Devon's Lyme Bay Winery has been one of this country's most innovative drinks producers over the last 25 years with an ever-expanding portfolio of wines, ciders, fruit wines, meads and liqueurs.
Sourcing grapes from a selection of top growers in the South of England, they released their first English wine back in 2015. Since then, they have consistently won awards and have quickly become part of the ever-growing success story of English wine.
Their latest release is a fabulous Chardonnay from the exceptional 2018 vintage. Perfect growing conditions across much of the country resulted in high quality grapes, unprecedented yields and wines of great balance. This is the first time they have released a still English Wine vintage ahead of an older year, leaving the 2017 Chardonnay to mature in the cellar.
Managing Director James Lambert said: "As an experienced producer, we consider each harvest in relation to how the growing season will influence the wine. Our focus is to ensure each wine has structure and delivers in terms of flavour and varietal character. As a result, we release each wine when we believe it is ready and most likely to delight discerning drinkers. We are able to do this because we work with a small group of growers that share our interest in nurturing selected still wine clones - an approach that is perhaps unique amongst English producers."
"Our ambition, through minimal intervention in the winery, is to allow each wine to develop so it is the best expression possible of the grape, the vineyard locations and of the particular growing season. That's why we made the decision to release the 2018 now and allow the 2017 to develop its full potential."
The grapes for this wine come from Martins Lane Vineyard in Essex. Picking took place when flavour and phenolic ripeness peaked. This coincided with unprecedented levels of potential alcohol in the UK, reaching 13.5% ABV. Chaptalisation (adding sugar/sucrose to grape juice before fermentation, in order to boost potential alcohol levels) was not necessary and wines retained superb acidic structure. Other vineyards in East Anglia also benefited from these unique conditions for English winemaking.
Fermentation took place in stainless steel, using a mix of wild and Burgundy yeasts. The wine was then aged for a further 11 months in two-year-old French oak barrels with lees stirring.
Appearance: clear, bright, pale gold.
Nose: aromas of peach, tropical fruit and citrus with toasted oak, vanilla and buttery fruit crumble topping.
Palate: juicy notes of stone fruit and tropical fruit with a touch of lemon rind plus soft, creamy, buttery lemon curd and hints of grated almonds and digestive biscuit on the lingering finish.
Food Match: very versatile, but would go particularly well with roast chicken.