Puligny Montrachet, 1er Cru Champ Gain, Pascal Marchand
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Grape VarietyPinot Blanc
StyleAromatic & Zesty
‘Made with precision and passion in Sussex’ is the apt motto of Simon Woodhead’s exciting new project, Stopham Estate, based near Pulborough in West Sussex. In the small winery, housed in a converted barn on the estate that he leases from owners the Barttelot family, Simon produces a Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris that are the best still wines we have tasted from England. Both closed with Stelvin, they have the purity and fruit intensity that is reminiscent of New Zealand, with the freshness and zip of the finest Loire. The fruit character, however, is pure English, with aromas of white flowers and hedgerow, flavours of orchard fruits and a refreshing 10.5-11% alcohol. Having begun his career as an engineer, designing parts for Formula One racing cars, Simon embarked on his winemaking adventure in 2007, when he planted six hectares of predominantly Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc vines at Stopham Estate. Stopham is known locally for its ancient buildings that were recorded in the Domesday Book, as well as the swans that swim the River Arun, the banks of which form the lower boundary to the vineyards. In the vineyard, the main challenges that Simon faces are the deer that roam the parkland (meaning Simon’s first job was to fence the vineyard to protect the vines from damage) and, unsurprisingly, the weather. Simon practises sustainable farming, which is helped by the south facing vineyards (that maximise sun exposure and ripening) and the proximity of the Stopham farm animals, which provide copious amounts of organic fertiliser to boost the sandy soils!
Stopham Estate‘s Pinot Blanc is a lovely pale lemon colour in the glass with fresh perfumes of pear. On the palate, pink grapefruit, melon and sweet fennel combine with a zippy acidity. Well balanced, the wine has a succulent sweetness which lasts well into the lengthy finish.
2013 Vintage: Sommelier Wine Awards 2015, Silver Medal