Posted on

Woodchester Valley – a Cotswold Classic

Woodchester Valley Vineyard has a couple of claims to fame – highest vineyard in the UK (probably), and most fossils per square metre of ground (definitely). However, on the evidence of the latest vintages, it will be their still and sparkling English wines that will soon be the real claims to fame.

It really is a steep climb from the A46 on the Woodchester Valley floor, up Convent Lane to the foot of the vineyards, which then continue to climb sharply to the brow of the hill. The geology here is perfect for vine growing – the Cotswold Brash limestone sits under a shallow layer of topsoil; it’s slightly fractured with sandy loam in between – perfect for drainage and with the bare minimum of nutrients that force the vines to work hard and deliver high quality fruit. It seems as though every other stone on the rocky surface has a fossilised shell visible on it.

A dozen years of growth

The first planting, of a solitary acre, was in 2007, to assess suitability, and there has been significant expansion across three closely co-located sites since then, with over 50 acres now under vine. Key to their recent development though was the construction of their own winery in 2016, bringing wine-making in-house (their grapes were previously vinified by Three Choirs, up the road at Newent) under the control of Jeremy Mount. This had clearly led to a step change in the quality. Jeremy, like so many English winemakers, studied at Plumpton College near Brighton, but has a wealth of international experience, having worked at wineries in Germany, South Africa, New Zealand, France and the US.

Top 3 Woodchester Wines

Here’s three of their wines that got us especially excited:

Woodchester make two rosés, one from Pinot Noir and one from Rondo. The Pinot Noir is a subtle, summer rosé, but the Rondo version is a perfect autumn and winter rosé – a bit more full-bodied and rounder, packing a super red-fruit punch of strawberries and redcurrants, with a hint of vanilla. With all the ripe fruit flavours, you could be forgiven for thinking that it wasn’t a dry wine, but it is, and fully refreshing for it.

The Cotswold Classic Brut 2017 is a super value English Sparkling Wine, full of crisp green apple and lemon flavours, with lovely mouth-watering acidity, but balanced out by enough sugar to round out the profile and make it extremely moreish.

It’s an unusual, but winning, combination of Seyval Blanc (75%) and Pinot Blanc (25%).

Finally, the Orpheus Bacchus is made from their best parcels of Bacchus, and is an extremely complex, accomplished wine. It is a full spectrum Bacchus, from elderflower to lychee, with amazing intensity and length. Yet while it has intensity it retains balance among the flavour elements – it is not dominated by hedgerow notes or gooseberry as some powerful Bacchus wines are, but rather displays a penetrating yet wonderfully rounded array of aromas.

Woodchester Valley Vineyard really are on form at the moment, and we would urge you to try these exceptional wines!

If you would like to receive future articles by email, please sign up to our mailing list at the bottom of the page below.