In a quest to represent the pure Hampshire terroir, 60-acre single-vineyard Exton Park director Corinne Seely treats her Chardonnay with kid gloves and, for the most part, minimal barrel aging and low MLF. They have now looked to French coastal waters to help achieve another level of focus in their wines.
Enter the 2014 vintage of “60 below”
60 below is a perfect copy of 60 above, sourced and bottled on-site at Exton Park, with no barrel ageing and no MLF in both iterations. The 60 below has one key difference. It’s aged on the lees for one out of its seven years 60 metres below sea level off the coast of Brittany.
A happenstance meeting between Denis Drouhin of Amphoris and Corinne Seely led to this pioneering experiment for English wine.
Amphoris has long had a reputation with sea ageing beverages, but this is the first time an English sparkling wine producer has dipped their toes (pun very much intended) into ocean submerged maturation. The underwater cellars off the coast of Brittany are situated at depths of – 60m and -20m below sea level and hold tens of thousands of bottles of Champagne, sparkling wine, still wine and spirits in their patented caissons.
If I’d never (and bear with me here), tried Fino En Rama 2020. I would never have believed that opening a cellar door would affect the maturation of wine, allowing light, oxygen and humidity variation into a cellar. That is what is so special about sea ageing. The bottles live in near-perfect darkness, no oxygen can enter, and the atmospheric pressure outside the bottle matches that within.
It’s so exciting to see an English wine producer pushing the boundaries while looking to keep a consistent house style that will be instantly recognisable as Exton Park. They patently know their USP, acidity, focus, tension, salinity and determination to represent their terroir.
Keep your eyes peeled. Exton Park plans on releasing just 180 of these very limited edition bottles of 60 below later this year. Patience will reward those that can stand to keep 2014 on the cork a little longer.