English Sparkling Wine has been making some waves of late. The idea that England could produce good quality sparkling wines may have seemed unlikely to many people at first but thankfully estates such as Nyetimber have paved the way and demonstrated that not only can they make sparkling wine, they can make seriously good sparkling wine.
Gusbourne came to our attention at an awards dinner at the end of last year when they picked up the IWSC trophy for English Wine Producer of the Year. That of course prompted a conversation, which lead to a tasting, which lead to a lot of smiling faces, which lead to a new range of sparkling wines landing on our shelves.
Gusbourne is a family owned estate in Kent, the garden of England. They are absolutely committed to quality production which is evident in their beautifully tended vines, and top notch winemaking. The wines are made from the same grapes that are used in Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and the wines are made by the same process that the Champagne houses use.
This traditional method involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle which creates the bubbles and Gusbourne keep the wine on the lees for 36 months (9 months is standard in many parts of the world) which imparts more autolytic flavours from the decaying yeasts (sounds grim but is actually lovely) and gives the wine more complexity and depth. Clearly the climate in England can be cooler than we would often like but it’s great for sparkling wine production. It helps to retain high acidity in the grapes and doesn’t allow the fruit to accumulate too much flavour. Overly fruity grapes give an overwhelming flavour in a sparkling wine which feels unbalanced. Delicacy is the aim of the game when it comes to fine fizz.
Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2009
A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with aromas of lemon, white stone fruit and freshly baked bread and apple pie. On the palate it is zesty and fresh with good citrus structure fleshed out with baked apples, pears, nuts and oatmeal.
Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2009
100% Chardonnay creating a delicate, green apple and citrus flavour profile with notes of toast, hazelnuts and baked apple. The star of the line up as far as the JN taste team were concerned.
Gusbourne Sparkling Rosé 2010
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Delicate and fine with strawberry and cranberry notes. Dry and elegant – summer in a glass!
Gusbourne Pinot Noir 2011
A still red made from their estate grown grapes and possibly the best English red wine that Jancis Robinson has ever tasted!