The Real Review Top Wineries of Australia 2021 events in Melbourne and Sydney during November were a lot of fun and a great success from all viewpoints.
Davenport Vineyards: Best known for organic sparkling and still wine production in Kent and Sussex since 1991 thanks to Roseworthy graduate Will Davenport’s conversion of the vineyards, 10 hectares over five parcels of land, to organic production in 2000. Exton Park Vineyard: Best known for a unique style brought to this estate on the chalky slopes of the South Downs, owned by the packaged fresh salads and watercress magnate, Malcolm Isaac, who took on French winemaker Corinne Seely after she visited to buy the grapes for nearby Coates and Seely. Henners Vineyard: Best known for, while it has three hectares of vineyards of its own less than five miles from the south coast, Henners doesn’t rely on a single site, soil or terroir, but works with growers to create something greater than the sum of the individual parts. Rathfinny Wine Estate: Best known for being a large single vineyard site on a south-facing, chalky slope in the South Downs. Established in 2010 by Mark and Sarah Driver, believers in a Sussex PDO, with a first harvest in 2014, the inaugural wines were released to substantial acclaim in 2018.
Wiston Estate: Best known for The Goring family, who have been successfully farming their nearly 2,500 hectares of farmland since the 18th century and only decided to plant vines after Pip, who married Harry Goring in 1972, wanted to have a vineyard to remind her of her Cape Winelands home. They won Winery of the Year at the WineGB Awards 2018. Coates & Seely: Best known for high-quality English sparkling wines stemming from the cool climate and chalk and flint downlands of Hampshire and, thanks to co-founder Christian Seely’s French connection, for coining the term Méthode Britannique to describe English fizz. Raimes English Sparkling: Best known for like many forward-thinking English farmers looking at diversifying their crop, fifth-generation farmers Augusta and Robert Raimes grasped the nettle of growing grapes for fizz by planting the champagne varieties in the rolling hills of the South Downs in 2011. Digby Fine English: Best known for American-born Trevor Clough and his British husband, Jason Humphries conceived the idea of making world-class English sparkling wine after blind tastings in which English fizz beat big-name Champagne brands most of the time. Their wines are based on grower sources and in 2017, Digby became the fastest-selling English fizz in the US.
Oxney Organic Estate: Best known for in line with their vision of sustainable modern farming, Kristin Syltevik and Paul Dobson have made Oxney the UK’s largest single estate organic vineyard with a planted area of 13.65 ha from a total of 320 hectares, certified by the Soil Association. Ridgeview England: Best known for being one of the early pioneers, along with Nyetimber, of English sparkling wine thanks to the vision of the late Mike Roberts and his wife Christine. Starting out to make 20,000 bottles a year, under Mike’s children, Ridgeview now produces 400,000 bottles. The Grange: Best known for being a family enterprise created in 2011 by four siblings, Zam, Rose, Lucy and Mark and father, John Ashburton, The Grange is one of the newest and most promising projects to make waves on the English sparkling wine scene. Hattingley Valley: Best known for being one of the big beasts of the English sparkling wine scene, run by Emma Rice, a Plumpton College graduate, who makes a broad range of sparklings, including Louis Pommery England for Champagne Vranken-Pommery.
Chapel Down: Best known for going through more life cycles than the phylloxera aphid and coming out the other side thanks to a policy of gradually changing its source of supply from outside growers to its own vineyards, with high-quality chardonnay in particular grown on Kent’s south-facing, chalky North Downs. Hambledon Vineyard: Best know for firstly, the village of Hambledon as the cradle of English cricket and secondly the vineyard itself is historic because Major General Sir Guy Salisbury Jones established England’s oldest commercial vineyard on chalky slopes here in 1952. Gusbourne: Best known for being one of England’s biggest but also best estate wineries after extending its original Kent plantings to Sussex in order to give itself greater blending options for its substantial range of sparklings. Fox & Fox: Best known for an emerging reputation as a producer of moreishly drinkable fizz in a range of wines produced by Jonica Fox, who graduated from Plumpton College after she and her husband Gerard decided to put a south-facing field on their East Sussex property to good use as a vineyard.
Nyetimber: Best known for pioneering the champagne varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier back in 1988 and building on their first 16 hectares planted in the South Downs. Langham Wine Estate: Best known for creating superlative sparkling wines from a 10-hectare plot of vines grown close to the south coast in the Kimmeridgian soils of Dorset outside England’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of Sussex, Kent and Hampshire. Breaky Bottom: Best known for being one of the early pioneers of English wine with Peter Hall using seyval blanc and müller-thurgau for still wines and then converting his entire production to sparkling wine based on seyval blanc, chardonnay and pinot noir. Harrow & Hope: Best known for being another top-flight English sparkling wine producer outside England’s ‘Golden Triangle’ of Sussex, Kent and Hampshire thanks to the efforts (Harrow) and vision (Hope) of Henry Laithwaite, chip off the block of his father, the Laithwaite’s entrepreneur, Tony Laithwaite and mother Barbara, whose Wyfold fizz he also makes.
Few would argue that Nyetimber is not primus inter pares, first among equals, in English sparkling wine.
In June this year, The Real Review invited England’s wineries to submit their wines for blind tasting for a chance to be one of the Top Wineries of Great Britain 2021.
Kusuda Wines: best known for pinot noir, syrah, riesling and, when conditions allow, a luscious dessert wine. Felton Road Wines: best known for five elegant, examples of Bannockburn pinot noir that seem to get better and better with every new vintage. Craggy Range: best known for a supremely elegant syrah with a proven cellaring record. Destiny Bay: best known for cabernet-dominant blended red wines based on the Bordeaux varieties.
Neudorf: best known for elegant, powerful chardonnay at several price points that peak at Moutere, a very special wine. Framingham: best known for riesling, which comes in all shapes and sizes but is universally delicious. Dry River Wines: best known for small volumes of intense and mostly age-worthy wines all of which deserve iconic status. Clearview Estate Winery: best known for chardonnay from the Te Awanga coastal region.