English Wine Week: Three Blanc de Noirs English Sparklers
Vineyard in the English Countryside
Blanc de Noirs, white sparkling wines made from red grapes, are a discipline in which England begins to excel. Here are three elegant and full-flavoured wines from three different counties.
The youngest wine is from Kent, made by father and son team Owen and Fergus Elias in Kent at the Balfour Winery. Due to its warm and long summer, the 2018 vintage was outstanding in England, and the Eliases chiefly used the fruit from their highest vineyard, Foxridge, to make this wine. Grown on local ragstone soil, a Cretaceous limestone particular to Kent, the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes were made into a lovely, fruit-driven wine that unites English briskness with 2018 ripeness. It fully expresses the winemakers’ motto: “crush grapes, not dreams.”
The next wine is from the Rathfinny Estate in Kent, known for its low dosage styles. Mark Driver, owner of Rathfinny, says that Rathfinny’s Blanc de Noirs stand out due to grape skin ripeness: “We are generally holding fruit on the vine for over 100 days post flowering, which I believe produces a phenolic ripeness in the grape, this gives a wine the lovely fruit quality.” The fruit is indeed evident in this rather elegant wine from the 2016 vintage.
The third wine is made by Corinne Seely at Exton Park in Hampshire. She has made it her mission to craft complex non-vintage wines and this Blanc de Noirs is a blend of 28 reserve wines from various vintages. It is a hallmark of Exton Park wines that you can always smell the sea, in fact, you can see and smell it from the vineyard, too. You can also read our Dry Extract interview with Corinne Seely here.
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