It’s such an exciting time for English wine. We’re beginning to take centre stage not only at home but further afield. If English wine is to become a world leader, then setting a world-class standard in our winemaking is imperative.
Enter Defined Wine
Defined Wine is the UK’s first contract only winery set up by CEO Henry Sugden in 2018. Recognising a gap in the market, with UK winemaking capacity a pinch point, Henry set about solving this problem with Defined Wine. It’s been an in-demand service, to say the least. Last year, overseen by operations manager Poppy Seeley, they disgorged an incredible ninety thousand bottles and they expect to double that this year.
Who do they work with?
Defined Wine work with both large and small producers. They currently have twenty-eight grape growers using their services around England. They have the technology, resources and ability to oversee wine production from the grapes’ arrival, right through to the packaging and marketing. They also provide viticulture sessions to the more novice grower.
“There are lots of opportunities for small and medium-sized producers to get this right, sell locally and convert consumers to the magic of homegrown wine.” – Henry Sugden, CEO.
Enter Nick Lane
With Defined Wine looking to set an industry precedent, they were thrilled to have winemaker Nick Lane join the team in 2020. Nick cut his teeth at Cloudy Bay, where he oversaw thirteen vintages, turning him into quite the expert in cool-climate wines. Nick has also spent time working with the infamous Veuve Cliquot, Moët et Chandon and Dom Perignon. So he’s certainly au fait with what it takes to produce a knockout sparkling wine. Not to mention his three vintages in Burgundy, with time spent in Australia and California to boot.
Having left his native New Zealand for the lure of France at age 17, he’s undoubtedly been in the business long enough to know how to get the most out of grapes. He believes that England is the most exciting country at the moment for sparkling wine, with the stills hot on their fizzy heels, Nick not only has a great technical approach but an appreciation of the philosophy and art behind the wine.
So, what did we taste?
We tried six of their (currently unreleased) offerings showcasing Nick’s range of winemaking skill, working with different varieties and producing different styles of wine.
We began with a sparkling base wine by Bewlwater that will ultimately make a Blanc de Noir , followed by a deliciously ripe Bacchus from Yotes Court (the first sustainable winery in England) That beautiful pink liquid in the middle will be an Ashling Park still rosé produced from 100% Pinot Meunier. A tropical, ripe and rounded Pinot Gris from Heppington, in Kent, came next. (By the way, check out their wine labels, absolutely stunning). A versatile Chardonnay from Wayfarer, Kent (who also have chic simplistic branding). rounding off with an extremely exciting Pinot Noir, made using French and American oak barrel influences from producer Artellium.