As the 2019 harvest swings into action, and with the ‘coming of age’ of English wines as seen at the recent WineGB trade and press tasting, Kent-based producers Hush Heath Estate, known for their award-winning Balfour wines, have just launched a unique series of Winemaker exclusives.
The WINEMAKERS’ COLLECTION are three limited edition wines in – one sparkling and two still – created as individual expressions of the styles and passions of the vineyard’s winemaking trio: Head Winemaker Victoria Ash, Assistant Winemaker Fergus Elias and Hush Heath’s Consultant Owen Elias.
Ready in time for the Christmas market, these wines have the added bonus of strikingly abstract labels, specially commissioned from well-known contemporary British artist Keith Coventry and reflecting the Balfour-Lynn family’s love of the arts.
Victoria Ash’s Blanc de Blancs is a 100% Chardonnay from the 2012 and 2013 vintages, barrel fermented, and matured in French oak for twelve months. With zero dosage, it is believed to be the first of its kind in England. Victoria comments: ‘For me it is the Chardonnay that really typifies the Hush Heath Estate, bringing forward herbaceous tones and powerful saline notes. These grapes come from specific blocks of very special vines. From my experiences in New Zealand, it was an exciting opportunity to put some of our best Chardonnay juice into old French Oak, and create a completely different style for the winery.’
Fergus Elias went for something entirely different. This Septered Isle 2018 – a play on the French word for seven – is a still white made from the seven permitted grape varieties used in Champagne. Apart from Pinot Gris, the other six are all grown at Hush Heath – Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Petit Meslier, Arbanne and Pinot Meunier. He says: ‘I was inspired after tasting a sparkling base wine we made in 2014 with six of the champagne grape varieties from the estate. It had fantastic complexity, and real still wine potential. But it was not until the exceptional 2018 harvest, and the unearthing of a small local parcel of Pinot Gris, that This Septered Isle was born.’
Meanwhile, Fergus’ father Owen has skilfully created The Red Miller 2018, a still red from a single plot of exceptionally ripe Pinot Meunier – usually the ‘quiet partner’ in a classic sparkling blend. Harvested on 19th October last year, it was given 3 days fermentation on the skins, followed by a brief time in French and American oak, minimal filtration and no fining, Owen says; ‘Pinot Meunier is rarely seen as a still red anywhere in the world. Here we have a delicate and aromatic wine which will be extremely interesting as it develops over the next two years.’
Commenting on this exclusive collection, and the idea behind it, Hush Heath Estate owner Leslie Balfour-Lynn said: “Art and wine have been closely connected throughout history and in our tasting room at Hush Heath Estate we have wonderful art and sculptures on display. It thus seemed appropriate to create labels designed by one of my favourite British artists, Keith Coventry to celebrate the unique nature of our three Winemaker’s wines.”
Victoria Ash Blanc de Blancs rrp £80; This Septered Isle rrp £40 and The Red Miller rrp £40 will be available via the Hush Heath website shop and through exclusive listings in the UK trade.