MELON DE BOURGOGNE
WE DON'T HAVE ANY WINES FOR SALE YET
The site was planted in April 2022, with a focus on two wonderful but under-represented varieties.
We have planted most of "Field 2" with Pinot Meunier. English vineyard planting in the last decade has been dominated by the three classic sparkling varieties, of which Meunier is one. But it is usually relegated to a 10 or 15% afterthought in a field dominated by Pinot and Chardonnay. It's time this changed.
Meunier is woefully underplanted and undervalued yet it is so perfectly suited to English conditions. It is a chimeric clone of Pinot Noir, recognisable for the floury white undersides of its leaves which give rise to the name Meunier (meaning Miller). It flowers relatively late, cutting the risk of frost damage, and ripens early. It's fairly resistant to the mildew that stalks our mild humid climate. And it produces wines that take many of the best characteristics of Pinot - soft tannins, vegetal depth - but add a wonderful mix of fresh red fruit and smokiness.
A number of English winemakers have started to produce pure varietal Meunier, and almost without exception they have been hits. In our opinion, this has the potential to be one of England's signature grapes. It seems to do very well in our part of East Kent in particular.
We plan to produce a Meunier-dominated sparkling blanc de noirs, as well as a sparkling rose with a little Pinot Noir to add colour and complexity. With a first harvest in 2024 and substantial time on the lees we expect to release our first sparkling wines in 2027 or 2028 at the earliest.
MELON DE BOURGOGNE
Just over a quarter of our surface area will be planted with Melon de Bourgogne (or Melon for short). Melon makes clean, mineral and vaguely saline still white wines around the city of Nantes in North West France and scarcely anywhere else. You may not be familiar with the grape variety, as it usually goes by its appellation name of Muscadet. Quite why it is not more widely planted is a mystery, because at its best - allowed to ripen fully, not over-cropped, and commonly given an extended period of lees stirring - it makes a fresh yet complex white wine with balanced acidity and a tang of the sea, perfect with half a dozen Whitstable Oysters or a half pint of cockles.
We are the first grower of Melon in the UK. When we were deciding on a still variety we considered both Melon and Chasselas, another neutral grape that is heavily planted in one region but almost non-existent elsewhere. Melon clinched it when we ran a side by side comparison of the growing season climate of the two home regions, Vaud in Switzerland and Loire Atlantique in France. Both are warmer in summer than Kent, of course, but Nantes more closely mirrors our Atlantic climate: mild springs, a dry early summer, moderate peak temperatures, and breezy autumns. We are confident Melon will do well.
We plan to make still whites with a little skin contact, and a long time on lees. Again, look out for them in the second half of this decade.