Blanc de Noirs 'Extra Brut' Explained
a new take on our blanc de noirs…
We are very excited to announce the newest addition to our Library Collection. The Wiston Estate Library Collection presents a series of limited-edition releases from our cellar which celebrate the unique wines we are able to make here in the South Downs. Since the release of our very first wine—a Cuvée from the 2008 vintage—we have held back small parcels from the best vintages to further mature and develop. This is a series of unique wines which show the potential for quality and age-ability that English Sparkling Wine can achieve. The Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut 2014 is the second release.
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
This version of our single vineyard wine from 2014 shows elegant characteristics of marzipan, baked apples and a touch of white pepper on the nose. The poised palate consists of rich buttery notes, apricot and vanilla, with a flash of salinity on the bright finish. This is a pure wine which moves across the palate with commanding grace.
This is a unique expression of our Blanc de Noirs 2014 – showing a different slant on this stunning vintage. The winemaking team disgorged this small Library Collection parcel with a very low dosage, making it ‘Extra Brut’, and the result is fascinating and delicious! With the new release of our latest library collection wine, we caught up with our winemakers, Marcus and Megan Rayner-Ward to get a deeper dive into this special wine.
WHAT DOES EXTRA BRUT MEAN?
When we first disgorged our Blanc de Noirs 2014 back in December 2020, the winemaking team decided to treat a small parcel of it a little differently to the rest. Meg goes on to explain “This wine has a very low dosage – anywhere between 0 and 6 grams per litre is low, this wine is 2 grams per litre. Our normal dosage is between 6-8, so with this ‘Extra Brut’ labelling, it’s one step above ‘Zero Dosage’ and much lower than the wines we’ve made previously. This is completely new for us.” For those who don’t know, dosage is the sugar that’s added to the wine during the disgorgement process. “After the wine has gone through it’s second fermentation it will be completely dry, there’s no sugar left. This is when you can add sugar back in – to balance the acidity.” Marcus explains: “By removing the sugar from the wine, you get a truer expression of the terroir of Wiston Estate’s Findon Park Vineyard and the growing season of 2014. To get the correct dose, we trial the wine at a range of concentrations, starting with zero dosage and working our way up. This wine expressed extraordinary complexity and texture at 2g/L, which is how we came about this special release.”
WHAT DOES IT DO TO THE FLAVOUR?
This wine is a great example of how the dosage can impact the aromas, flavours, texture, body and overall style of a wine. Marcus and Meg explain: “We found it really came out as more savoury in the textual element. With the regular Blanc de Noirs – it’s quite rich and sumptuous – it’s opulent and cakey. We always talk about wine as texture, a higher dose of sugar softens the edges slightly – promoting those richer flavours. Whereas the lower the dosage, the less you cover up those wonderful mineral textual notes. We found it had more of a savoury edge in comparison to the one with 6g/L. It really highlights the English acidity which we really love as winemakers. It’s exciting to come across a wine that we could achieve this with.”
GENERAL THOUGHTS ON THIS NEW RELEASE?
Marcus: “It’s really fascinating actually – I would thoroughly encourage people to buy a bottle of each – being the Blanc de Noirs 2014 at 6g/L and the one with Extra Brut – and taste them side by side. Our perception of sugar and how it interacts with our senses fascinates me. Such small incremental additions of sugar can make such a profounnd difference. There’s a 4ml variance per bottle between the Blanc de Noir and the Blanc de Noir Extra Brut, and it’s amazing the effect it has on the flavour, your mouth feel and the perception of your senses.” Meg continues: “I also see this wine making a great alternative to something like Fino sherry as it has the same fresh, saline characters.”
With this being Wiston’s second library collection release, it’s important to note why this wine is so special. “We disgorged it when we initially disgorged the Blanc de Noirs 2014, making the majority of these bottles 6 grams per litre dosage, but there’s only around 400 bottles of this 2g/L batch. We also kept it on cork for two and half years, which has also really helped encourage those savoury characteristics and ages the Pinot. That’s why this wine is so special.”
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