Last night we welcomed Hugo Corney and Lisa Harvey from Court Garden Winery and Vineyard to the Royal Over-Seas League. Court Garden were introduced to the club by Davys Wine Merchants and their wines will slowly be introduced to our everyday menu. To properly introduce the wines, we organised for Hugo – who owns the vineyard – to come and talk members through the history of this East Sussex vineyard and what goes in to making the wines.
To start with, members tried Court Gardens signature Classic Cuvée sparkling wine. “The Classic was the first wine to be produced by the vineyard and so has a special place in my heart,” Hugo tells members as they take a sip. With undertones of lime-leaf, pineapple and greengage fruit it left a surprisingly refreshing and pleasing taste.
Next was the sparkling Rosé, has won several awards including silver Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships in 2014. Hugo asked members to note the very subtle red fruit taste in comparison to the previous one and its more savoury taste. He then went on to explain how the vineyard knew how to spot a good grape from the tannin quality, to the ripeness – which doesn’t necessarily mean winemakers pick grapes when they would be ripe to eat, but perhaps a little green in order to get a more unique flavour.
Over the last sparkling wine – the Blanc de Blancs, which was a lot sweeter – Hugo told members about how his family set up the vineyard in a little East Sussex village despite the stigma against English wines. The farm the vineyard now sits on has a long history of farming, in particular with sheep, and appears on one of the earliest maps of Sussex dated to the 18th century. Hugo explained that Sussex actually shares similar geology to north-east France, which is perfect for the production of sparkling wine.
Despite starting off as a dedicated sparkling wine vineyard, Hugo and his family have begun exploring still white and rosé wines, which members now got to taste.
Starting with the Ditchling White, which is a delicious blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Ortega, Hugo explained the process wine goes through once it stops looking like a grape. This wine in particular was fermented in French oak barrels, which added a very delicate hint of vanilla to the dry wine. The rosé on the other hand, was fermented in a blend of barrel with Pinot Nori and Rondo.
Hugo entertained members with a lot of funny stories about his time working in the vineyard, from fond traditions such as a pickers picnic, to his problem with a fowl flock of ducks who persistently ate his prized grapes.
At the end of the evening, members were divided on their favourite wine and stayed until the sunlight began to dwindle, re-tasting their favourites and ordering several crates.
We would like to thank both Davys and Lisa and Hugo for the lovely evening, and we cannot wait to see their wines on our menu soon.