Kent-based Hush Heath Estate are the latest winemakers to push the envelope with the launch of a range of premium English wines. The new Winemakers Collection is a trio of innovative and limited edition wines, created to explore the individual expressions of the vineyard's winemaking trio of Victoria Ash and father and son team Owen and Fergus Elias.
The range includes a first of its kind English red wine made from Pinot Meunier The Red Miller 2018 (£40), which was crafted by Owen. Another English wine first is Fergus' This Septered Isle 2018 (£40), which is a unique white blend made from all seven grapes that are permitted to be used in Champagne. Meanwhile, Victoria has also pushed the boundaries with her Blanc de Blancs (£80), which is one of the first zero dosage English sparkling wines to go to market. It's a blend of Chardonnay from the 2012 and 2013 vintages.
All three wines feature abstract art on their labels that was specially commissioned from well-known contemporary British artist Keith Coventry, which builds on Hush Heath Estate owners, the Balfour-Lynn family, love of the arts.
Head winemaker Victoria Ash’s Blanc de Blancs is a 100% Chardonnay from the 2012 and 2013 vintages, barrel fermented, and matured in French oak for twelve months. With zero dosage, it is believed to be the first of its kind in England. Victoria comments:
"For me it is the Chardonnay that really typifies the Hush Heath Estate, bringing forward herbaceous tones and powerful saline notes. These grapes come from specific blocks of very special vines. From my experiences in New Zealand, it was an exciting opportunity to put some of our best Chardonnay juice into old French Oak, and create a completely different style for the winery."
Assistant winemaker Fergus Elias went for something entirely different. This Septered Isle 2018 – a play on the French word for seven – is a still white made from the seven permitted grape varieties used in Champagne. Apart from the Pinot Gris, the other six are all grown at Hush Heath – Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Arbanne and Pinot Meunier. He says:
"I was inspired after tasting a sparkling base wine we made in 2014 with six of the champagne grape varieties from the estate. It had fantastic complexity, and real still wine potential. But it was not until the exceptional 2018 harvest, and the unearthing of a small local parcel of Pinot Gris, that This Septered Isle was born."
Meanwhile, Fergus’ father Owen, a consultant at Hush Heath, has skilfully created The Red Miller 2018, a still red from a single plot of exceptionally ripe Pinot Meunier – usually the ‘quiet partner’ in a classic sparkling blend. Harvested on 19th October last year, it was given 3 days fermentation on the skins, followed by a brief time in French and American oak, minimal filtration and no fining, Owen says;
"Pinot Meunier is rarely seen as a still red anywhere in the world. Here we have a delicate and aromatic wine which will be extremely interesting as it develops over the next two years."
Commenting on this exclusive collection, and the idea behind it, Hush Heath Estate owner Leslie Balfour-Lynn said:
“Art and wine have been closely connected throughout history and in our tasting room at Hush Heath Estate we have wonderful art and sculptures on display. It thus seemed appropriate to create labels designed by one of my favourite British artists, Keith Coventry to celebrate the unique nature of our three Winemaker’s wines."
Victoria Ash Blanc de Blancs rrp £80 (1,000 bottles); This Septered Isle rrp £40 (3,000 bottles) and The Red Miller rrp £40 (5,000 bottles) are available from UK distributor Liberty Wines (Leo Scott 0207 8190332) or direct from Hush Heath Estate (Sales Director Adam Williams – 07825 758833)