West Sussex Ambriel
The Ambriel journey begun when Wendy and Charles Outhwaite drank a bottle of English Sparkling wine nearly twenty years ago and were really impressed by the quality. At the time, they were both working in London and thought that creating a sparkling wine could be an interesting, part time occupation. Needless to say, it quickly became a full-time passion for them both and they are now fully immersed in all aspects of the work in the vineyard and the winery on their idyllic 9.5 hectares, facing the South Downs.
Vineyards and Vinification
The Outhwaites’ vineyard took five years to find, illustrating the quest for perfection that extends to their whole operation. Their vineyard in West Sussex is planted on a south-facing slope on rare, free-draining greensand soil, a definite plus for viticulture based in rainy old England. The underlying greensand rock stores heat from the sun during the day, reflecting this back onto the grapes and aiding ripening.
Their vines are Burgundian clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the classic Champagne grapes. Harvesting is all done by hand, and the whole bunches are gently pressed and then vinified in stainless steel tanks. Occasionally aged white Burgundy oak barrels are used for the primary fermentation to give the wines complexity and softness.
The Outhwaites explain how they blend the final wines blind: “so that our palate – not our wallet – determines the best blend. Blending is at the heart of a great Sparkling Wine and our philosophy is to create wines which reflect the best characteristics of our terroir and the climate of a particular vintage. Then we start the magic of secondary fermentation and let these sleeping beauties lie on the lees undisturbed for years until they are ready to emerge.”
The first vintage produced was in 2010 and the wines now spend 5 to 6 years sitting on their lees, softening out the acidity and adding a biscuity complexity, before being aged further in the bottle. No malolactic fermentation takes place at Ambriel. We offer their Classic Cuvée NV, their Blanc de Blancs 2010 and their sparkling Rosé 2014, and we challenge any English-wine sceptics not to be seriously impressed!
"This is sheer class, being gloriously citrusy and toasty, teasingly complex and blessed with the gentlest of mousses and longest of finishes. My goodness it’s good!"
Jonathan Ray, Spears Magazine
Find their website here: www.ambrielsparkling.com