Sugrue South Downs is the personal project of celebrated English sparkling winemaker Dermot Sugrue. Sugrue has been the winemaker behind many of England’s best sparkling wines for more than 10 years. Previously the winemaker at Nyetimber, he left in 2006 to establish the Wiston Estate Winery. The same year he also planted a one hectare vineyard in Storrington Priory which has been in full production since 2009, producing the highly acclaimed and multi award-winning sparkling wine ‘The Trouble with Dreams’. In 2017, the truly exceptional ‘The Trouble with Dreams 2013’, took the top spot in the Independent English Wine Awards; in 2019, the 2014 vintage was awarded Gold at IWC and more recently, Sugrue was given the highest rating of all English producers by Hugh Johnson in his Pocket Wine Book 2020. In 2023, Sugrue South Downs was named Best Boutique Producer at the WineGB awards.
In 2015, a small crop was produced due to poor weather at flowering. However, warm, dry and sunny weather during September produced excellent conditions for healthy, ripe fruit with wonderfully concentrated flavours.
The grapes come from the Jenkyn Place single vineyard, nestled in the Hampshire Downs. The vineyard covers five hectares of vines, on land that was previously used for cultivating hops. The vineyards sit on sheltered, chalky, south-facing slopes at 100 metres above sea level, with greensand soils over marlstone, making them ideal for growing the high-quality grapes. The greensand topsoil at Jenkyn Place is scattered with eroded fragments of chalk, creating a distinctive -and possibly uniquecombination, which is beginning to be translated into the wines. Chalky soils are associated with more gently-fruited wines of notable finesse, while greensand soils deliver a rounder fruit profile. The first vines were planted in 2004, with further vines added in 2007 and 2010. The vines are grown traditionally with double Guyot training, and sustainable methods are employed to preserve the biodiversity of the environment. The grapes are hand-picked at optimum maturity, sweetness and acidity levels.
The grapes were carefully selected and whole-bunch pressed to obtain the juice, which was fermented with selected yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The secondary fermentation took place in the bottle, as per the traditional method with full malolactic. Dosage of 9 grams per litre.
A complex and harmonious English sparkling wine, showing aromas of green apple and subtle hints of lemon thyme. Beautifully balanced and poised on the palate, which offers good weight and notes of citrus peel, orange zest and delicate hints of strawberry through to an elegant finish.
94 Points, Neal Martin, 2021