Denbies Wine Estate
“Denbies is a very good example of a vineyard with its very own terroir. Its chalk soils, warm and dry climate enables Denbies to produce a range of wines of exceptional quality and style.”
Denbies Wine Estate, England’s largest vineyard, is situated on the outskirts of Dorking in the heart of the Surrey Hills. The vineyard was planted in 1986, with 265 acres of vines, and commands an impressive location overlooking Box Hill.
The Estate is family owned and run by the White family. Christopher White, Denbies General Manager, has been running the estate for over 15 years after graduating from Bournemouth University with BSc (Hon). His background has given him a solid understanding of viticulture and also a vast range of hospitality experience. Chris has led the development of the vineyard and visitor centre with the diversification of the estate being its strength. The business has grown substantially in the past 10 years, now employing over 150 staff.
The vineyard was planted in 1986, and since then Denbies has grown to become one of the largest vineyards in the UK.
The site was originally selected predominantly for the geology and soil type, as it is very similar to that found in the Champagne region. Over the years however, the character of the site has grown into something unique. There are pockets of different microclimates and soil types within the vineyard, and this is evident in the wines. Denbies is a very good example of a vineyard with its very own terroir. Its chalk soils, warm and dry climate enables Denbies to produce a range of wines of exceptional quality and style.
Denbies produces award winning excellent cool climate sparkling wines using the traditional grape varieties, grown up on chalky soil, it has also an excellent reputation for producing award winning premium still wines. In 2011 Denbies was awarded an IWC Gold ‘Best Rosé in the world’ for its Chalk Ridge Rosé 2010. I am not a huge fan of Rosé but having ‘accidentally’ consumed a bottle of it last night, it really is sensational. In 2013 Denbies achieved a first multiple gold award for its Noble Harvest Dessert wine 2011, an unprecedented achievement for an English dessert wine. The winery also produces first class still wines from the noble varieties, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and now Sauvignon Blanc. This is a combination of warmer growing seasons producing riper fruit, and a great deal of expertise in the winemaking process. The 2014 Pinot Gris is currently showing some wonderfully complex flavours, as is the Sauvignon Blanc and the Bacchus.
Denbies is one of the major visitor attractions in Surrey attracting over 350,000 visitors per year and one of the largest vineyards in northern Europe and currently has a range of 14 wines and produces over 450,000 bottles of wine per annum. In addition to the tours, there are facilities for conferences, private functions and weddings, a cheese and wine experience and The Gallery Restaurant that, surprisingly, has a rather good wine list.
Written by Jonny Gibson, Owner and Head Tutor at Sussex Wine School
Sussex Wine School runs regular wine tastings and courses including WSET courses at Hotel du Vin Brighton.
Find out more at www.sussexwineschool.com
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