…sounds like the beginning of a corny joke, but I recently tasted a producer’s wines for the first time that marry England, Ireland and France. “How did that happen?” you may ask.
Wiston Estate in West Sussex, southern England is a relative newcomer to the nascent English wine scene, and like the majority of the quality wines made there it owes its choice of grapes and production techniques to Champagne. The Irish connection is the winemaker Dermot Sugrue, formerly of Nyetimber and with experience of vintages in Bordeaux and Champagne.
Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Camel Valley and now Hattingley Valley are among the top producers of English Sparkling, and as Le Caveau recently added Wiston Estate to their portfolio I jumped at the chance to see how it measured up.
Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs NV
Very fresh, like lemon sherbet, with tropical fruit notes and creamy bubbles – enough autolysis character to keep it from being lean in any way. This is top drawer fizz; it would be great served as an aperitif or with seafood, but it’s actually very enjoyable just on it’s own. Do I sound like a dipso when I say I could happily polish off a bottle by myself?
Wiston Estate Rosé Vintage 2011
Much rounder in the mouth as you’d expect from a majority of Pinot Noir. Fresh but seductive, strawberry is to the fore with citrus from the Chardonnay in a supporting role. The mousse is terrifically persistent – it just goes on for ages. This is a fantastic effort and another nail in the coffin for those who don’t like sparkling rosé. It won a Gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards, if you’re interested in such things, but if it’s available where you live then you owe it to yourself to try it.