As Gusbourne releases England’s most expensive fizz, we round-up the UK’s most exclusive bottles of bubbly
Back in 2014, Charlie Holland – chief winemaker at Gusbourne – identified the potential of the near-perfect harvest and set out to create a complex, age-worthy, late-release wine using only the best parcels of fruit from that year. The result is Fifty One Degrees North, a two-thirds Chardonnay, one-third Pinot Noir cuvée blend which at £195, is England’s most expensive wine to date.
Named after the position of Gusbourne’s vineyards in Kent and West Sussex, the wine has spent 80 months on lees and, according to Charlie, is capable of standing up to a variety of gastronomic flavours. Here’s a look at some more of the most exclusive bottles of English fizz available to buy for that ever-so-special occasion.
Nyetimber 1086 Rosé Prestige Cuvée, £175
Ranking second in the list of England’s most expensive bottles of wine is Nyetimber’s 1086 Rosé Prestige Cuvée 2010. When the Prestige Cuvée was first released in 2018, it was the first ever Prestige Cuvée rosé made in England, representing the pinnacle of the West Sussex vineyard’s winemaking. This 2010 vintage celebrates a pure expression of Pinot Noir red fruit, alongside floral and pastry notes resulting from many years of ageing on the lees.
Nyetimber 1086 Prestige Cuvée, £150
Named to honour the year in which the Nyetimber estate was first mentioned in the Domesday Book and initially launched, along with its aforementioned sister rosé, to celebrate the vineyard’s 30th anniversary, the 1086 classic Prestige Cuvée ranks third in the list of England’s poshest bottles of plonk. A blend of 45% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir and 11% Pinot Meunier, the 2010 has an elegant pale golden colour with complex aromas of fresh grapefruit and nougat. The palate is both delicate and yet generous with a fine minerality and lovely touch of vanilla.
Chapel Down Coeur de Cuvée 2016, £110
Over to Kent for the fourth entry to England’s most expensive bottles of bubbly and with one of Chapel Down exquisite Kit’s Coty collection. The Coeur de Cuvée 2016 is the Tenterden vineyard’s finest expression of sparkling 100% Chardonnay, a rich yet elegant sparkling wine with aromas of apple and shortbread. The palate has incredible purity coming from the chalk soils and finesse which carries the well-integrated oak and fruit characters perfectly.
Exton Park Pinot Meunier Rosé Plot 4, £95
Launched just this month by Exton Park, Pinot Meunier Rosé Plot 4 comes in fifth and encapsulates the very best of the Hampshire vineyard’s pure chalk soils and progressive approach to winemaking.
The single varietal wine follows the 2016 release of Exton Park’s innaugural 100% Pinot Meunier Rosé, which was also a UK first. Named after the chalk rich south-westerly slopped plot where the Pinot Meunier grapes are grown, the wine promises a unique expression of this often overlooked grape that will fascinate sommeliers and wine lovers alike.
“Pinot Meunier is like a sleeping beauty, a grape that has waited patiently to be awoken and adored,” says Exton Park’s wine director Corinne Seely. “When I tasted the juice from our first pressing of Plot 4, I was astounded by the profusion of the flavours. I knew this plot had the potential to express the unique, chalky vineyard soil to create a wine with a very distinctive personality.”
A slow and gently press followed by three years lees ageing and a further three years spent under cork, the result is a delicate but dry rosé, with a balanced floral character and notes of freshly cut flowers, white peach and bright tangerine.
Hambledon Zero Dosage Rosé, £95
Sixth on the list (but actually coming in joint fifth in the list of England’s most expensive fizz) is another rosé form Hampshire.
Made using the saignée method, the final 300 bottles of this limited edition blend of 90% Chardonnay with 10% Pinot Noir red wines (mostly from the 2015 harvest, with tank-aged reserve wines added) were disgorged this year.
A beautiful, vivid wild-strawberry pink with a hue of red onion skin on the rim, the nose is magnolia blossom and wild-strawberry compote with hints of buttered white sourdough toast. The palate is rich and creamy with flavours of strawberry yet balanced by zingy tart, cranberry and pithy Amalfi lemon notes.