Albourne Estate Bacchus 2014 from Sussex has won UK Wine of the Year Trophy 2015. This wine had already won two other Trophies and a Gold Medal in the UK Vineyards Association 2015 competition plus a Silver Medal at the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC). In both competitions the wines are blind-tasted by panels of experts, many of whom are Masters of Wine (MW). Winning the UK Wine of the Year Trophy is a fantastic achievement as there were over 320 English sparkling and still wines in this competition. and for this particular award the panel consisted of no less that 7 Masters of Wine!

Albourne Estate has just under 11 hectares (30 acres) in gently rolling hills, near Hassocks in West Sussex, with stunning views to the Devils Dyke. Alison Nightingale (co-owner) studied a Viticulture & Oenology degree at Plumpton College from 2004 to 2007 and started looking for a potential vineyard site in 2008/9. The vineyards were planted in 2010 when Alison finally found the site she had been looking for which ticked all the boxes to provide excellent drainage, low frost risk and maximum sun exposure, critical factors in achieving successful vine growth and grape ripeness at this northerly latitude. 2013 was their first vintage; this has been followed by the warmer and excellent 2014 vintage.

England is one of the coolest of “cool climate viticultural regions” and one of the wettest; we have unpredictable and unreliable summers. This presents many challenges to growing quality grapes, some years production is very low (2012) but when conditions at the varying stages of the year (no late frosts, reasonable weather around flowering time, reasonable sunshine hours and a warm, dry autumn) together with the right sort of soil, England can produce some stunning wines, particularly white and Sparkling. At Albourne Estate, Alison has planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (the classic Champagne grapes) for Sparkling wines, and Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Bacchus for still wines. When the Sparkling wine is available it will form around 60% of the grapes grown with 40% going into still wines. All the grapes are hand-picked and taken to the on site wine-making facilities where the grapes are whole-bunch pressed.

The striking labels feature wildlife that are regularly seen in the Albourne Estate and are painted by a local artist. The Bacchus label features a Buzzard. We also stock Albourne Estate Selection 2014 which features a stunning Green Woodpecker on its label.

We were struck by the terrific quality of these wines when tasting a wide range of English wines this Spring – and they are from Sussex! Follow the links to the Wine Shop for descriptions for both these stunning wines, that are definitely in the top NZ Sauvignon/Sancerre character together with our competitive prices.

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