Decanter Silver Medal 2018; IWC Silver Medal 2018
Albourne Estate Blanc de Blancs was Alison Nightingale’s first Sparkling wine (2013 vintage) produced from her 30 acre vineyard and winery in West Sussex. This stunning “white of whites” is made from selected, hand-picked Chardonnay grapes using the highest quality cuveé to create a sparkling wine which is all about elegance, finesse and subtle complexity.
Delicious patisserie-like aromas of brioche, baked apple and almond complement the fresh fruit crispness of the Chardonnay grapes; the flavours are complex and layered with apple, apricot and biscuity notes. There is a lovely texture and delicate fine bubbles in this Sparkling wine, which is the equal of superior Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
Alison’s back labels have a surprising amount of detail. The full history of the wine is there – from the picking dates, bottling date, disgorgement date and the number of bottles produced – enabling everyone to learn, enjoy and understand more about the complex and fascinating process of producing top quality, bottle fermented Sparkling Wines. For this vintage, the grapes were picked on 12 and 13 October and fermented into still wine, bottled on 7 May 2015 to undergo a secondary fermentation in the bottle and finally disgorged in November 2018.
With several years of bottle age, Albourne Estate Blanc de Blancs 2014 shows how English Sparkling Wines improve with age and are deliciously complex.
We should not be surprised that English Sparkling Wines are – as good as, and – similarly priced to good, vintage Champagnes, as they are produced using the same traditional method of bottle fermentation. They have an extended period of ‘on-lees’ ageing; in this case 42 months. A significant amount of work goes into the production of ‘method champenoise” wines, and you can tell the difference!!
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. The vineyards were planted in 2010 when Alison Nightingale (co-owner) 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. Alison’s decision in the early 2000s to leave her high-flying corporate role to spend more time with her young family, was a wise decision and despite all the challenges of growing vines in our marginal climate, her decision has been vindicated in the production of great quality wines.
“…Dry, fine, pure. Lovely perfumed Chardonnay aromas with a chalky hint. Huge potential. Very elegant” International Wine Competition (IWC) panel: 90 Points: Silver Medal 2018
“Pretty nose with apricot, citrus and delicate autolysis. The palate is soft with a fine mousse, fresh acidity and green apple flavours. A nice, delicate style.” Decanter World Wine Awards 2018 panel: 90 Points: Silver Medal 2018
“The nose is warm and embracing; apple tart, sweet brioche and ripe stone fruit aromas – so hugely inviting. To taste, this is classic Blanc de Blancs through and through. Exceptional textures and crispness intertwined with delicious flavours of baked apple and brioche.”
“The mousse is soft but persistent, enveloping the wine’s gorgeous ripe fruit character. The end result is a superbly expressive sparkling wine.”
“Happy to say that this Blanc de Blancs is every bit as delicious as the Albourne Estate still wines.” John Mobbs; GreatBritishWine.com
“There’s an unusual pureness about it, with perfumed chardonnay aromas and hints of chalk and citrus, with baked apple, almond and patisserie on the tongue. A stunner on its own, it also complements a long list of foods, including crab, prawns and mussels, along with roast chicken or pork casserole – or, for the vegetarians, mushroom and truffle risotto.
Up there with the best of English wines, we’re not surprised it scooped a silver at this year’s International Wine Challenge.” Kate Hilpern, The Independent 22 May 2018
Food Match suggestions: A terrific aperitif but will also partner many and varied dishes – Crab Salad, Prawns with butter or garlic, Normandy Pork Casserole, Mussels with tomato, parsley and garlic sauce, Roasted chicken breast with herbs (sage, thyme, oregano), Mushroom & Truffle Risotto
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