Sussex has been accorded special privileged status. The county’s sparkling wine has received official Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, as approved by the Ministry for Farming, Fisheries and Food.
A PDO identifies products that are produced, processed and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognised knowledge and techniques of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned.
It means that wineries such as Artelium, Bolney (Est. 1972), Nyetimber and Busi Jacobsohn, which all produce sparklings in the region, will receive an extra layer of protection and have the right to bear the Sussex Sparkling Wine PDO on their bottles.
The PDO also emphasises the importance of terroir in English winemaking by differentiating sparklings made in Sussex from those made in Kent or Surrey, for example.
Simon Thorpe, CEO, WineGB, comments:
“The approval of a PDO for wines grown and made in Sussex comes at an important time for English and Welsh wines. There has never been more interest in and demand for our wines and the reputation they have gained in both domestic and international markets is based on high quality viticulture and winemaking excellence.”
Award-winning East Sussex sparkling wine producer Busi Jacobsohn has launched its third English sparkling vintage, Blanc de Noirs. Celebrating seven years since planting, the limited edition 2018 vintage, with 36 months on lees, is a new Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier blend of outstanding quality. The Eridge Green estate winemakers are Swedish couple, Susanna Busi Jacobsohn and Douglas Jacobsohn.
“It’s taken a long time, but it is welcome news hailing the quality of the Sussex region’s top sparkling wines. This will be helpful for consumers who can now be assured that when drinking Sussex PDO wines, they are drinking wines of which high quality standards are required.”
Nyetimber’s owner and chief executive, Eric Heerema says:
“Greensand and chalk soils allow our vines, in each of our separate sites, to flourish across the south of England. The climate here allows for the slow ripening of our grapes, allowing us to achieve the optimum levels of ripeness and acidity, as well as the complexity and finesse for which our exquisite wines are renowned.”
Head Winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, and her winemaker husband Brad Greatrix oversee production at the vineyard in the lee of the South Downs which was first planted in 1988 with “the holy trinity of sparkling wine grapes” – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Artelium has just won the best cellar door buy English White award at the prestigious IWC (International Wine Challenge). Vineyard manager Chris Buckley and winemaker Owen Elias are responsible for Artefact #2 Barrel-Aged Chardonnay produced from the vineyard’s first harvest in Streat in 2020.
Artelium is owned by digital infrastructure entrepreneur Mark Collins and award-winning tech innovator Julie Bretland.
Marl and Sarah Driver founded the Rathfinny Wine Estate in 2010.
“Three miles from the sea, we are located on the same band of chalk that forms the Paris Basin, running from Northern France into Southern England. We believe that Sussex will become a quality marque.”
As part of the Sussex Wine Trail, you can stay at the Alfriston estate’s Flint Barns. The Tasting Room restaurant was awarded the Michelin Plate 2020 and 2021.
Not only does the PDO recognise the particular growing conditions found in Sussex, but it also shows the commitment of wine makers in this region to produce high quality still and sparkling wines under strict production criteria.
Sussex wine is the second product to be granted protection under the new UK GI scheme, after Gower Peninsula saltmarsh lamb.
Sussex is responsible for more than a quarter of all the wine produced from the 8,700 acres of English vineyards. The new PDO will restrict the grape varieties that can be used to make “Sussex” wines, with hand harvesting and restrict yields designed to ensure only the best grapes are used, along with longer bottle ageing for Sussex sparkling wine.
Art Tukker, owner of the Tinwood Estate in Chichester, West Sussex, which was first planted in 2007 and offers three luxury lodges, says:
“The Sussex PDO will cement the bond between the unique soils and climate of the Sussex countryside, giving our wines a sense of place and purpose on the world stage among Champagne and our other great rivals.”
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Bolney Sparkling Wine – Photo credit: Julia Claxton courtesy of Bolney Wine Estate / Nyetimber Sparkling Wine – Photo credit: London Wine Week