England - superb sparkling and definitely not standing ‘still’

We’ve long championed the wines of England: over recent years we’ve featured outstanding producers that we think demonstrate the potential of the best of British produce. And now we’re thrilled to add to this range of wines, demonstrating the current excitement around the region.

England, in the words of Oz Clarke, is “The Newest New World Wine Nation”. It’s home to serious vineyards and wineries, producing serious wines. Spending time visiting the South Downs, it’s obvious what makes this a brilliant place for growing grapes. The pure chalk soils are not only free-draining, but reflect the sun’s heat back onto the grapes, while south-facing slopes feel almost mediterranean in the summer sun. Comparisons with Champagne might seem clichéd, but it’s no coincidence that we’re seeing more and more investment from the Grandes Marques in the vineyards of southern England.

We are also excited to introduce our first English still wines to the Lay & Wheeler portfolio, from Flint Vineyard in Norfolk, renowned for its dry climate and long sunshine hours, helping produce ideal grape-growing conditions for still wines.

And then there’s the people. They are genuine trailblazers, pushing English wine to new heights. Examples include Nyetimber’s Cherie Spriggs, who is widely recognised as one of the finest sparkling winemakers in the world. Meanwhile, at Hambledon, Rathfinny and Flint, owners Ian Kellet, Mark Driver and Ben Witchell respectively, all studied winemaking at Plumpton College, such is their passion and commitment to their projects.

This offer includes wines that have caught our eye and showcase the variety that England has to offer. Many are available only in small quantities, particularly those in large formats. We invite you to discover this truly exciting wine region.

Flint Vineyard

Ben Witchell’s interest in wine quickly developed into an obsession and eventual lifelong passion, leading him to quit his job in IT and enrol in the three year Oenology and Viticulture degree at Plumpton College. After graduating in 2012 with a first class degree and winning awards for ‘Top Winemaking Student’ and ‘Best Research Project’, Ben moved to Beaujolais, securing his first winemaking post. It was here that Ben learnt a more intuitive and creative side to winemaking, citing it as the greatest inspiration for his wines today. Now based in the sunny and sheltered Waveney Valley in South Norfolk, Flint Vineyard (named after its free-draining flint and gravel soils) produces wines from 6 hectares of vines, using a combination of innovation and respect for tradition. The focus is on high-quality, low volume still wines, using the best fruit possible. Ben and Flint Vineyard are driving the movement for serious and ever more exciting English still wines.

 

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2022 Pinot Noir Précoce, Flint Vineyard, Norfolk Dry | Red | Still | 12%

Flint Vineyard’s 2022 Pinot Noir Précoce, is made from an early-ripening clone of Pinot Noir that was hand harvested in September and October from their own small parcel and from Martin’s Lane vineyard in Essex. A dry and hot summer provided small bunches with more tannin and flavour concentration than usual. Fifty percent whole-bunch is used here, leading to a light, crunchy and aromatic style – a baby Burgundy if you will, full of rich, cherry aromas. The palate is wonderfully textured, with smooth, fine-grained tannins, packed with gorgeous blackcurrant and cherry fruit and a hint of sweet spice.

Ready: 2023 - 2028
2022 Bacchus, Flint Vineyard, Norfolk Dry | White | Still | 11%

Flint Vineyard's 2022 Bacchus has explosive aromatics of sherbet lemon, elderflower and rose petal. The hot and dry summer resulted in smaller yields, but one with incredible concentration. Picked from multiple parcels of Bacchus from their own vineyards and Martin’s Lane in Essex. Each plot was vinified separately in stainless steel at different temperatures and using different yeast strains, with no malolactic fermentation, to preserve the freshness and energy of the wine and keep the harmony of the blend. Wondrous and bright on the palate, with notes of zingy pineapple and a pleasing salinity lingering on the finish.

Ready: 2023 - 2026
2022 Bacchus Fumé, Flint Vineyard, Norfolk Dry | White | Still | 11%

With only 3,000 bottles made, this brilliantly individual, barrel-aged expression of Bacchus is a rare find. Made using later press fractions to extract more tannin and flavour, Flint ferment and age the wine in 3rd and 4th fill oak barrels for 6 months, with weekly bâtonnage (lees stirring) on half of the wine. Their use of barrels encourages aromatic development and softness rather than oak flavour. The result is pithy lime, almond, elderflower and cut grass aromatics that continue on the wonderfully textural, creamy palate. Flint Vineyards assure it will age well too, with honeyed, petrol-like characters developing over the next 3 to 5 years. One not to miss!

Ready: 2023 - 2028
2022 Silex Blanc, Flint Vineyard, Norfolk Dry | White | Still | 12%

The Silex Blanc demonstrates Ben’s desire to produce a wine that is different to the typical English style. In 2022 the blend comprises Pinot Noir (50%), Pinot Blanc (40%) and Chardonnay (10%), varieties that were previously considered difficult to grow and ripen in the UK’s climate. But modern approaches and knowledge have shown that excellent, high-quality wines can be made and Silex has attracted a reputation for being one of these. The grapes were gently whole bunch pressed, with only the finest portion of juice used, resulting in a very refined fruit expression. The juice was then fermented in old oak barrels sourced from a winemaker friend of Ben in Burgundy, going through full malolactic fermentation to lend softness. It was then matured for 9 months, a third each in amphorae, stainless steel and 3 year old oak. This is a brilliant English dry white with beautiful elegance, balance and complexity. Bright and vibrant on the nose with apricot, lemon peel and honeysuckle notes. The palate has a racy, slightly tropical and stone fruit core, with excellent acidity and texture. Burgundian character with plenty of English charm.

Ready: 2023 - 2028

Nyetimber

Nyetimber is steeped in history. It was first recorded as a settlement in the 11th century's Domesday Book as Nitimbreha. However it wasn't until 1988 that its first vines were planted - nevertheless precocious for the English wine industry. In 2006, Eric Heerema purchased the estate, and his investment has been a gamechanger for this historic property. In 2007, an unprompted letter from Canadians Cherie Spriggs and her husband Brad Greatrix led Eric to appoint her head winemaker, with Brad alongside, a decision that lifted Nyetimber to the very top table. They immediately implemented changes, such as allowing all the wines to go through malolactic fermentation. This has resulted in a house style which impresses with its roundness and creaminess, while preserving the freshness you’d expect from England’s finest. In 2018 Cherie’s efforts were recognised when she was named Sparkling Winemaker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge, the first such accolade for someone making English wine. Nyetimber owns vineyards across nine separate sites stretching along the green sandstone and chalk hills of the South East of England, from Kent to Hampshire, and all the wines come entirely from estate grown fruit.

 

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N/V Classic Cuvée, Nyetimber, England (2019 Base Vintage) Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The Classic Cuvée is a multi-vintage blend, coming from the hundreds of hectares of vineyards owned by Nyetimber. This iteration comprises a majority of 2019 base wine but also has a considerable percentage of reserve wines in the blend (dating back to 2007). It’s a brilliant introduction to the range. Creamy and fruit forward, there’s lovely structure, with a long and chalky finish.

Ready: 2023 - 2026
N/V Classic Cuvée, Nyetimber, England (2019 Base Vintage) Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The Classic Cuvée is a multi-vintage blend, coming from the hundreds of hectares of vineyards owned by Nyetimber. This iteration comprises a majority of 2019 base wine but also has a considerable percentage of reserve wines in the blend (dating back to 2007). It’s a brilliant introduction to the range. Creamy and fruit forward, there’s lovely structure, with a long and chalky finish.

Ready: 2023 - 2026
2014 Tillington Single Vineyard, Nyetimber Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The 2014 Tillington is just the fourth vintage of this defining single vineyard wine released by Nyetimber. It is now firmly established as the British Isles’ greatest wine. The site is found in West Sussex, and the vines here thrive in the greensand soils. The nose is shy at first, but very pretty, with a delicate floral note, and with some air, a vinous energy. The palate shows, of course, supreme acidity twinned with creamy texture which holds the orchard and hedgerow fruit notes together in perfect harmony. This is a superb release from Nyetimber, with the greatest ageing potential of any English Sparkling Wine we know.

Ready: 2023 - 2037
2010 1086, Nyetimber, England (Gift Boxed) Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The 1086 is Nyetimber’s prestige cuvée, produced to be the pinnacle of the estate. A careful selection of dozens of separate wines from the 2010 vintage, carefully blended together, it then spent six years on the lees before being disgorged. It’s not cheap, but it’s undoubtedly the most ambitious, and most complex, sparkling wine produced in England today. Notes of biscuit and red fruit, and a very long, focused finish. So impressive.

Ready: 2023 - 2038
2010 1086, Nyetimber, England (Gift Boxed) Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The 1086 is Nyetimber’s prestige cuvée, produced to be the pinnacle of the estate. A careful selection of dozens of separate wines from the 2010 vintage, carefully blended together, it then spent six years on the lees before being disgorged. It’s not cheap, but it’s undoubtedly the most ambitious, and most complex, sparkling wine produced in England today. Notes of biscuit and red fruit, and a very long, focused finish. So impressive.

Ready: 2023 - 2038
2015 Blanc de Blancs, Nyetimber, England Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

Blanc de Blancs was the first style that Nyetimber made, and was a huge success upon its release in 1996. The 2015 has been aged for between 5 and 6 years on the lees, and the result is a deliciously fresh, balanced wine with Chardonnay’s trademark lemony, elegant, toasty character and a richer, fresh pastry note from the ageing. Vineyards for this wine are in both Sussex and Hampshire. This 2015 is decadent, textured and rich with a long, moreish finish. A benchmark Chardonnay from England.

Ready: 2023 - 2031
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M/V Classic Cuvée, Nyetimber, England (2019 Base Vintage) Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The Classic Cuvée is a multi-vintage blend, coming from the hundreds of hectares of vineyards owned by Nyetimber. This iteration comprises a majority of 2019 base wine but also has a considerable percentage of reserve wines in the blend (dating back to 2007). It’s a brilliant introduction to the range. Creamy and fruit forward, there’s lovely structure, with a long and chalky finish.

Ready: 2023 - 2028
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2010 Classic Cuvée, Nyetimber, England Dry | White | Sparkling | 13%

An outstanding Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, and the very last iteration of their vintage designated Classic Cuvée styles before they moved to a Multi-Vintage blend from 2011 onwards. It is also the last to be predominantly Pinot Noir. Toasty and complex aromas showing wonderful development after more than 5 years on lees in the cellar. On the palate a bright acidity is beautifully balanced by notes of honey, almond, pastry and baked apple flavours. Very fine and elegant with a great combination of intensity, delicacy and length. Truly special in this format.

Ready: 2023 - 2027
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2010 Classic Cuvée, Nyetimber, England Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

An outstanding Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, and the very last iteration of their vintage designated Classic Cuvée styles before they moved to a Multi-Vintage blend from 2011 onwards. It is also the last to be predominantly Pinot Noir. Toasty and complex aromas showing wonderful development after more than 5 years on lees in the cellar. On the palate a bright acidity is beautifully balanced by notes of honey, almond, pastry and baked apple flavours. Very fine and elegant with a great combination of intensity, delicacy and length. Truly special in this format.

Ready: 2023 - 2029
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Rathfinny

While we get to travel to many of the world’s most beautiful wine regions, it’s hard to think of a more stunning estate than Rathfinny. It’s situated right in the heart of the South Downs, within sight of the English Channel, just three miles as the crow - or raven - flies from the sea. Mark and Sarah Driver founded Rathfinny in 2010, on a working arable farm just outside the picture-perfect village of Alfriston. They planted their first 50 hectares of vines in 2012, with an end goal of 350 hectares planted on this single site. Mark studied winemaking at Plumpton, making him a hands-on owner, and everything - from the state of the art cellar to the labels that show off Sussex’s famous Seven Sisters, just a few miles down the road - has been very carefully thought out. With plenty of wind blowing across the vineyard, Rathfinny are able to pick later than most, allowing the grapes to reach an impressive level of maturity. That results in wines that balance purity and ripeness of fruit with an incredible freshness.

 

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2018 Rosé Brut, Rathfinny, Sussex Dry | Rosé | Sparkling | 12%

Just the fourth vintage of rosé from Rathfinny, this is the finest example of the style that we’ve tasted from the UK. Pale in colour, there’s notes of Seville oranges and plenty of floral notes. This has structure and vibrancy, and there’s a delicious toasty complexity at play on the palate. Wonderfully balanced, and very long: not to be missed.

Ready: 2023 - 2033
2017 Blanc de Blancs, Rathfinny, Sussex Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The 2017 Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs is a stunning fizz from a remarkably beautiful estate. Striking the perfect balance between juicy and tart, this is packed full of lemony freshness with a lovely creaminess. This is absolutely delicious today, but will also age wonderfully. Don’t miss it.

Ready: 2023 - 2032
2017 Classic Cuvée, Rathfinny, Sussex Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

Owner Mark is a huge believer in the power of Pinot Noir-led sparklings, grown on the pure chalk of the Rathfinny farm. So their Classic Cuvée is Pinot Noir-led, and spends 36 months on the lees. Rathfinny only produce vintage wines, and the 2017 is crisp and fruit forward, with just 5g/l of dosage, and a long, chalky, delicious finish.

Ready: 2023 - 2035
2018 Classic Cuvée Brut, Rathfinny, Sussex Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The 2018 Rathfinny Classic Cuvée is a stunning fizz from a remarkably beautiful estate. There’s a richness on the nose that comes from the perfect growing season: ripe citrus and a hint of redcurrants, while the palate is tense, chalky, and impeccably balanced. This is beautifully delicious today, but will also age wonderfully.

Ready: 2023 - 2033
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2018 Blanc de Noirs, Rathfinny, Sussex Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

Rathfinny Estate Blanc de Noirs 2018 is a blend of 85% Pinot Noir and 15% Pinot Meunier grapes, hand-harvested from their beautiful estate in East Sussex. This is the fourth vintage of this premium blend and has aged on the lees for 36 months. Floral peony notes on the nose marry with wild strawberries followed by a palate raspberry, red apple and toasted almonds. Wonderfully balanced, and very long: not to be missed.

Ready: 2023 - 2032
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Everflyht

The English wine world is a fast moving one, with new vineyards offering exciting wines, emerging up and down the country all the time. One of the most recent to be established in East Sussex is Everflyht, a small family-run wine estate set at the foot of Ditchling Beacon. The single vineyard estate was established by owners Sam and Ben Ellis, who bought it in 2015, inspired by family travels, as well as their fervent passion for sparkling wines. Led by vineyard manager Luke Spalding (formerly of Ridgeview), the Ellis family began planting 6.8 hectares of vines in 2016, including the traditional English sparkling wine varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They also set aside 3.5 hectares of land for biodiversity - planting over 400 trees, 800m of hedgerow and integrating wild flower meadows. Everflyht is supported by the expertise of the team at Hambledon in making their wines.

Sam and Ben explain the inspiration behind the name ‘Everflyht’ as being based on the six Martlets of the Sussex crest, symbolising knowledge, adventure, and learning - much like their journey into English Sparkling Wine. Said to never land, these birds are ‘ever in flight’. These six Martlets make up the Everflyht feather on their labels, a symbol of Everflyht’s adventures and innovation in wine and ‘to never settle’.

 

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N/V Brut, Everflyht, Sussex Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

The Everflyht Brut N/V reflects the current estates planting which combines Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in equal measure with a touch of Meunier. Hand-picked from the single estate vineyard and created in a low intervention method using steel, new and old oak to bring the best from each variety and block. Aged for 20 months on the lees, with around 24% reserve wines going into the blend, and just 6 g/l dosage added, this is a fresh yet generous English fizz, with lots of green and red apple fruit, and a long and elegant finish: the perfect way to discover Everflyht.

Ready: 2023 - 2026
2019 Rosé de Saignée, Everflyht, Sussex Dry | Rosé | Sparkling | 12.5%

The first single estate sparkling wine to be produced at Everflyht, the Rosé de Saignée 2019 is a blend of hand-picked Pinot Noir and Meunier. The Saignée method of rosé production is more complicated than adding red wine into the blend. Instead it extracts colour from a short period of skin contact, in this instance, just 12 hours was enough to get the colour and richness of fruit. It is packed full of summer fruits and a wonderful creamy and fresh brioche note on the nose. The palate is fruit driven with notes of ripe red cherry, sweet wild strawberry and a soft backbone of cream. A light acidity is balanced with a rounded mouthfeel that gives the wine weight and an elegant finish. Fantastic food wine, that you shouldn't be afraid to decant.

Ready: 2023 - 2030

Hambledon

Founded in 1952, by Major-General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones, Hambledon is England’s oldest commercial vineyard, with wines even served to French president Jacques Pompidou during an embassy reception in the 1970s. But it was with the arrival of Ian Kellett in 1999 that the story really began. Ian was already a wine lover, with a successful career in banking under his belt - his interest piqued by the winemaking history of the estate, he studied oenology at Plumpton College, aiming to restore Hambledon to its former glory. He was convinced that sparkling was the future, and in 2005 he planted his first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, to test different clones and rootstocks. In 2011, having expanded the plantation with guidance from Hubert de Billy of Pol Roger, he appointed Hervé Jestin, a renowned chef de cave from Champagne, to direct all winemaking. Hambledon has England’s only entirely gravity-fed cellar, which transforms grapes with minimal intervention, grown on the estate’s Newhaven chalk soils - the same soils that are found in Champagne’s Côte des Blancs. With expansion plans on the way, and bolstered by its recent acquisition by a consortium of historic wine families, Hambledon’s future is very bright.

 

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N/V Classic Cuvée, Hambledon, Hampshire (2016 Base Vintage) Dry | White | Sparkling | 12%

Chardonnay-led, with around 20% reserve wines in the blend, it’s got just 4.5g/l of dosage added. This is a taut English fizz, with lots of green apple fruit, and a long and savoury finish: the perfect way to discover Hambledon.

Ready: 2023 - 2026