A discovery – at least for me, if not for people in the Cotswolds. I don’t think of Gloucestershire when I’m thinking about English vineyards, but Woodchester Valley has been going since 2007 when Fiona Shiner planted her first acre of vines in the south Cotswolds. She now has 23.5 ha (58 acres) and three vineyards, one of which is on a site listed as having a vineyard in the Domesday book. Since 2016 she’s also had her own winery and a winemaker, Jeremy Mount.
I have only tasted this one wine, the Reserve Cuvée, but have no hesitation in saying Woodchester Valley is a winery to watch. It hasn’t gone unnoticed in competitions: the Sauvignon Blanc has been winning awards since the first vintage in 2017 and most recently the 2021 was one of only two wines to win a Master medal in The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters (the other was a more expensive New Zealand wine); the Pinot Gris 2022 won a gold medal in the Global Pinot Gris Masters; and the sparkling Rosé Brut won a gold medal in this year’s WineGB Awards.
I haven’t yet visited the estate, but it looks very tempting. You can visit the vineyard for tours and tastings or just to drop into the Cellar Door Shop and you can stay at the vineyard, too: in one of three vineyard barns that sleep two people; in a two-bedroom farmhouse; or in the large Woodchester Valley House (sleeps up to 12).
Woodchester Valley Reserve Cuvée Brut, £30.75
This is a classic Champagne blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier (54%, 38%, 8%), from the Shiner’s own three vineyards, Stonehouse, Woodchester and Amberley, on limestone soils. It was aged on lees for 30 months and was disgorged in June, with a dosage of 7.5g/l.
It has rich, candied lemon and orange fruit, toasted-brioche depth, a hint of honeyed almond and a long, refreshing finish. A lovely, elegant balance between the richness of age and youthful zing.
It’s been a discovery for me and it’s a preview for those coming to my tasting and wine pairing with game charcuterie and artisan cheeses at Badminton Estate on Saturday 28 October. This is the wine I’ve chosen as our welcome aperitif.