Balfour - Hush Heath Estate

Kent, kent England

Balfour - Hush Heath Estate, situated in Kent, dates back to 1503. At the heart of the property is a Tudor manor surrounded by 162 hectares of perfectly manicured oak forests, vineyards, and apple orchards. Forward-thinking Richard Balfour-Lynn first planted vineyards on the property in 2002, with the aim of making England's finest sparkling rosé. Today, the 25 hectares of vineyards and eight hectares of apple trees are meticulously and sustainably managed by a family of viticulturists. The wines, many named after Richard’s family, are made from estate-grown fruit by winemakers Owen Elias and Victoria Ash. Owen is a four-time winner of the UK Vineyards Association 'Winemaker of the Year' and has nearly 20 years of experience making English wines. In the summer of 2018, Balfour - Hush Heath Estate opened their new state-of-the-art winery and cellar door tasting room.

The flagship Brut Rosé is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier, which spends over three years on its lees. The result is a crisp rosé with balanced red berry fruit, richness from the lees ageing and elegance from the restrained dosage. The non-vintage 'Leslie's Reserve' offers great value for an English sparkling wine. It is made from the same three grape varieties as the Brut Rosé and is aged on its lees for 15 months. It is fruity and appealing, with lovely roundness on the palate and a refreshing acidity on the finish. The Blanc de Blancs is only produced in very small quantities and only in the finest vintages. The wine spends 30 months on its lees which adds depth and complexity. It is a clean and vibrant style with crisp acidity and a wonderful lightness.

The estate’s still wines, known as the ‘Family Collection’, are a real discovery. ‘Skye's Blend’, which combines Bacchus, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, has a gooseberry and nettle character with lively acidity that is balanced by good depth on the mid-palate. The pale copper-hued ‘Nannette's Rose’, a blend of Regent, Reichensteiner, Pinot Noir and Dornfelder, has lovely aromas of fresh strawberries and floral notes. ‘Luke’s Pinot Noir’ is an elegant red, with ripe and soft tannins, beautifully balanced acidity and juicy red fruit and spice notes. ‘Liberty’s Bacchus’ is made from grapes from the Foxridge vineyard, the highest point on the estate. A proportion of the wine underwent fermentation in barrel with wild yeasts, resulting in a lovely toasty complexity balanced by zesty acidity. The ‘Springfield Chardonnay’ is the first still Chardonnay that Balfour has made since 2015. Made exclusively from fruit from the marvellous 2018 vintage, with careful use of new French and American oak, this wine showcases the huge potential of English still wines. With a bright straw complexion and a fresh palate of grapefruit and green apple, this wine is drinking beautifully now but also has the capacity to age elegantly. The celebrated 2018 vintage also allowed the winemakers to make some one-off still wines, thanks to the quality of the grapes harvested. ‘The Septered Isle White’ is a blend of the seven traditional Champagne varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Arbanne and Meunier – vinified as a white wine, with lees stirring to add texture and complexity, it has an intense nose, with hints of fresh Kentish fruit and spice, and a rich and complex palate. The Red Miller is 100% Meunier, which spent a brief period ageing in a mix of French and American oak, before being bottled with minimal filtration. It is vibrant and bright, with a raspberry, redcurrant and spice profile and balanced tannins and acidity.

There are also two sparkling apple wines in their range, which are made from a blend of Kentish Cox, Bramley and Russet apples and are fermented in bottle using Champagne yeasts. These are incredibly refreshing and offer a unique alternative apéritif or accompaniment to a cheeseboard. All the orchards, grown over Wealden clay and Tonbridge Wells sand, are grown sustainably and are trained in a traditional pinwheel to aid picking.

 

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