine is bright, vibrant and juicy, dominated by richer, ripe fruit, with yellow apple, white peach, citrus notes and honey. There are tropical notes too, with hints of pineapple and melon. The complexity builds, with flavours of croissant, patisserie and apple pie alongside saline and mineral notes. This has lovely length and round texture. Laura Rhys, Master Sommelier
About the vineyard Selhurst Park vineyard in Sussex is defined by its chalk and flint soils. At 100m above sea level, this is our highest vineyard. Its chalky, flinty soil and elevation mean that this tends to be one of the last vineyards we harvest. Selhurst Park’s fruit gives us wines which are characteristically bright and elegant, yet with power, structure and a truly crystalline quality.
Tasting note This is pale straw in colour with a delicate fizz. There’s bright citrus fruit on the nose with lemon, lime, green apple and pear. On the palate, there are flavours of citrus and orchard fruit, with melon and a chalky, mineral note too. You can taste biscuity, shortbread flavours from lees ageing, and a creamy texture. This is bright, focused and incredibly elegant with great length. Delicious. Laura Rhys, Master Sommelier