Poor yields in 2021 have led to an interesting blend for this young West Sussex vineyard
Last year was not a great year for English wine. After a series of warm summers, the cooler 2021 vintage proved challenging for growers with spring frosts followed by increased rainfall contributing to risk of disease in the vineyards. Add into the mix labour shortages and it was a real feat for some to manage any harvest at all.
But England’s winemakers are a resilient bunch and, undeterred by the resulting low yields, some have gone ahead to make some excellent wines. Kinsbrook Vineyard, in Thakeham, West Sussex, is a prime example.
With far too little fruit to make their hallmark single-variety wines, Joe Beckett, Rebecca Dancer and the team decided to blend three of their grape varieties; Bacchus, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Précoce, to create the limited-edition KIN 21.
Kinsbook KIN 21 verdict
The blend is an interesting contrast to the vineyard’s hallmark single variety wines, bringing the best characteristics of each of the three grapes to the fore. Bacchus provides a distinct elderflower aroma and adds a zing to the palate, but this is softened and rounded by strong tropical notes provided by the Pinot Gris. The final addition of the red grape, Précoce, adds further body, texture and complexity, resulting in an exciting food-friendly white wine.
This intense, fruit forward blend may not be for everyone. Drank side-by-side with Kinsbrook’s 2020 vintage single-variety Pinot Gris, which has recently been added to the wine list at three Michelin-starred Sketch restaurant, the latter won the vote from our tasters, but then we were not judging like-for-like so it was not a fair comparison.
What is particularly special about this wine is the intent behind it – to make something from a year that otherwise could have been deemed redundant – and that (along with some low-intervention winemaking techniques to really let the fruit do the talking) helps add to the enjoyment.
Kinsbrook could have gone down a different route (as many other vineyards chose to) and used the little fruit they did harvest in 2021 to make a non-vintage in the future. However, in making KIN 21 they have not only demonstrated a willingness to experiment but also a clear determination to succeed.
As they explain: “It’s important to us to be honest and to share and celebrate every part of our journey with our customers – the good and the bad – and 21 is the perfect example of this.”
KIN 21 is available from kinsbrookvineyard.com priced at £25.