2018 Ancre Hill Estates, Pinot Noir, Monmouthshire, Wales
6 in stock
Roving Sommelier loves premium quality regional wines from around the world. Even better when these expressive wines are made with love and care and by an amazing family based in Monmouthshire, South Wales. For me, Ancre Hill Estates is a wonderful home-grown vineyard that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed.
In addition, Ancre Hill Estates are based in Monmouthshire in South Wales, just a couple of miles from us. So, it’s great to keep things local and support a fantastic family-owned and award-winning Welsh vineyard. We’re so pleased to be listing a couple of their wines and give you the opportunity to try them for yourselves.
Owned by Richard and Joy Morris, Ancre Hill Estates comprises two vineyard sites on the edge of Monmouth, south-east Wales with some 30,000 vines planted on approximately 12-hectares (29.5 acres) and a state-of-the-art, modern winery. The business has evolved from the first plantings in 2006 and 2007 at Ancre Hill, which now extends to about 4 hectares of mature vines to include Newton Court Farm, purchased in 2014, the same year as the new winery was built at Ancre Hill, where a further 8 hectares of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay has been planted.
All the land was former grazing pasture – never used for agriculture and the soils are healthy and well-nourished. Ancre Hill apply a holistic approach to all activities in vineyard and winery, and practise conscientious biodynamics. The preps are stirred by hand, in rainwater and sprayed strictly under the correct conditions. Only with this level of detail and personal involvement can biodynamic practices allow the vines to find the balance of life forces necessary for healthy growth and quality of production. The use of sulphur is kept to a minimum with the addition of wild plant tisanes made on the estate. Raw milk is used as a vine treatment, as it contains antiseptic properties and enzymes that act as fungal control and give foliar nutrition to the plant. Insecticides, pesticides and herbicides are not used at all, with weeds ploughed out from under the vines. A programme of cultivation provides the soil with aeration necessary for the development of a healthy micro-organism population, negating the need for petrochemical fertilisers. Co-plantation and the promotion of wild flora and fauna help maintain the balance of the eco-system and soils. The vineyards look in great condition with the vines showing the virtue of a reasoned and progressive farming techniques.
The remarkable winery building, opened by The Duchess of Cornwall in July 2015, is an extension of the philosophy in the vineyard. Natural materials have been used over synthetic ones wherever possible with the walls constructed from straw bales and a living, green roof, both providing temperature and humidity regulation. Wastewater is treated by a series of ecological pools and plantings which also provide many of the plants used in the tisane treatments in the vineyard. The building has an exceptional thermal performance with internal temperatures operating in an approximate 8 degrees centigrade range whatever the external temperature.
The style of wine at Ancre Hill Estates continues to evolve, with small batch fermentations occurring almost entirely in oak barrels and concrete eggs. There are also a number of squat concrete fermenters, named after the seven dwarves. Fermentations are solely carried out by wild yeasts and bacteria, with the avoidance of filtration and fining for the finished wines wherever possible.
The wines, as with the grapes, are fully Demeter certified, adhering to the strictest production criteria. Working in this way not only creates better wines qualitatively, but wines of greater integrity and sustainability. As with many natural wines, lengthy ‘cuvaison’ and ageing on the lees, contributes to the texture and age-worthiness of the wines.
Whole bunch maceration for 50-days characterises the ebulliently fruit of Ancre Hill’s 2018 Pinot Noir. Fermentation finished in oak and stainless for 10 months further ageing on the ‘gross lees’, which adds a lovely, elegant texture. Light but intense – fragrant strawberry and cherries merge with liquorice and sweet spice. On first encounter, the wine reminds one of a Gamay from Central France. As it develops it morphs into something more akin to a Crozes-Hermitage with discernible notes of black olives and herbs. This fragrant and juicy Pinot would work with charcuterie, and, of course, lamb any which way, and perhaps even lightly chilled in summer. Best enjoyed in a convivial atmosphere.
Alcohol: 10% abv (75cl)
Grape variety: Pinot Noir
Flavour Profile: Crisp, Dry, Delicate, Fresh, Elegant, Medium-bodied, Red Fruits, Fragrant, Floral, Savoury, Spice, Good acidity.