Blanc de Noirs or Blanc de Blancs?

Wiston Estate English Sparkling Wine, Pinot Noir grapes at harvest

which do you prefer?

We love our ‘Blanc de Noirs’ here at Wiston – the vintage wine which we only make in years when the harvest conditions create the right results in the vineyards. But what does it actually mean? In very simple terms it is borrowed from Champagne terminology, and it means ‘white from black’ – which means… ‘a white wine made from black grapes’.

traditional methods

The majority of grapes used to make traditional method sparkling wine in both Champagne and the UK are black grapes – Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They are hand-harvested so that the grape skins arrive at the winery un-damaged. Then they are pressed very gently, which releases the clear juice inside – so they do not take on any colour from the grape skins. Hence – white wine from black grapes. Our Cuvée Brut and Brut NV are both examples of our white wines which contain large portions of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – blended with some Chardonnay.

Our Blanc de Noirs (current vintage is 2014) is made from just Pinot Noir (66%) and Pinot Meunier (34%). It is a delicious example of this style – winning the WineGB Blanc de Noirs Trophy in 2022. Aromas of lemon cake and hazelnuts nuts on the nose, with a weighty texture on the with notes of rhubarb, dried orange and baked greengage. A sumptuous treat – one to open with not too many others around, if you know what we mean!

Wiston Estate English Sparkling Wine, made in West Sussex. Blanc de Noir 2014
Wiston Estate English Sparkling Wine, made in West Sussex. Blanc de Blancs NV

TASTE THE difference

A Blanc de Blancs wine is the opposite – a white wine from only white grapes – which in our case (and again that of Champagne) will mean it is 100% Chardonnay. For some connoisseurs, Blanc de Blancs sparkling wines are the most sublime examples of this grape. Using 100% Chardonnay creates a wine with specific flavours, aromas, textures and longevity.

We have a selection of Blanc de Blancs in our stable… our Non-Vintage Blanc de Blancs – one of very few actually made in the UK, our vintage 2018 and our Library Collection 2010.

Wiston Estate English Sparkling Wine, made in West Sussex. Blanc de Blancs 2018 Vintage

how do we differ between these delicious gems?

The Blanc de Blancs NV – this is our ‘everyday’ Blanc de Blancs. OK maybe we don’t open a bottle Every Day – but it is a great crowd pleaser – a mouthwatering aperitif which goes beautifully with seafood – especially fish and chips. Best drunk on the beach or a sunny seaside terrace. It has aromas of green apple, grapefruit and lemon zest, alongside a palate of pear tart, a hint of hazelnut and pastry. Smooth delicate bubbles and racy freshness.

The current Estate Blanc de Blancs vintage release – 2018 – this is a refined creature, with more elegance and intensity than the NV, and a lot of ageing potential here. Old barrels are used in fermentation which give the wine a texture and roundness on the palate, making it a richer experience. Perhaps one to savour for a special moment – by itself or matched with juicy king prawns or a plate of Sussex cheeses. Intense notes of nougat and baked apple tart on the nose, with a hint of toasted almonds. The palate is rich and intense, with mouthwatering freshness and a long finish

the library collection

The Library Collection Blanc de Blancs 2010 – one for the real connoisseurs. Our Library Collection is a selection of wines which we have kept back for extended ageing in our cellars – or very small and special parcels. This is a stunning Blanc de Blancs – aged for 8 years on lees in our cellars, and a further five years age on cork – yet it tastes beautifully fresh and lively. We’ll let someone who knows her stuff describe it for us…

“97 points from Decanter Magazine (Oct 2023) – A limited-edition release from the excellent 2010 vintage, this is a wonderful example of how beautifully English blanc de blancs can age. Savoury, mushroom and spice aromas with notes of digestive biscuit and truffle. Generous and long, with bracing acidity but plenty of rich, savoury flavour. Drinking beautifully now but with the ability to mature further.” Susie Barrie MW.

Wiston Estate English Sparkling Wine, made in West Sussex. Blanc de Blancs Library Collection 2010

Still not sure which you fancy? Book at Tour to come and have a taste and decide for yourself.

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