The Nyetimber estate is located in the heart of West Sussex. It has a long history, with the earliest records stemming back to 1086, when it was known as 'Nitimbreha'. The first vines were planted on the site almost 900 years later in 1988. Sandy and Stewart Moss acquired what was then farmland and set out to transform it to a commercial vineyard. They selected the Champagne varieties as the soils matched and the climate was not far off! The unique location of the vineyards in the South Downs offers shelter from the coastal wind and selective planting on only south facing slopes means the grapes get sufficient sunlight to reach phenolic ripeness. 2001 saw Sandy & Stewart sell the vineyard to Andy Hill, an English songwriter and producer who most famously worked with Bucks Fizz (Coincidence?).
The estate was acquired by its current owner, Eric Heerema, in 2006. He expanded the estate to over 400 acres, making it the largest estate in the UK to make wine from entirely its own fruit. Winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, joined in 2007 with extensive knowledge and passion, having studied at the Wine Research Centre in Vancouver and at Adelaide University. Cherie was nominated for the 'Sparkling Winemaker of the Year' Award at the International Wine Challenge Awards 2016
The successes of Nyetimber and its path to world renowned status began when they gained recognition at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, for the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 1993. The Queen even chose to serve it for her 50th Wedding Anniversary. Over the next two decades they continued to gain momentum and arguably paved the way for the successes and popularity of English sparkling wine today. The 2015 CSWWC (Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships) marked a record 5th consecutive vintage to win an International Gold. This was the first time an English wine had achieved such a prestigious string of awards.
Our Nyetimber range consists of 5 wines, the Classic Cuvée being the flagship wine. Up until 2010 this was realised as a vintage, now it's a NV blend of various years. This is to maintain consistency year after year, thereby creating a "house style". It spends a minimum of 36 months on lees (secondary fermentation), which gives the wine great complexity and balance.
The Tillingdon Estate is a single vineyard. The grapes from this site are of superior quality, and used to make around 4000 bottles. Spending almost four years on lees, this wine is complex, elegant and fresh, taking English sparkling to a new level. The Sparkling Rosé is non-vintage, using Pinot Noir made from their own vines to get that vibrant pink colour. Undergoing rigorous tests to ensure its suitability for the blend. The winemaker must be able to smell the Pinot Noir while standing one metre away from the tasting glass.
The Blanc de Blancs is a cuvée made from only the best Chardonnay grapes from the best years. The first vintage produced was 1992. It is always a vintage wine, with a longer secondary fermentation to provide more complexity and body. The Blanc de Blancs have won a number of awards and are praised for their aging potential.
Nyetimber also produces a Demi-sec: this is a semi sweet wine with around 40g of residual sugar per litre. The sweetness is nicely balanced with the natural high acid of the cool climate wine. Notes of fresh elderflower, peaches and brioche lead to a luscious long finish. It is great served with puddings or even as an aperitif.
The Gusbourne Estate
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 Rosé is a classic example of a sparkling rosé. 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.
The first vines were planted at Cornwall's Camel Valley by ex-RAF Pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie almost thirty years ago. Having started their agricultural journey with a herd of cattle, the couple grew more and more convinced that the sunny slopes of the valley in which their farm was located would prove a good home for grapes. In 1989, then, Bob and Annie planted their first eight thousand vines.
The couple, largely self-taught, spent the first few years practically living in their vineyard. This was proved worthwhile, however, when their first wine won a medal in the English Wine Competition. Camel Valley can lay claim not only to a multitude of awards, but also to having created Cornwall's first traditional-method sparkling wine. And while Bob Lindo is no longer at the helm, the Estate remains family-run, with the next generation, Sam, now running the vineyard.
The Estate produce a range of still and sparkling wines, but featured on The Oxford Wine Company's list is the Pinot Noir Brut Rosé. The wine is now produced as a Non-Vintage, but like other English sparkling wines was initially produced as a Vintage wine. The reason for this is that it takes several years to build up sufficient quantities of the reserve wine required to blend a consistent Non-Vintage wine, which will demonstrate the same house style year in, year out.
The wine has a glittering history of awards, including being named the Sparkling Rosé World Champion (ahead of Champagne Bollinger) for its 2009 vintage, and winning the International Wine Challenge Trophy. It is a pale salmon colour with the finest of mousse, and has a wonderfully balanced and complex elegance to it. Flavours of summer berries combine with the classic brioche notes of a traditional method sparkler to create this delicious wine.
Chapel Down is located in Kent, and owns vineyards throughout the county. The Estate grows grapes on its own vineyards in Kent, and sources additional fruit from top-quality growers from a wider area, from Essex to Hampshire. This spreading of resources ensures that Chapel Down will be able to produce consistent quality in their range, whatever the English climate may throw at them from vintage to vintage. Long term relationships are nurtured with grape growers, and the list of suppliers is growing all the time to keep pace with increased demand for the Chapel Down wines.
The principal grape varieties used by the winery are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Bacchus. In addition to this, Chapel Down is experimenting with new varieties and techniques, and are looking to produce a late harvest wine, as well as England's first Albariño. Chapel Down has won a host of awards, including a Gold Award at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2016, a Gold Award in the International Wine Challenge 2016, and was shortlisted for 'English Wine Producer of the Year' at the International Wine and Spirit Competition, also in 2016.
On The Oxford Wine Company's list is the Chapel Down Three Graces 2011. It won a Silver Award in the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2017, and a Silver Medal in the International Wine and Spirits 2017. The 2011 vintage was characterised by lower yields but with good ripeness: two elements required for excellent quality wines. The Three Graces spends six months on its fine lees in the tank, and then a further three years in bottle before being disgorged prior to release. Notes of ripe red apple and strawberry combine with buttered brioche and toasted hazelnuts. The wine has delicacy, but also depth, and will be at its peak between 2017 and 2019.
Ambriel Estate is located on the South Downs, in West Sussex, the heartland of the English Sparkling Wine industry. The Estate was founded in 2006 by Charles and Wendy Outhwaite, an Investment Banker and QC respectively, who traded their careers in the city for a life of wine production. The first harvest was in 2010.
The first wine from the Estate was released in 2013 - the Ambriel Classic Cuvée. All grapes used to make Ambriel wine are grown on their own 7.5ha estate. The vineyards, located on sunny slopes, are planted with high quality Burgundian clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The sandy soils of the Estate help to store and reflect heat back on to the vines, helping the grapes to reach ripeness in the cool English climate. The grape varieties are fermented separately, in stainless steel tanks or aged Burgundian barrels. This variation allows for more options when it comes to the blending stage, which is always conducted blind, to ensure it is only the palate which informs the decision as to what composes the final wine.
Most vineyard work is carried out by hand, and are planted with wildflowers alongside the grapevines, which foster a beneficial insect population on the estate. Also living at Ambriel is a flock of oessants - the world's smallest breed of sheep - who graze the vineyard during the winter and act as official hedge trimmers to the property.
The Oxford Wine Company lists the Ambriel Classic Cuvée which has met with much acclaim, including a Silver Medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2016, as well as a Silver Award in the International Wine and Spirit Competition in 2016. The wine is comprised of 70% Chardonnay, 27% Pinot Noir and 3% Pinot Meunier. On the nose it has a rich toasty yeastiness, with ripe apples, citrus zing and fragrant florals on the palate. It is the perfect wine for an aperitif, or indeed for pairing with fish and chips.
Digby Fine English Wines
Founded by Trevor Clough and Jason Humphries, Digby Wine Estates produces sparkling wines only, focused on the traditional Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Grapes for the Digby range are sourced from the best vineyards in the Kent, Sussex and Hampshire area. Long-term relationships with growers are cultivated, which ensures a steady supply of high quality fruit. It is worth noting that this is how the majority of large Champagne houses conduct their businesses, buying and blending grapes from local vignerons.
All wines are produced using the traditional method, and the range comprises vintage white and rosé wines, as well as a Brut NV and the Digby Leander Pink, which is featured on The Oxford Wine Company's list.
The Leander Pink NV is the official sparkling wine of Henley's famous Leander rowing club, which has been established since the year 1818. For every bottle of this wine sold, a donation is made to the Leander Academy, helping to ensure its continuation for the rowers of the future. The wine has an elegant pink hue, and combines the vibrant pink of Pinot Noir with the richness of aged Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It makes the perfect wine to toast a Regatta weekend!
Bolney Estate started life as the vision of Janet and Rodney Pratt. They planted the first three acres of vines on what was then known as Bookers Vineyard in Sussex in 1972. Since those early days, the estate has grown to its current size of thirty nine acres and produces Red, White and Sparkling wines. Daughter,Samantha Linter took the helm in the 1990s, and added a state of the art winery to its premises.
The Estate is located on the South Downs, around fourteen miles from the coast. This location, combined with the low altitude and nearby forest helps to protect the vines from the prevailing breezes and helps to keep the mean temperature during the growing season between 12 and 15 celsius. Extensive canopy management is undertaken in the vineyard to ensure the grapes reach the optimum microclimate.
Bolney Estate are committed to a viticulture that is both sustainable and economically viable, and to this end are minimising the use of agrochemicals in the vineyard, through the use of growing techniques that promote healthy, pest-free vineyards, as well as ensuring soil health and fertility.
The Oxford Wine Company lists two of Bolney Estate's still white wines: The Bacchus and the Pinot Gris. The Pinot Gris was the winner of an International Wine Challenge trophy in 2012, and shows jasmine-scented fruit on the nose, with a slightly honeyed palate. The Bacchus is fragrant, with notes of elderflower and gooseberry - an English answer to Sauvignon Blanc.
Three Choirs Winery
Alan McKechnie, a Gloucestershire wine merchant and fruit farmer, started harvesting grapes in 1973, until Alan sold the farm in 1984. John Oldacre bought the vineyard and christened it Three Choirs, after the choral festival held between the three local Cathedral towns of Hereford, Worcester and Gloucester. He saw the potential of the site, nestled in the Forest of Dean, and invested heavily, adding a state of the art winery, as well as a visitor centre and restaurant.
The Three Choirs vineyards today span thirty hectares, and the Estate is one of the largest in England. A range of grape varieties are planted, combining traditional cool-climate grapes such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with modern crossings or hybrids, such as Bacchus, Regent and Rondo. These 'modern' varieties have been developed specifically for cool-climate terroir, and allow, amongst other things, the production of red wine in England. The Three Choirs Estate produces both still and sparkling wines.
Featured on The Oxford Wine Company list are two still wines from Three Choir and the Three Choirs Cellar Door Release Late Harvest. The Cellar Door range of wines represents the best that is produced from each vintage, and are made in very small quantities. The Late Harvest is a sweet wine, with notes of rich honey and a lovely fresh fruit character. Served chilled with dessert, this wine is an unusual treat!
The Coleridge Hill white is a blend of modern grape varieties: Phoenix, Madeline Angevine, Reichensteiner, Orion and Solaris. The wine is made in a crisp and refreshing style, with notes of apple, elderflower and freshly cut grass. The Raven's Hill red Raven's Hill red is, like its white counterpart, a blend of modern varieties: Regent, Rondo and Pinot Precose. It shows notes of blackberry and dark cherry, with touches of vanilla from time spent in American Oak barrels.
The Furleigh Estate is set in the stunning Dorset countryside, just five miles from the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Those dinosaurs who wandered this land millions of years ago have laid down their bones to make the perfect mineral-rich soil to grow world-class still and sparkling wines and this unique terroir is a major factor that contributes to the quality of their wines. The estate was established in 2005 when Ian and Rebecca Hansford purchased the farm and meticulously turned it into the world-class vineyard and winery it is today.
The Furleigh Estate consists of 80 acres of rolling fields, lakes and woods set in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The vineyard has 22,000 vines each tended individually by the Furleigh Estate team. Grape varieties are mostly the Champagne ones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but there are also some Bacchus and Rondo planted for the Furleigh still wines. The estate excels at sparkling wines made traditionally from Champagne grapes, all estate-grown. Its Classic Cuvée 2009 (their maiden vintage) won the International Wine Challenge English Trophy and Furleigh have won 10 medals at major London competitions. Also, their award winning sparkling Rosé 2010 was mistaken for Champagne by French judges in a blind tasting held in Paris!
Their range consists of 7 wines of which The Oxford Wine Company lists 6: Furleigh Estate Classic Sparkling, a traditional, bottle-fermented, quality sparkling wine is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. These classic French varieties give this wine a creamy mousse, a fruity and harmonious taste and good length focussed on freshness. Rich style with gently yeasty notes of biscuits and toast. The creamy palate has a soft mousse and is packed with citrus and orchard fruit flavours all finely balanced by a clean acidity.
The Furleigh Estate Rosé Sparkling is fermented at a cool temperature to retain the natural aromas. A tiny amount of Furleigh Estate's Tyrannosaurus Red is added to the expedition liqueur at tirage. This results in a delightful soft pink sparkling rosé wine. A dry, refined sparkling wine with subtle fruit flavours of red berries - strawberry, raspberry and cranberry.
Furleigh Estate Bacchus Dry is produced using Bacchus grapes which are hand-picked, crushed and macerated to enhance the extraction of varietal character. The temperature of the fermentation is kept cool to retain the juice's natural aromas. The wine, made from first run juice, is partially malolactic fermented and then matured for 6 months before bottling. Crisp, still white wine with aromas of elderflower, lychees and citrus fruits, a refreshing crisp palate and long lasting finish.
Furleigh Estate Bacchus Fumé is made in a similar way to Bacchus Dry, but using the pressed juice with the strongest varietal character. Following fermentation the wine was matured in American oak barriques for 7 months to provide richness and vanilla flavours. Fresh fruit flavours of citrus and greengage, underpinned by elderflower notes and the vanilla contributed by 7 months in American oak barrels.
The Furleigh Estate Sea Pink Rosé is fermented at cool temperatures to retain the natural aromas. Wonderfully fruit driven dry rosé with almost a sweet and sour feel about it and the most fruit we have ever tasted in an English rosé. Delicious - and very moreish!