At the time of writing, it’s National Drink Wine Day. This feels like a serious issue, so here at SE HQ, we decided to take the opportunity to taste test three Sussex sparkling wines. We deliberately did no advanced research into the three wines we were trying as we wanted to approach this with a blank canvas or rather, a blank palate. And we were curious about how different they would be from one another.
We chose wines from East and West Sussex, namely from Ditchling, Steyning and Petworth, although the Petworth wine (Roebuck Estates) grow their vines on different sites across Sussex. Having tasted each wine individually, one after the other, we tasted them all again (well you would, wouldn’t you?).
Court Garden’s Classic Cuvée Brut 2018
First up was the only white sparkling wine of our threesome. Court Garden is an award-winning, family-run vineyard near Ditchling (East Sussex) and this wine is a classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes. They describe this vintage as a result of near-perfect conditions and it’s won a number of awards.
Our thoughts: punchy with apple and citrus flavours and lots of body. It’s a nice, dry sparkling wine and we felt it makes a great winter champagne for those festive celebrations or nights in by the fire. You can get a half bottle for £18.95 or a case of six half bottles for £102.90, and we loved the branding and labels, as well as the historical background provided on the bottle.
Roebuck Estates’ Rosé de Noirs 2016
Roebuck Estates are another award-winning vineyard based near Petworth (West Sussex) although the grapes for this wine were grown at their Roman Villa vineyard. They use Pinot Noir grapes whole-bunch pressed and partially fermented in oak casks. Then “A splash of Pinot Précoce is added prior to release imparting an attractive pale pink hue and ripe red fruit characteristics”. This wine has also won a number of awards.
Our thoughts: very bubbly, dry and crisp, this is a super light and subtle sparkling wine. We could taste cherry, plum and citrus, and yearned to sip this pale rosé on the terrace on a hot summer’s day. It’s £42 a bottle.
Wiston Estate’s Rosé Non Vintage
The Wiston Estate near Steyning (West Sussex) has some great family history to accompany their vineyards which they started planting in 2006. This wine is a classic blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier and involves whole bunch pressing through a basket press, before fermenting in stainless steel.
Our thoughts: lots of colour and flavour and although it’s a dry sparkling wine, you definitely taste the sweetness of raspberries and strawberries. It’s full of flavour and very fragrant and for us, this was our spring drinking choice, perfect for those first forays outside, like Easter lunch in the garden. It’s £29.50 a bottle.
Having tasted and re-tasted all three, we had to ask ourselves to pick a winner. In the end, we couldn’t. They are all great sparkling wines and they all have their own place. It was fascinating to find such diversity in wines that are grown in similar terroir and we’ve now only got another 57 Sussex vineyards to visit! It’s going to be a good year.
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