England may gradually be getting warmer, but winemaking here historically has always been suited to grapes that thrive in cooler climes. Hence the predominance of sparkling wine. When Gusbourne’s first vines were established in 2004, the vision was to make the best sparkling wine in England and to challenge the rest of the world. We’re honoured that our efforts have received multi-award-winning recognition.
One challenge now for Chief Winemaker Charlie Holland and his team lies in creating still wines of the same highest quality, made with the same homegrown grapes and the same dedicated care.
Weather is our master
As always, weather is our master. Each wine we make at Gusbourne is the unique product of a single vintage, so not every year lends itself to a still wine expression. This only adds to the tantalising proposition when the weather works in the right direction.
From January to March, alongside Master Sommelier and Global Brand Ambassador Laura Rhys, the team blind-taste up to 300 samples of the harvest’s base wines. They articulate the flavour profiles, structure and style of the base wines, each of different grapes from vineyard parcels in each of our different vineyards. Only when samples are judged ideal for still wine production do we go ahead with producing still wines from that vintage.
What to enjoy
Still wines account for a small percentage of our total production, emphasising the criticality of responding to different annual conditions, but they encompass the full Gusbourne portfolio of grape varieties, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
We choose our vineyard sites for the still wines based on ripeness capability. Boot Hill has wonderful sun exposure with its south and south-easterly aspects, gentle slopes and a breeze coming from the coast. It’s also sheltered from the gustier winds further down on the estate. The clay soils here are heat retentive, so regularly produce fruit with exceptional ripeness, especially in the blocks planted with Burgundy-clone Pinot Noir. Strict yield management gives us fruit with ripeness levels perfect for still wines.
The wonderfully warm year of 2020 has given us a delicate, pale ruby Pinot Noir with aromas of morello cherry, wild strawberry and red floral notes. Elegant and bright on the palate, with plump red fruits, dark plum and black cherry alongside black pepper spice, smoky notes and an earthy minerality to give a wine with complexity, finesse, and a persistent finish. A beautiful match with a variety of dishes from roasted root vegetables to richer meat dishes. Try a smoked duck salad, roasted beetroot salad or rack of Romney Marsh lamb.
Like Boot Hill, our Cherry Garden vineyard produces fruit that’s ideal for rosé, thanks to its natural undulations, southerly aspect and heat retentive clay soil, making it ideal for achieving the right ripeness levels.
We’ve used Pinot Noir from Cherry Garden for many years for this style of wine, but last year we were delighted to see equal levels of ripeness and quality in our Pinot Meunier that made this variety ideal to incorporate into this year’s vintage. Having made a successful standalone still red Pinot Meunier in 2020 gave us further confidence to use it in the 2021 Rosé as well. The resulting addition of 35% Pinot Meunier brings something different and unique to the blend with soft fruits and a subtle earthy complexity in this still Rosé 2021.
This is a beautiful pale and delicate rosé with raspberry, cherry and strawberry notes prominent on the nose. This single vineyard wine is elegant and dry, full of vibrant fruit character with summer berries, orange peel and nectarine notes, as well as hints of wildflowers and a ripe citrus-led freshness on the finish. Perfect as an aperitif style wine or enjoyed with food from barbecued fish, chicken or sunny Mediterranean vegetable skewers.
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