Seven to eight years minimum, in fact, from planting a vine to opening a bottle made from it. As Gusbourne's Head Winemaker Charlie Holland says, "Making sparkling wine is a long-term labour of love, with lots of tiny decisions combining into a fantastic end product. It takes four years from first planting to having grapes ready to make into wine. Then six months of production followed by a minimum of three years ageing. In fact, our Blanc de Blancs takes longer, spending at least 42 months maturing on the lees."
Nature's slow rhythms are our winemaker's master. Charlie oversees a multiplicity of separate steps within the traditional stages of sparkling winemaking, from planting through vinification to careful blending. And because Gusbourne produces exclusively vintage wines – with our three grape varieties prone to six months of unpredictable weather in their different planted parcels – the processes required of our vineyard and winemaking teams, to attain the same exacting quality for each release involve commensurate complexity.
Of all tasks unique to sparkling wine, perhaps the most iconic remains the riddling: every bottle, stacked and angled in special racks, is slowly turned every day to settle the in-bottle fermentation sediment into the neck before disgorgement. In past centuries this would be manually done. Today, gyropalettes still take 115 hours to complete the task, turning each bottle 49 times.
A final cellar-room flourish at Gusbourne that also takes time is how we hand-inspect and hand-polish every single bottle before it's packed. Gift-boxed or case-loaded, nothing leaves Gusbourne without slow, respectful attention to detail. We think this tells a story of its own.
Time well spent? Always.
Find out more about the production of our sparkling wines by booking a tour of Gusbourne when we can welcome you again in person.
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New Release: Blanc de Blancs 2016
Quietly acknowledged as a strong vintage year for English Sparkling Wine, 2016 will be remembered for its warm, sun-filled summer and autumn days. Ideal conditions for producing fruit of outstanding quality at Gusbourne’s vineyards in Kent and West Sussex.
Why We Blind Taste Our Base Wines
A lot happens to a Gusbourne wine in its journey from harvest to bottle. One important stage is putting our base wines to the test. Each year our winemaking team blind tastes and meticulously analyses every wine before deciding the carefully crafted blends that each of our labels will carry. It’s a fascinating process that takes skill, experience and the ability to imagine a wine’s potential in every vintage year.
Bottling the Bubbles
Some elements of winemaking are widely recognisable. Everyone knows what pruning and harvest look like, photos abound. But once the grapes have been pressed in the winery and the young wine stored to mature, what happens next? When is it transferred to bottle? How do we know the optimum moment for release? Here we reveal the less public part of the winemaker's art.