2011 Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs: Rated "outstanding" (96 pts) in Decanter MagazineWednesday, October 2
We have been following the rapid rise of English Sparkling wines and are convinced the time has come to take them seriously, as 'fine wines'. In a tasting of nearly 90 Blanc de Blancs from around the world (including 20 from Champagne) in last month's Decanter Magazine, Wiston Estate's 2011 came top. Rated 'Outstanding' and scoring 95-97 points, it surpassed wines from producers including Billecart-Salmon, Gusbourne and Hattingley.
We first encountered Wiston in December, at a tasting of 40 award winning English Sparkling wines held by the Institute of Masters of Wine. This tour de force of winemaking brilliance convinced us that English Sparkling Wine has the potential to be not just 'as good as' but 'better than' Champagne.
With the cooler growing season, the grape harvest in England is relatively late. Picking for the 2019 vintage in Champagne began in early September, but here in England this week dozens of estates are nervously watching the weather, just about to begin the harvest. The result is that the fruit has higher flavour ripeness, while retaining the all important high acidity. This is the key to understanding the unique style of fine English Sparkling Wine.
Potential is one thing, but it will take some time before the sheer expertise of the champagne growers and houses is replicated more widely here. For the time being, a few of the highest quality estates are making superlative wines.
Wiston Estate has been owned by the Goring family since the 16th century. Winemaker Dermot Sugrue gained experience at both l’Eglise-Clinet and Leoville-Barton as well as in Champagne. He worked as winemaker at Nyetimber before joining Wiston in 2006.
Described by Stephen Spurrier as 'England's best winemaker', Sugrue makes a range of sparkling wines from Wiston's 16 acres of vines on the pure chalk downlands which are similar in composition to the Côte des Blancs. The wines are pressed in a Coquard basket press (as traditionally used in Champagne) before part-fermentation in old barrels bought from Domaine Jacques Prieur in Puligny-Montrachet. The 2011 spent 6 years in bottle before disgorgement.
The fine wine world can be slow moving and it is very exciting to see a genuinely great new wine region emerging on our own doorstep. At under £30 per bottle in bond, Wiston's 2011 Blanc de Blancs is equal to many fine champagnes commanding double the price and we encourage you to try it.
Offered in bond and immediately available.
2011 Wiston Estate Blanc de Blancs Brut, South Downs, UK
Tremendously ripe fruit aromas are perfectly matched by deep, bready autolytic notes and floral elegance. Green apple on the palate with stone fruit and tangerine...the fruit character is so overt compared to a Champagne of the same quality level and yet the high acidity keeps the overall impression of freshness. No hint of this having had 6 years on the lees and 8 years since the harvest, it has a long life ahead of it. RKL
“Time spent on lees after secondary fermentation pays huge dividends for English sparkling wine, endowed as it always is with high natural levels of acidity. That's a lesson triumphantly proved by this 2011 Blanc de Blancs, with its soft mousse, lifted, almost floral aromas and deft weave of apple, tangerine and pear fruits rippled through with yeasty, bready richness. Its concentration, poise and length are impressive and position the wine well against the stiffest competition. It's vibrant and giving now, but will hold well if stored correctly and given still more time over the next decade. Drink 2019-2028. 98 points." Points Decanter World Wine Awards 2019
"Located on the South-facing chalk slopes of the South Downs, Wiston Estate has been owned and farmed by the Goring family since 1743. The estate's winemaking origins began in 2006, when Harry and Pip Goring planted 16 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier vines, before joining with acclaimed winemaker Dermot Sugrue. The grapes for the 2011 Blancs de Blancs are sourced from the steepest, chalkiest parts of the Wiston vineyards, on a soil reminiscent of Champagne's renowned Côte des Blancs. Drinking Window 2019 - 2022. 95-97 points." Susie Barrie MW, Simon Field MW, Andy Howard MW, Decanter Magazine September 2019.