The Gusbourne Estate is in Appledore, Kent. The very first mention of the estate dates all the way back to 1410 when it was left in John de Gusbourne's will. Andrew Weeber took over the property in May 2003, planting the first vines in May 2004. Andrew is from South Africa and studied at the Stellenbosch University where he developed a love for wine. He moved to the UK in 1992. The Gusbourne Estate is a fairly young winery, having produced its first vintage in 2006. In only 11 years the estate has received many accolades and produced some of the finest English sparking (and still) wines.
The Farm itself is around 500 acres and to begin with 51 acres of vines were planted. This has since increased to 150 acres divided over two locations in Kent and West Sussex. The Gusbourne Estate only uses fruit from its own vineyards to create its range of wines. Unlike most English vineyards, Gusbourne has a large proportion of clay as part of the topsoil. Clay is difficult to grow on in cooler wetter climates, as it absorbs moisture making it harder for draining and general vine management. However, it's believed that the clay soil provides the wine with a richer complexity. To add further intensity to the wines around two thirds of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir planted are Bourgogne clones. This lowers the yield of fruit but greatly improves the quality.
The grapes are all picked by hand. A small army of local people help each year in the harvest. Only the best grapes are selected to make the wine. The majority of grapes are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and a small amount in barrel. This variation gives the wine maker flexibility when it comes to blending.
The Gusbourne range consists of 5 wines. The first vintage was released in 2010 from the 2006 harvest and received very high praise among critics. Gusbourne have won "English wine producer of the year" In both 2013 and 2015 at the International Wine and Spirits Competition.
Gusbourne Brut Reserve is the most popular, made with the Champagne verities using mainly Chardonnay. This wine is aged on its lees for a minimum of 28 months, and then left a further three months before its release. It has a very clean fresh aroma with pear and citrus on the nose and a rich palate with hints of toasted brioche. Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs is made from select parcels of vines, and only from the finest Burgundian clones of Chardonnay. The wine spends a minimum of 36 months on lees then a further 3 in bottle. It is a terroir driven wine with a freshness and complexity leading to a natural mineral palate with the roundness and finesse evident of a longer time spent aging. Gusbourne Brut RosÃ© is a classic example of a sparkling rosÃ©. 30 months on lees with a very small amount of barrel aged Pinot Noir added to create the pale pink colour. It shows vibrant strawberries and violets on the nose with some almond. The palate is delicate with cherry and cranberry. Gusbourne Gunievere Chardonnay is a still wine made from hand selected grapes from the Boot Hill vineyards. This wine is fermented in barrel and aged for 9 months in oak casks. It resembles a Burgundian style with pear and citrus on the nose and a slight hint of butter and is one of the finest examples of single varietal English Chardonnay Gusbourne Pinot Noir is a classic cool climate Pinot Noir with ripe cherry and vanilla on the nose. A small amount of oak gives the wine a round and balanced palate. It has wonderful hints of spice and a subtle earthiness on the finish.