A visit to English Vineyard, Albourne Estate

Jun 05, 17 A visit to English Vineyard, Albourne Estate

One unusually bright and sunny Sunday in May, I went down to Sussex to visit Albourne Estate. Situated  about an hour’s drive from London, the vineyards are in an idyllic setting amongst the green and rolling hills of southern England.

Winemaker, Alison Nightingale, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

The estate was founded  and is run by winemaker and co-owner Alison Nightingale. Alison studied at nearby Plumpton College and she is a font of information regarding English wine. She is the chief winemaker and knows the vineyards intimately.

Winemaker and co-owner Alison Nightingale

After arriving, Alison took us on a tour of  the vines and the winery. They are a deliberately small producer with only 10 hectares of vines. Later I asked Alison if they were going to expand and she posited that they probably will but that at the moment they want to remain a boutique winery.

Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

While out in the fields, she explained briefly but concisely everything about her vines, from the soil to the climactic conditions and the recent threat of frost that they had narrowly escaped.

Chardonnay, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

The winery is modern and new with small a collection of oak barrels. Alison explained that being a young winery, they are still in the process of finding what works best for them.

winemaker Alison Nightingale in the winery with oak barrels, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

We then went on to the tasting in a converted old barn which they use for occasional events.

a glass of Bacchus, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

Albourne are commited to sustainable production and try to preserve the habitat for the local flora and fauna. On each of their lables, they have commissioned a local artist to paint the animals and insects that can be found in the vineyards. There is even one of the barn owl that still lives in the old barn.

wine label, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

white Pinot Noir, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

We started with a white pinot noir. Everything is hand picked and all grapes are whole bunch pressed. This blanc de noir was still, not sparkling, and had a very faint salmon pink colour. A bright wine with loads of citric acidity and notes of red fruit on the nose and palate. An enjoyable wine to drink and very good with food, which we had later.

Bacchus, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

Bacchus

label of Bacchus with local hawk, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

Alison believes that the grape Bacchus has a future in England and she has produced a fine, almost water clear one. Notes of elderflower on the nose and palate, and very refreshing, it was light and but with a striking acidity, definitely need food with this wine.

Blanc de blanc, single vineyard, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

English wine is best known for it’s sparkling wines and this is where Albourne really shines. Alison grows chardonnay and pinot noir for her sparklers. We were priviledged to try their first  blanc de blanc, the 2013. It is made from single vineyard and single vintage grapes. Elegant and fresh with finesse and tiny bubbles, which I always love to watch as they spiral up from the bottom of the glass.

Truslers Hill, Pinot Noir rose, Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

Albourne also produce a sparkling rose which I thoroughly enjoyed. The Truslers Hill rose is a pinot noir based sparkler, cherry red in colour but very dry. Excellent with the cheese and crackers we were served or on it’s own, it was one that I went back to more then a few times!

Albourne Estate, Sussex, England, English Vineyard

Albourne Estate is open to the public for tours and tastings as well as vineyard picnics and special events. Their wines are available either through their website or local independent wine merchants.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: