These are some new releases from Chapel Down, one of the UK’s largest wineries. Chapel Down make very good sparkling and still wines, and they fulfil an important function: they are big enough to supply supermarkets and chains, but they produce quality wines that are well made and accessible. But they are also ambitious, and they’ve just released three high end wines from their Kit’s Coty vineyard, including a wine that is currently the UK’s most expensive, topping Nyetimber’s Tillington by another £20. The Kit’s Coty vineyard consists of 95 acres (38 hectares) of vines planted on chalky soils in the North Downs of Kent. The wines are made by Josh Donaghay-Spire, who has done a really good job. Is the Couer de Cuvée worth £100? That’s a hard question to answer, but it’s good to see English producers with the courage and confidence to make high-end wines and price them accordingly. Ultimately, the market will decide whether or not the pricing has gone too far.
Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvée 2013 England
12% alcohol. This is produced from only the very best blocks of Chardonnay within the Kit’s Coty estate, and is made from the first 200 litres/ton of the pressing of these grapes: the heart of the cuvée referred to in the name. Base wine is wild-fermented and matured on lees in French oak for seven months, and dosage is 6 g/litre. 1600 bottles made. The nose has some nuttiness and a bit of toast, as well as rich lemon and pear fruit. The palate is intense and focused with some honeyed, nutty oak character and a core of lemony fruit, with really well integrated acidity. Rich, intense and powerful, with nice freshness, but also some dried apple oxidative notes in the background. This needs some time to come together, but it’s pretty impressive in this youthful incarnation. 91/100 (UK retail £99)
Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Blanc de Blancs 2013 England
12% alcohol. Dosage 9 g/litre. Undergoes malolactic fermentation and 20% of the blend is matured in barrel. This is really attractive, with lovely citrus fruit with some pear richness, as well as a bit of chalky, pithy texture. There’s a hint of red apple, and a lovely rounded fruit-driven core to the wine. This has some richness, it has a brightness, and the high acidity is really well integrated and balanced by a touch of sweetness from the dosage (which is a touch on the high side). Very classy winemaking here. 91/100 (UK retail £39.99)
Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2014 England
12% alcohol. Wild-ferment Chardonnay matured in old French oak for nine months. Restrained and subtle, but with good concentration. Lovely citrus and pear fruit with a bit of spicy oak in the background. Lingering lemony freshness with some stony minerality and lovely acid structure. This is quite Chablis-like, and it’s really convincing. I’m not a big fan of English still wines, but this is one of the very best I’ve had. 90/100 (UK retail £29.99)
These wines are available from Chapel Down directly, and high-end on-trade.