I’ve been tasting some English sparkling wine and enjoying it so much I thought I had better mention it to Bowes Wine clients in case you might have room at your table over the festive period (or beyond, for that matter) for exceptionally fine fizz grown and made in our own island nation.
A very kind salesperson dropped in some bottles from the Gusbourne estate and having let them rest for a few days on the tasting slab in our Wiltshire office, I broached them with interest.
I had semi raised an eyebrow à la Roger Moore on hearing the price of these wines. They’d better be good, I thought. What I subsequently found in my glass led me to forget their tickets altogether. These wines can stand toe-to-toe with anything from over La Manche at the same price or even considerably more. In short, they are spectacular.
The home of Gusbourne is Appledore in Kent, an estate founded by the de Goosebourne family in 1410.
Vines were first planted here in 2004, with the first wines – the 2006 vintage – being released to critical acclaim in 2010.
Gusbourne grows all its own fruit over 90 hectares of vineyards in both Kent and East Sussex, planted with Burgundian clones of Pinots Noir and Meunier and Chardonnay. The quality of the wine made from these vineyards has led to Gusbourne being voted English Wine Producer of the Year a record three times by the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
Dedication to quality here is evidenced by hand-picking - rather than machine harvesting – and the minimum 28 months that the wines spend nourishing themselves on their lees before further ageing under cork.
2016 Brut Reserve, Gusbourne
£165 in bond per 6
A pale lively lemon colour through which rises quite a spritely mousse. The nose offers more in the way of spice than fruit, although I can pick out russet apples, as well as some small oranges and dried orange. The palate is nicely dry; dosage judged very well. The bead is fine and quite structural, the acidity held within and well controlled. Then the sherbet texture starts: a fine, dry minerality through the back end. This is really classy fizz, showing great length and sustained grip. It has firmness at the finish, could cope with food. There’s something almost meaty about the ending: dense and fulsome. Acidity is green apple, but continues well covered. A delicious and delightful mouthful.
2016 Rosé Brut, Gusbourne
£201 in bond per 6
Very pretty thing in the glass: a pale salmon pink through which comes a lively stream of bubbles. And it smells completely delicious, of domestic fruits – strawberry and raspberry – as well as stone fruit, especially peach. There’s a hint of spice, too. The mousse in the mouth adds a great deal to its structure. It’s a delicious thing, this, showing flavours of red cage fruit along its dense and substantial length. Through it all comes a vibrant apple acidity. This is a thing of real sophistication and I would drink it with some nuts or even charcuterie.