Flint Vineyard is one of the country’s most consistent still winemakers. Winemaker Ben Witchell produces wines with a distinctive style – textural and vibrant in fruit, often with a well-considered oak influence. They are also known for their playful, summer-friendly Charmat Rosé. This brand new ‘VMV’, a multi-vintage blend, is only the vineyard’s second Traditional Method sparkling release – so it was with great anticipation that I tasted it.
‘VMV’, or Venn Multi Vintage, has been in planning since the year of first production at Flint in 2016. It’s a blend of the best juice across three vintages, with 2016 and 2017 being aged in neutral Burgundian oak and 2018 staying in tank. All wines went through Malolactic Fermentation, and the final blend was bottled in 2019 before being disgorged this year. Interestingly, Ben is holding back half of the wine on the lees for a further two years so that customers can taste side by side in the future and see the development of the wine both on the lees and under cork.
The nose on the VNV is really quite distinctive, with aromas of red apples, golden plums and lemon zest, as well as a pronounced floral note of jasmine or orange blossom. I also picked up the influence of oak – a lightly spiced oak and almost herbaceous that I often pick up on Ben’s wines – particularly his Silex Blanc.
To taste, this wine has a real sense of purity and freshness. There’s quite a racy burst of citrus and almost tropical fruit up front. It’s more yuzu than lemon, with a hint of something slightly exotic that I couldn’t quite place. It’s a brisk, lean expression thanks to the low dosage of 5g/l, but that’s countered nicely by the concentration of the fruit and the slight warmth of oak running in the background.
Although it’s spent three years on the lees, I did not pick up on too much autolytic influence. There’s perhaps a slight hint of baked bread in there, but this wine is really all about that fruit purity.
Overall, the VMV is really quite unlike anything else I’ve tasted for quite some time and it will be fascinating to see how it evolves.