West Sussex, England
The Nyetimber Estate is based in the heart of West Sussex, on what is regarded as a perfect site for the production of sparkling wine. The Estate, which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, was first established as a vineyard in 1988 when just over 14 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines were planted. Ever-increasing demand for Nyetimber’s sparkling wines led to considerable vineyard expansion from 2006 onwards. Nyetimber now has 11 carefully selected vineyards across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, with a total of 327 hectares under vine.
The Estate is owned by Dutchman Eric Heerema who, alongside Head Winemaker Cherie Spriggs, has installed an impressive cellar. All of their grapes are 100% estate-grown, handpicked and gently pressed, parcel by parcel, by six state-of-the-art Coquard presses from Champagne. Nyetimber’s vineyard holdings lie either on chalk or greensand soils, both of which are favoured for their good drainage and low vigour. The vines are rigorously managed to ensure excellent flavour concentration and de-leafing is carried out to maximise the exposure of the grapes to sunlight.
Head Winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, won the much-coveted IWC ‘Sparkling Winemaker of the Year’ in 2018. She is the first winemaker outside of Champagne and the first woman to achieve this impressive accolade.
Nyetimber was the first producer to make English Sparkling Wine exclusively from the ‘Champagne varieties’: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. Nyetimber provides a lot code on the back label of each bottle. Entering this code on their website will provide a precise chronology of each bottle from the moment it was bottled to when it was riddled and disgorged.
Their flagship wine, the Classic Cuvée, was moved to a multi-vintage blend in 2016 and is aged for more than three years on lees. It shows spicy and toasty aromas and a wonderful development on the nose. The palate is elegant and complex, with aromas of honey, almond and pastry. Perfect to enjoy on its own or with smoked salmon, sushi or oysters.
The Blanc de Blancs sees a small portion of the Chardonnay go through barrel fermentation and, following the second fermentation in bottle, ages for around five years on the lees. This gives the wine a subtle richness of character. It shows a great combination of floral and citrus notes with deeper notes of pastry and brioche. The Rosé can pair beautifully with slightly weightier dishes and has a delicate nose of anise, redcurrants, raspberries and cherries. The renamed ‘Cuvée Chérie’ Demi-Sec, which is a nod to Head Winemaker Cherie Spriggs (and a reference to the slightly sweeter style of the wine), adds a unique element to their portfolio. A wonderful accompaniment to fruity desserts, afternoon tea or gently spiced savoury dishes. The ‘Tillington’ is from a single vineyard located in the middle of the South Downs National Park. The plot’s south-facing aspect and excellent shelter and drainage help to produce grapes of exceptional quality. Predominantly Pinot Noir, with some Chardonnay, it spent three years on the lees, creating flavours of toast and praline to complement the intense red fruit characters. The 2013 vintage recently won a gold medal at the 2020 IWC.
In 2018, to celebrate their 30th Anniversary, Nyetimber also launched two Prestige Cuvées, a white and a rosé. These are named ‘1086’ after the Estate’s first mention in the Domesday book and have been ten years in the making. Immediately excelling in blind tastings and receiving lavish critical praise, they have cemented Nyetimber’s place as a leader in the world of sparkling wine.