Continuing our focus on the diversity of English wine producers, yesterday I headed to Off The Line Vineyard in Sussex for a bank holiday launch of a trio of still vintage 2018 English rosé wines. Off The Line Vineyard was founded in 2014 by Kristina Studzinski and Ann-Marie Tynan, with a red-only planting of Pinot Noir, Regent, Dornfelder and Rondo. The ‘Off the Line’ name references the Old Cuckoo Line, a railway line that once ran between Polegate and Edridge and sits next to the vineyard. With the red-grape focus, rather distinctively Kristina and Ann-Marie have focussed solely on still English rosé wines.
Sustainability is significant on the agenda here, and Kristina explains that they do follow Organic practices wherever possible. So pesticides and intervention are kept to a minimum, and the management of energy and wastewater treatment is also important.
The vineyard’s first two vintages; 2016 and 2017, were produced by Litmus Wines in Surrey. However, last year saw the completion of the construction of their winery. The arrival of the 2018 vintage wines marks not only the launch of fantastic vintage but also the launch of the first wines that were produced on-site at the winery in Sussex. It was great to have the chance to sample all three of the new wines side by side, as there were interesting contrasting textures and flavours, yet still a consistent purity and crisp fruit expression. With production ramping up and an eventual capacity of 20,000 bottles, I asked Kristina for her thoughts on her latest vintage.
"2018 was a truly amazing vintage that delivered straight to our new winery stunningly ripe and balanced grapes perfect for pressing into still rosé. From the 2018 harvest we’ve produced our three styles of rosé, Hip rosé, Dog rosé and Dancing Dog rosé each expressing the individuality of the varieties we grow.
What makes our wines so special is our wonderful south facing site which gives us an edge when it comes to ripening red varieties in our marginal English climate. Our micro climate combined with the exceptional year that was 2018 has enabled us to produce wines of outstanding balance with naturally good levels of acidity and alcohol. We are super proud of all our 2018 rosé wines made by us on site for the first time."
Kristina Studzinski, Co-owner and wine maker
Dog Rosé 2018
GRAPES: Regent, Rondo & Dornfelder
The first rosé I sampled was a blend of 56 % Regent, 29 % Rondo and 15% Dornfelder, which Off The Line describe as their easy-drinking rosé.
Fresh aromas of raspberry, cherry with zesty grapefruit notes.
This wine began with a lively burst of grapefruit and lemon freshness. It’s full of energy with crisp, tangy redcurrant. Served nicely chilled, it was a very refreshing drop of English rosé.
- Buy from Off The Line £14.95
Dancing Dog Rosé 2018
GRAPES: Regent, Pinot Noir & Rondo
The darkest of the three rosés, but lighter than the previous 2017 vintage, Dancing Dog 2018 is a blend of 56% Regent, 34% Pinot Noir and 10% Rondo.
On the nose, the red fruit felt more pronounced and intense on this wine, with aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry and cherry.
To taste, this was also slightly fuller, aided by a slightly higher residual sugar (3g/l) to complement the ripe strawberry and cherry flavours. Again, excellent acidity and citrus notes keeping it fresh and clean throughout.
- Buy from Off The Line £14.95
Hip Rosé 2018
GRAPES: Pinot Noir, Price: £18.50
The third and final wine is made solely from Pinot Noir. As with the other two rosés, no deacidification or malolactic fermentation took place.
The Hip Rosé has an appealing salmon-coloured hue, with very pretty aromas of red cherry, raspberry, cherry blossom and citrus peel.
To taste, this had a fresh citrus and cranberry fronting, before the red cherry and slightly fleshy fruit flavour kicked in. It’s a delicate wine, but the somewhat grippy finish stood out and made this my overall favourite of the three.
- Buy from Off The Line £18.50