English wine making is on the up. The changing climate favours grape growing. But our wine makers are also becoming more professional.
We visited the Gusbourne estate in Appledore, Kent.
Just an hour away from London on the train, this picturesque village in the heart of “England's wine garden” seems like it is actually a world away.
Here the wine growers are confident that their wine is on the way to becoming globally recognised.
They are the producers of the wine served at the 2012 London Olympic Games opening party and at Buckingham Palace for visiting heads of state.
But they believe the entire industry is much more professional than it was 30 years ago. More money is being pumped in and with that comes experience and expertise.
“We're also better at growing grapes and making wine than ever before,” says winemaker Charlie Holland.
“I believe we're at the bottom of a curve. In 20 years' time the quality will be sensational.”
Gusbourne has been working hard to help build England's reputation as a legitimate winemaking region.
They are confident their latest release – the Blanc de Blancs 2014, £59 – will be a hit.
“It's from a 2014 vintage, which was an exceptional year for us,” says Holland.
“It was a landmark year. It was one of the first years where we really achieved a level of ripeness we hadn't really seen in our wines – or in England – before.”
He attributes this to the vineyards getting older and also to his own experience growing.
“For the Blanc de Blancs 2014, we look for the wines that seem to demonstrate a mineral character alongside the fruit.
“It's almost a saline, salty character, which gives it a lovely complexity,” he says.
The last all-important ingredient is time
The wine has spent four years in the cellar. After the second fermentation, it sits in contact with the lees, the sediment on the bottom. This gives it “lovely toasty, biscuit characters”.
“The longer it spends with them, the more it develops this character.”
Visitors to the 14 vineyards, can drop into the tasting room – The Nest – without a reservation.
For more about Gusbourne read here.
To read the full review in the Mayfair Times read here.