Date Visited: Saturday 5th September 2015
Location: Pulborough, West Sussex
Entry Price: FREE!
There’s definitely something in the soil in Pulborough! Nutbourne Vineyards is located less than a mile away from Nyetimber, and in fact on the same Road. The first vines in this family owned vineyard were planted back in 1980. With now around 30 acres of land under vine, Nutbourne’s expansion has started to earn the attention of the industry (and the critics). Set in a picturesque landscape with interesting surroundings including an alpaca farm and a converted 19th century windmill, Nutbourne is an excellent English vineyard to make a trip to. The windmill has been converted into a shop, where upstairs all of the wines can be purchased (and tasted). The windmill has an open terrace that you can walk around, tasting glass in hand as you take in the stunning panoramic views of the vineyard – it’s really quite a beautiful sight.
The earliest verities of grapes planted at Nutbourne were mostly of Germanic origin, including English staples such as Bacchus and Rechensteiner, as well as the lesser-known varieties of Huxelrebe and Schönburger. All of these grapes are still grown today, producing those typically aromatic and fruity English still whites whines. More recently Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc have been planted, to allow an expansion into Sparkling wines.
Nutbourne is open to the public for free self-guided tours around the vineyards and grounds. It’s such a peaceful area of the world and large enough for a good walk around. There’s also the added benefit of being able to taste some of the wines within the extensive range. There is always something open in the shop for tasting, however I was very lucky to be able to try the full ranges of 8 wines currently available for purchase. You can find my thoughts on all of the wines below.
A very helpful lady called Irene was on hand for information and advice on how to tour the expansive vineyards. She has worked with Nutbourne for around 10 years, and in fact had previously picked grapes for Nyetimber. Irene is a very knowledgeable lady about Nutbourne, English wine and wine in general. She explained to me a little about the vineyards owners; Husband & wife team Peter and Bridget Gladwin have owned and run the vineyard since 1991. It’s very clear that a lot of care is put into the business, from the tendering of the vines to Bridget’s own original artwork that is used on the labels on the bottles of each of the wines in the current vintage.
The Gladwin’s three sons; Richard, Oliver and Gregory run two restaurants in London: The Shed in Notting Hill and Rabbit in Chelsea. The brothers have also written The Shed Cookbook and both restaurants serve a selection of the best wines that Nutbourne produce.
I didn’t have the chance to visit the winery, located onside adjacent to the windmill, however I do know that it is an extensive facility with the capacity to produce over 60,000 litres of wine per vintage. Consultant winemaker Owen Elias heads winemaking duties. Owen is well known in the industry and also consults for Hush Heath, and was instrumental in Chapel Down’s growth where he was head winemaker for 10 years. It’s clear they are doing something right, as the wines are gathering critical acclaim including 3 2015 UKVA Medals for Bacchus 2014 (Gold), Sussex Reserve 2014 (Silver) and Chardonnay 2013 (Bronze) and a IWSC Gold Medal 2014 for the Nutty Brut 2011 and Gold Medal 2015 for Sussex Reserve 2015.
Nutty "Wild" 2013
Grapes: Pinot Noir Price: £14.00
Made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, this is the lighter (just 10%) little brother of the award winning Nutty Brut. Named ‘Wild’, this is unusually a zero dosage wine, released relatively young (2013 vintage) compared to other English Fizz. Beautiful pale salmon colour in the glass, it has got a light nose of lemon and raspberry with mineral tones.
Vibrant acidity on the palate, bone dry but still retaining lots of red fruit flavours. It’s like a summer berry pudding without the sugar, with a good citrus zest leading to dry lasting finish.
This wine really excites me; it’s super fresh, light but intense and refreshing with elegance and purity to really make it stand out. Great to see an English winery trying something different. A steal at £14.00/bottle.
Nutty Brut 2012
Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Reichensteiner Price: £22.00
Much more aromatic on the nose than the Nutty ‘Wild’, this would be due to the inclusion of Reichensteiner in the grape blend.
The nose features notes of lemon, apple, peach, with some tropical fruit and hints of biscuit and pastry.
Very clean palate, lots of rich zesty flavours with baked apples and more of those pastry notes.
I found the finish a little short, and whilst there is no doubting it’s an elegant and quality sparkling wine, I found the Nutty Wild more unique.
Grapes: Chardonnay Price: £12.50
This is the first vintage of single varietal Chardonnay from Nutbourne, and it’s already gone on to win a couple of bronze medals (IWSC & UKVA).
It’s an unoaked Chardonnay, so the fruity characters of the grape really come through on the nose, with notes of green apple, lemon and hints of nectarine.
On the palate again it’s all about the fruit; good acidity with citrus and lots of tangy apple richness. Good length and dry finish. A good example of a clean and tasty English Chardonnay.
Grapes: Bacchus Price: £13.50
Classically Bacchus on the nose, this is rich on the elderflower, citrus and gooseberry notes. Greener hints of nettle and tomato stem.
Lemon and lime on the palate with acidity to match - quite zingy! Then a fruity mix transitioning from sharp grapefruit through to smoother elderflower notes.
This wine has a dry bite, but sweeter notes floral notes develop and leading to finish of spice and minerality. One of the most vibrant Bacchus' I've had, and very deserving of the recently awarded UKVA Gold Medal.
Sussex Reserve 2013
Grapes: Bacchus, Huxelrebe & Reichensteiner Price: £11.50
Another excellent delicate and aromatic white wine from Nutbourne.
The Sussex Reserve has a typically English aromatic nose of predominantly elderflower floral notes coupled with fresh greener nettle/grassy tones.
Palate appears fruitier with a mix of apple and ripe tropical fruit flavours, fresh citrus tones and again that greener floral character that came through on the nose.
Grapes: Pinot Noir & Schönburger Price: £12.50
The quintessential English Rosé experience with a clean pale salmon flesh colour in the glass.
On the nose we've got mostly red berry notes of strawberry & raspberry, combined with a fresh citrus overtone.
The palate is more intense than I expected, with quite a lively burst of lemon citrus character and acidity. Mid taste is smoother with ripe strawberry flavours and a slightly creamy mouthfeel.
Very much a summer drinking rosé, with surprising length and vibrancy.
Grapes: Bacchus & Schönburger Price: £13.50
Perhaps my favourite of the still wines from Nutbourne, this is a late harvest Bacchus / Schönburger blend.
Nose is really vibrant with an aromatic mix of elderflower, mango, floral and citrus character.
Crisp bite initially on the palate, great acidity but with a much rounder off-dry fruity mid palate with apple and hints of sweet ripe mango. There's hints of rose water and (as the name would suggest) hedgerow/berry leaf too.
A delicious wine, lively and full in flavour with a sweeter fruit streak running through it all.
Pinot Noir 2014
Grapes: Pinot Noir, Price: £12.00
A game of two halves? I tried this at the winery and was pleasantly surprised, only to be disappointed with a bottle at home.
First time round I observed a thin appearance, but surprisingly rich nose with cherry, liquorice and subtle hints of vanilla. The palate was quite light, but very defined dark fruit flavours, smooth oaky notes and good acidity.
The bottle I had at home was totally different; musty liquorice and confected fruits on the nose, unwelcome fizz coupled with only sharp acidic tastes. I will give it the benefit of the doubt and put down the second experience as a bad bottle.