In the ever-expanding world of English Wine there’s always something new and exciting around the corner. There always seems to be a new producer or new wine to talk about, and one of the latest to arrive on the scene is Sussex outfit, Everflyht. Boasting a bottle as sleek and aerodynamic as a Tesla car, and a label that delivers similarly modern and clean lines, their first releases certainly look the part. They also taste superb.
Sam and Ben Ellis are the people behind Everflyht, and with an established business in modern and stylish property development it’s no surprise they have brought an incredibly well-constructed brand, and wines, to the market. The ten-hectare estate was established with the initial plantings in 2016 when the first 3 hectares of Chardonnay and Pinots Noir and Meunier vines went into the ground. Further plantings took place in 2021, bringing the total under vine to 6.8 hectares – with no current plans to expand further.
The second phase of planting also saw Pinot Gris, Pinot Précoce and, interestingly, Gamay join further plantings of the big trio of sparkling grape varieties. Asking Sam about the selection of varieties planted, she told me that their ethos “is to always go with what we like to drink ourselves”. With Sam and Ben enjoying both light reds and still rosé (in addition to the obvious sparkling wine interest), the hope is to produce a small range of limited-release still wines when the season allows. We might even see a still Chardonnay if the stars align.
Although Sam has worked with Félix Gabillet, winemaker at Hambledon in Hampshire, a decision has not yet been taken on who to collaborate with on potential still wines. Sam explained that there are no current plans to build a winery themselves – instead, they are focussing on growing the very best fruit they can with the vineyards under the watchful eye of vineyard manager, Luke Spalding, who previously worked at Ridgeview.
Similarly, there are no plans for a significant tourism offering, with the business instead launching a more considered Wine Club entitled Murmurations. Two membership offerings go live today with the launch of the wines. The upper package, which also includes allocation of the wines, will be the only way to secure access to, and a tour of, the estate and vineyards. The initial offering will be split into two options: M01 will offer a six-bottle allocation, a 10% discount and access to exclusive events at £220 annually. Meanwhile, M02 doubles up the allocation to 12 bottles, includes a tour for six and costs £420 annually.
Even in the increasingly crowded category of English Sparkling Wine, I must say these first wines from Everflyht are a confident calling card and signal an optimistic future for the fledgling estate. The wines are on sale today (see below for the links to buy the wines), and retail at £28.00 for the Brut NV and £40.00 for the indulgent Rosé de Saignée 2019.
Everflyht Rosé de Saignée 2019
Grapes: Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
This wonderful Saignée Rosé, where the colour is extracted from skin contact during pressing rather than the blending of red wine, makes a statement by design. Sam describes this wine as “a departure from some of the lighter, paler styles of Saignée on the market, providing an interesting contrast to recent trends”, and that’s absolutely what you’ll first notice about this wine’s vibrant cloak.
It’s a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Pinot Meunier, with all of the fruit coming from the 2019 vintage. The nose is as confident as the wine’s vivid colour, with evocative aromas of ripe cherry, wild raspberry and dried strawberries. I also picked up a definite vanilla, smoky note which is explained by 35% of the wine having been fermented and aged in old Burgundy barrels.
The palate doesn’t let you down, with all the red fruit forwardness that the nose promises. This is a real summer red berry pudding fusion, supported by a multi-faceted textural journey of winter spice, vanilla and a slightly savoury earthiness which I find that a high proportion of Meunier brings to a blend.
I thought this was outstanding, and it has made me an immediate fan of what Everflyht are doing.
Everflyht Brut NV
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier
I must admit that I was a little concerned to be tasting this wine a little over a month post-disgorgement. However, the fact that the wine still showed huge potential cemented the idea in my mind that Everflyht will be a force to be reckoned with.
This inaugural NV vintage takes a base wine from 2019 with 24% reserve wines from a small first harvest in 2018. It’s a blend of 47% Pinot Noir, 47% Chardonnay and 6% Pinot Meunier.
The nose of red apple, preserved citrus with roasted hazelnut and brioche, is classy and refined. However, the palate’s balance between the crisp orchard and citrus fruits at its core, and then the riper, juicier mid-taste of nectarine and white peach, is what really impresses. It all ends on a generous seasoning of nutty complexity and lightly saline minerality.
This is another triumphant statement, and I would be really curious to see how it tastes with a bit more cork age too.