House Coren has all the feel-good factor of a great film with a happy ending. A small, new and family-run vineyard, their mission is to produce good quality English wine at a good price and I defy anyone who says they’re not going to succeed.
The story so far
Just west of Horsham, House Coren are wine negociants as well as a vineyard. They planted their first vines in May 2020 and have plans afoot to develop a winery and tasting rooms. They’ve also just produced their first sparkling wine, Boco.
The driving force behind House Coren has to be William Coren, a whirlwind of a wine aficionado. It’s impossible not to like William who, along with his partner, gave up a London lifestyle to follow his dream of owning his own vineyard. As he walked me around his vines on a cold, wet November day, his passion and love for what he does were tangible. I’ve never pretended to know much about wine (other than that I’m very fond of it), but while I saw almost bare vines, he saw detail, progress, a journey and joy. We talked soil, sunshine, pruning and pressing and as I shivered in wet boots, he exuded delight. I expect he is often to be found in the vineyard in the dead of night, checking his vines. And frankly, there are worse places to be with its views across to the North Downs.
House Coren have planted a number of grape varieties including Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Précoce, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay which can take advantage of their combination of chalk and limestone hills and rich clay. They’ve already experienced some of the many trials and tribulations of vineyard life (think – out in the dark, protecting the vines from an unexpected frost) but both William and his partner Louisa seem to be thriving on this new way of life and everything that it throws at them.
While they wait for their vines to mature, it’s their sparkling wine I’ve come to try. It’s called Boco – an Anglicised version of the French “beaucoup” in old Sussex dialect, and even its branding is a thing of great beauty.
Boco is a blend of Reichenstiener, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made using the Charmat method, making it almost unique in the UK. The Charmat method involves a second fermentation stage in a sealed tank rather than in the bottle. This is what helps achieve a crisp wine that is also full and fruity. It’s a method used by Prosecco makers … but oh, this is better than Prosecco.
As William pours me a glass and we observe its golden colour, William explains that he wants this sparkling wine to take me on a journey. And it does. We’re drinking at midday (and in my case on an empty stomach) but it’s crisp and clean and not too sweet. It doesn’t feel too heady but it’s full of flavour, despite its fresh feel. I can taste apple, and pear and then there’s citrus and peaches. I’m not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t this and in short, it’s absolutely superb. Boco feels like it would be as comfortable on a Christmas table as it would be on a summer picnic and at £26 a bottle, that suddenly feels very do-able.
Watch this space
I’ll be honest, I can find wine producers a bit intimidating, so vast is their expertise but William is at pains to explain that he wants to break down that invisible barrier and make understanding and enjoying good wines accessible to all. In that, I have no doubt he’ll succeed. He has energy, enthusiasm, modesty and knowledge in equal measure, and whilst I may be no wine expert, I think House Coren is definitely one to watch.