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August 12, 2014

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee and Tillington Single Vineyard 2009

nyetimber

“The best English sparkling rosé I have tried.” The Telegraph Magazine

“Absolutely delicious, wonderful, golden hue….citrusy bouquet and pleasing aromatic dryness on the palate…” Wall Street Journal

Nyetimber takes pride of place as England’s leading sparkling wine producer. At the 2014 International Wine Challenge, Nyetimber’s 2009 vintage Classic Cuvee Brut was awarded the English white and overall sparkling trophies, along with a Gold Medal. Nyetimber was the first English producer to craft sparkling wine from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, thereby mirroring the time and legally honoured grapes of Champagne. Moreover, it is made in the Champagne method, with all their wines aged for three years on their lees and given ample disgorgement. It is celebrated because it often surpasses the world’s leading champagne’s in blind tastings: the only thing stopping it from entering the pantheon of leading Champagne is that is it not grown there.

Nyetimber’s current vintage release, the 2009 promises to be one of their greatest ever and presents the inaugural vintage of their single vineyard, Tillington. Tillington Single Vineyard is modelled on the ‘Clos’ concept in Champagne and made in tiny quantities, with only 2,500 individually numbered bottles produced, less than 420, 6x75cl cases. Tillington Single Vineyard is peerless in the UK, while the 2009 Classic Cuvee continues to scoop awards, now being put into the IWC Global Sparkling final, where it will be pitted against the greatest Champagnes and sparkling wines in the world. In 2010 the Classic Cuvee 2003 was crowned the world’s best sparkling wine at the World Sparkling Wine Championship in Verona, besting Louis Roederer, Bollinger, Pommery, Gosset…among many others. The competition left many asking how a vintage sparkling wine from west Sussex that costs £25, triumphed against vintage Champagne that cost ten times as much.

The answer to this question is found in the vineyards and the winery. Nyetimber was first planted in 1988 by two eccentric Americans, pioneering a wine to compete with Champagne. Many surmised quality ‘Champagne’ was possible in England, due to the effects of Paris basin, a geological basin of sedimentary rock, which posits incredible soil, rich in clay, limestone and chalk. Nyetimber’s vineyards are planted on the same deep shard of limestone that runs from Champagne: subsoils fundamental to the quality of the aforementioned region. The South Downs mimic much of the climatic influence of Champagne, with cooler conditions perfect for retaining acidity central to fine vintage Champagne. Given the similarity of the conditions it was only natural they planted the Champagne grape varietals.

The estate was bought in 2006 by Eric Heerema an entrepreneur known as the flying Dutchman, who has invested heavily in wine-making facilities and the vineyards. Along with the very talented chief winemaker Cherie Spriggs the estate is going from strength to strength. In fact it was Sprigg’s idea to create the single vineyard Tillington, named after the village where the vineyard is located. She was inspired by the incredible quality of the Pinot Noir grapes in the vineyard which result in what she describes as’ toasted crème brûlée and meringue,’ with ‘strawberry, cherry, mandarin, pastry and a hint of vanilla’. The final blend is 79% Pinot Noir, 21% Chardonnay and comes in at 12% alcohol.  It is a wonderful expression of the vineyard, deriving from a fabulous vintage. With so little produced and very little available in the market, this is certainly a collectors item.

There is no question that the 2009 vintage is superb and the Classic Cuvee swept the field with awards, receiving the same accolades as the 2003, which led English winemakers to toast its success and has finally established English sparkling wine making. The final blend is 55% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir and 19% Pinot Meunier. It was selected by the Queen for her Golden Jubilee and at £27 a bottle duty and Vat paid, for what is equivalent to a leading vintage champagne is a wonderful piece of England’s green and pleasant land.

Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2009, 6×75 - £125 or £168.9 incl. duty and VAT
Janics Robinson 17+
55% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir, 19% Pinot Meunier, dosage 9 g/l. Maturing, creamy nose with a lovely Chardonnay character. Great personality – full and rich, yet with pinpoint structure. A return to form after the 2008. 

Nyetimber Tillington Single Vineyard 2009, 6×75 - £280 or £354.9 incl. duty and VAT
Janicis Robinson, 16.5
Quite deep bronze pale gold. Heady, well developed nose. Lightly appley and definitely with more interest than most English fizz. Lightly honeyed. Not the driest. But it does have some autolysis on the nose. Clean finish. Delicate bead.  

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