Please bear with me whilst I try and set the scene for you. You’re a young lady who’s grown up on the beautiful open farmlands of South Africa. You’ve grown up eating the fresh food of your father’s land. You eat ripe avocados picked straight from the tree, fresh fruit is collected directly from the orchards to your fruit bowl, and you drink wine whilst overlooking the very vines they have been grown from.
Then one day, whilst on holiday in gloriously sunny England (because some tourists do get lucky), you meet a very charming English gentleman, also from a farming family, and with a history dating back to 1743. He steals your heart and promises to come back and visit you in South Africa. He prolongs his stay and you pass the time getting to know each other, steadily falling in love. Remembering back to your wonderful holiday in England, you dream of long walks together in the green grassy fields, growing a big family and living in a beautiful old country house. Within six months you’re engaged.
Not having a lot of money, your groom agrees to getting married in your beautiful heartland. Surrounded by lush landscapes and stunning vineyards, you know you will miss your family but can’t wait to get started on your new life in the pastures green of olde England. And then your plane comes in to land at Gatwick, the clouds are low, the weather is bleak, the day is dismal and you wonder what on earth you have done…
With all the produce made at the Goring farm being sent out to faraway places, Pip Goring began to miss the fresh fruits of her homeland. But, full of hope, Pip came up with an idea to try and quell her feeling of homesickness: to plant a vineyard on the sunny South East facing slopes of the farm.
Thinking this all quite fanciful, the answer from her new husband was no. Having always dreamt of a big family, Pip and Harry went on to have six children but Pip’s dream of having a vineyard was not suppressed.
Many years later, in 2005, to be precise, some inquisitive French men came knocking on the door. They happened to be from two very famous Champagne houses, enquiring about the deep chalklands below the farm’s land. They were interested in renting some of the land for growing Champagne varieties. Now this had Harry Goring’s attention. Finally, the idea of a vineyard did not seem quite such a crazy notion. But realising he’d be in big trouble if after three decades his wife's request was declined, he handed the project over to Pip to handle.
So after 34 years, it was finally time for Pip to realise her dream, and in 2006 the first vines were planted. Fast forward to today, and this is a growing family business. The labels incorporate the family crest and they are a beautiful turquoise which is Pip’s favourite colour. Talented winemaker, Dermot Surgue, joined at the very start of the new venture, and they’ve had wonderful results from the very first vintage. The wines have been winning awards year on year and HRH Queen Elizabeth even used the Wiston Brut NV to launch P&O’s Britannia cruise liner. And the great news is that the expansion of the winery, and of the business, is currently under construction.
Speaking of awards, I must mention the 2009 Estate Cuvée. This wine won Gold at the International Wine and Spirit Competition. The first lot are available to buy whilst the rest have been held back to be released in the future, at a much higher price.
- 25 Acres
- By Appointment
Wiston Cuvée Brut NV
GRAPES: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
Now I have to mention this wine because at £26.50 this is proof of just how delicious a British NV sparkling can be, without having to save it for a special occasion.
Light honeyed brioche notes are accompanied by featherlight bubbles which take flight en bouche.
The finish is of a savoury citrus nature that is testimony to the purity of fruit and achievable minerality of the chalky Sussex soils.
- Buy from Wiston Estate £26.50
Wiston Cuvée Brut 2009
GRAPES: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier
(Previous review by John) This latest Cuvée from Wiston combines youthful freshness and exuberant depth. With an impressive six years on lees, and over a year under cork, it is one of the most mature English Sparkling wines on general release.
Plentiful bubbles lift aromas of fresh citrus, rich almond pastry and lush, sweet brioche.
To taste, the ’09 greets you with its bright, crisp green apple and citrus acidity. The seven years of lees ageing brings weight, depth and balance to that lively freshness.
I tasted this last year at the winery with winemaker Dermot Sugrue and commented that the wine felt quite tense, not quite ready to share its beauty. One year on and it has shed that tightness, maintaining the bursting energy, but combining it with depth, texture and complexity.
- Buy from Wiston Estate £35.50
Wiston Blanc de Blancs 2011
(Previous review by John) I tried this wine pre-release a couple of years back and proclaimed that it might just be even better than the brilliant Wiston Blanc de Blancs 2010. After a long wait, the new vintage has finally arrived, shrouded in the usual sense of elegance and mystery that the distinctive Wiston black glass bottle exudes.
It’s a lively pour, with a similarly exuberant nose of baked apple, apricot, hints of brioche and honeyed pastry as well as a light dusting of minerality.
To taste, this is unmistakably Dermot Sugrue. Wiston’s endearing winemaker has a penchant for driving, striking acidity, resulting in wines with wonderful poise and tension.
This Blanc de Blancs 2011 is a classic example of this, with intense, zingy citrus and crunchy green apple, leading to ripe apricot and creamy lemon curd textures. The finish is seasoned with toasted hazelnuts and mineral tones, rounding off a thoroughly captivating English sparkling experience.
- Buy from Wiston Estate £42.50
In our latest Round-up, John takes a look at harvest 2020 and selects a range of the latest, most delicious still and sparkling English wines.
What better way to show your partner you love them on Valentine's than to pop open a bottle of crisp, home-grown English sparkling rosé.
The IEWA 2019 results are out, John takes a look at some of the 22 Gold Medal winners from this year's competition.
John's latest round-up of English wine recommendations to enjoy this summer.
The results for IEWA 2018 are out, we look at the winning trends in English Wine and pick six of the best medal winners.
Part 2 of our Summer themed English Sparkling Rosé lineup.