Surrey vineyards share their top drops and secret cellars for English Wine Week 2017

PUBLISHED: 17:20 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:20 25 September 2018

Surrey vineyards share their top drops and secret cellars

Surrey vineyards share their top drops and secret cellars

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To celebrate English Wine Week, from Saturday May 27 to Sunday June 4, Matthew Williams catches-up with three of Surrey’s award-winning vineyards

ALBURY VINEYARD

Shere Road, Albury, Surrey GU5 9BW. Web: alburyvineyard.com

Person interviewed: Lucy Letley, marketing

Tell us about your flagship wine…

Our Silent Pool Rosé is an elegantly pale Provence-style rosé made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. It’s dry but with plenty of summer fruit flavours. We sell it for £16.95 at the vineyard, although it sells out very quickly.

Does it have a tale to tell?

The first vintage was released in 2012 and served on the Royal Barge to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee! Since then it’s won several prestigious awards and features on the wine lists of some of the country’s best restaurants, including Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

Your future ‘top drop’?

Our original aim was to produce sparkling wine, although it takes a long time and we didn’t release our first until the end of 2015. Our Albury Estate Classic Cuvée is now giving our rosé a run for its money. It’s achieved success in several of the international wine competitions and is served in Michelin-starred restaurants, including Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, and the Black Swan near York.

What’s the oldest bottle of your wine that you know to still exist?

We are a relatively young vineyard, as we first planted in 2009, so the oldest bottle we have is our 2011 Silent Pool Rosé - a souvenir from the Royal Barge! Being a rosé, it probably won’t keep well for long but we will keep it forever as memory of our first ever harvest.

Secret cellar: We have a couple of special releases in the pipeline, including a biodynamic sparkling that’s fermented using only wild yeasts found naturally in the vineyard. We are one of only a handful of biodynamic vineyards in the UK, so a quality natural wine is hard to find. We also have a small amount of a ‘prestige cru’ sparkling that we’ve been keeping for a little while now. It will probably only be available to Albury Wine Club members.

 

DENBIES WINE ESTATE

London Road, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6AA. Web: denbies.co.uk

Person interviewed: Jeannette Simpson, chief operating officer

Tell us about your flagship wine…

Greenfields 2011 is the current vintage of Denbies’ original traditional method sparkling wine and was awarded a gold in the International Wine Challenge. It is made from the classic ‘Champagne’ trio of grapes.

Does it have a tale to tell?

Greenfields is one of the first English sparkling wines, with production starting approximately 20 years ago. When Denbies first planted these grape varietals, in 1986, it was questioned whether Pinot Noir could be successfully grown in the UK’s cool climate. Pinot Noir has also become very successful in production of Denbies’ rosé, red and premium cuvee, Cubitt Blanc de Noir.

Your future ‘top drop’?

When a particular parcel of one of our varietals is of exceptional quality, the winemaker will take the opportunity to release a limited release vintage. In 2013, the winemaker made a Cubitt Blanc de Blanc, 100% Chardonnnay. This wine is due for release at the end of 2017 and is limited to 3,500 only.

What’s the oldest bottle of your wine that you know to still exist?

English still wine is intended to be consumed young, to retain the aromatic fresh flavours (approximately three to four years). However, a customer called to inform us that he had enjoyed an excellent bottle of Juniper Hill – vintage 2002. English sparkling will mature in the same way as all traditional method bottled fermented wine with an expected age of four to 15 years, plus.

Secret cellar: In 2014, a peculiar phenomenon occurred and four tons of Ortega was selectively picked during optimum conditions for ‘noble rot’. Until that time, Denbies had only produced three vintages of noble harvest in its 28 year history. Since then, our Noble Harvest has become a multiple internationally award-winning dessert wine annually. A premium Noble Rot from the first picking of 2016 will be released soon and limited to 500 bottles.

 

GREYFRIARS

The Hog’s Back, Puttenham, Surrey GU3 1AG. Web: greyfriarsvineyard.co.uk

Person interviewed: Mike Wagstaff, owner

Tell us about your flagship wine…

Our vintage Sparkling Rosé Reserve (currently 2013) is made from predominantly Pinot Noir grapes, which are crushed, and soaked on their skins to extract the delicate pale pink colour and the wonderful aromas of summer berries. One third of the base wine is fermented in old oak barrels, which gives the wine a delicious roundness and hint of vanilla. This was the first wine we released after taking over Greyfriars in 2010. Our first vintage was only 450 bottles! It has got better and better each year and sells for £24-£26 in retail stockists in the area – and a bit less if you come directly to us.

Does it have a tale to tell?

The exact blend has changed over the six vintages but it is always made from our very best red grapes. For the last four years, the grapes for this wine have been picked by our friends and family, on the first day of harvest.

Your future ‘top drop’?

All of them! Seriously, it’s like asking who your favourite child is!

What’s the oldest bottle of your wine that you know to still exist?

As we only took over the vineyard in 2010, it’s our current 2013 vintage Sparkling Rosé Reserve. Now we have our own 400,000-bottle capacity chalk cave, we look forward to expanding on that story in the future.

Secret cellar: We’re producing limited editions of special blends but they won’t be ready for another year or two. However, we always have one or two wines, which are only available at the vineyard.

 

English Wine Week takes place from Saturday May 27 to Sunday June 4 2017

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