Bluebell Wine Estate in Sussex began in 2005, has nearly 100 acres under vine and has won countless national and international awards. I loved the rustic feel of this converted pig farm set amidst bluebell filled woods.
I visited in mid October 2023 and it was just such a special day. There were so many incredible things to see, learn about and of course, taste! Head Winemaker, Kevin Sutherland, spent the morning with me showcasing the entire range - what a total treat!
Having the winemaker talk you through their creations really is quite mind blowing. You get to hear and see the passion, the story, the craft & creativity that went into each bottle. What I loved most about Kevin's wines is they were each so incredibly individual and had such a personality of their own. A lot of English Sparkling wines can fall into copying Champagne, and he was very clear that he wanted his wines to have their own style. It really shows! I really struggled to pick a favourite as they all have a time and place they'd be perfect for. Easy solution: get them all! They are SO reasonably priced for English wines, especially at this quality level.
Seyval Blanc 2020 - Very aromatic, leafy greens, fresh citurs & floral with a subtle smokiness.
Rosé 2016 - Voted the best UK sparkling rosé 2023, and absolutely deserved, it is simply outstanding. Wild strawberry, cranberry, incredibly delicate yet packed with flavour. Magic!
Classic Cuvee NV - Blend of vintages 2011,2013, 2016,2017 and 2018, with 2018 being dominant, we have creamy, orange, red baked apple, with fresh yeast - divine.
Meunier 2019 - Made from the free run juice (arguably the best bit) with notes of violet, sunflowers and tart redcurrant and rhubarb. A foodie fizz!
Blanc de Blancs 2015 - An amazing 5.5 years on the lees with a super fresh acidity. This made me quite emotional as it smelt like a castle I used to visit a lot as a child, another lovely reminder of how emotive wine can be! An abundance of citrussy fruits also shining through.
Barrel-Aged Blanc de Blancs 2017 - Two thirds of this was aged in old oak for 6 months, which gave it a depth and intense complexity. Notes of blue cheese (in a great way!) peony flowers, stone fruit.
Bacchus 2022 - Everything you want from a Bacchus, fresh, English garden & citrus!
Boundary Block 2020- This one surprised me as I'm not usually a massive English red fan, and have never had an English Merlot! 2 years in barrel, notes of fig, Christmas cakes, cherry, rhubarb. Juicy red fruits and super smooth tannins.
Kevin then provided THE most comprehensive tour of the winery; tasting all the wines currently fermenting, learning how all the machines worked and a very special surprise I felt incredibly honoured to be part of; writing tasting notes for their new sparkling Merlot. (I definitely teared up after I was told this!)
Again, so incredible to hear the winemaker themselves talk through the processes, experiments and creations! It's such a personal and huge part of their lives watching 'their babies' develop.
It was fascinating tasting so many different stages of fermentation and looking at the vibrant colours! Quite mad how amazing the juice can taste- and this is before it's even turned into our favourite drink of all- WINE!
Kevin then surprised me by disgorging their new vintage of Sparkling Merlot for the first time to see how it was progressing and to write the tasting notes together! It felt like a very special moment and I was so happy to be part of it. It was a b-e-a-utiful wine and again, such a nod to Kevin's unique ways that work so well.
Finally, STOMPING GRAPES!! This has been on my bucket list for years and it was totally worth the wait!
We harvested some Chardonnay with Myla 🐶 and then get stuck in to stomping!
It was harder than I thought it would be, as once all that juice is swishing about it's hard to get the pressure on the remaining unsquished grapes!
Tasted delicious, not a hint of cheese, and if Bluebell do this again next year, highly recommend getting yourself there for the day!
Looking forward to tasting the finished product 👏🏼
Thanks to Kevin and his lovely team for such a wonderful day. 🥂
See reels for visuals of the day!