There`s a right-of-way called Saxon Shoreway which cuts a swathe through the Kent vineyards of Gusbourne Estate, and once upon a time this path did indeed walk the English shore. So it`s no surprise that the clay and sand soils on which these vineyards sit are full of maritime deposits, which in turn may go some way to explaining the saline character that often comes across in the estate`s sparkling wines. A millenium later, and mainly thanks to land reclamation, the sea is now six miles away as the crow flies (over Romney Marsh), but there is still a powerful coastal wind blowing over. It`s remarkably effective at drying the grapes off after those sudden English showers, and has facilitated more than one harvest here.
Like the English sparkling wine industry as a whole, it`s still early days for Gusbourne. Not for the estate as a whole, which dates back to 1410, but for wine production here - the first vines were planted in 2004, and 2006 was the debut vintage released in 2010. So there are still plenty of experiments going on, and new vineyards yet to come online, including some recently acquired in Sussex. All Gusbourne fruit is home grown, which means they get to be as fastidious they like about quality, and it`s very high here. They also frustrate their shareholders by holding back on releasing vintages until they feel they are ready, which can mean the wine going off radar for a while, but guarantees you a properly delicious bottle when it does arrive. (NT 05/10/16)