Gravel Castle Chardonnay 2020
Simpsons Wine Estate
Region: Kent

Tasting Notes

Classic unoaked Chard notes of apple, pear and stone fruits on the nose, along with a hint of more tropical elements. The palate has more of the stone fruits, particularly nectarine and apricot, along with some more steely elements and a touch of citrus. There is nervy acidity, but it isn’t thin or linear. Do not over chill, you don’t want to mute the fruit. Enjoy with roast chicken, grilled swordfish or sip as an aperitif.

Chardonnay is the world’s most famous white-wine grape and also one of the most widely-planted, with the most highly-regarded expressions of the variety coming from Burgundy and California. Climate plays a major role in dictating which fruit flavours a Chardonnay will have. Broadly speaking, warm regions such as California tend to give more tropical styles. While many Chardonnays have high aromatic complexity, this is usually due to winemaking techniques (particularly the use of oak) rather than the variety’s intrinsic qualities. Malolactic fermentation gives distinctive buttery aromas. Fermentation and/or maturation in oak barrels contributes notes of vanilla, smoke and hints of sweet spices such as clove and cinnamon. Extended lees contact while in barrel imparts biscuity, doughy flavours.

Elham Valley is an unspoilt seam in the North Downs of the County of Kent, where the contours of the land, the climate and the soil could scarcely be improved upon for viticulture. The intensely lime-rich chalk soil forms part of the same chalk ridge that stretches from southern England to the French Champagne region and on to Burgundy. The English climate may be marginal for viticulture but its relative austerity—where expertly handled—and long, cool ripening period is ideally suited to creating still and sparkling wines with pure variety flavours, elegant acidity and subtly sophisticated aromas.

Simpsons Wine Estate is located in one of the sunniest corners of the British Isles. Proprietors Charles and Ruth have further safeguarded their vines against extremes in climate by selecting sloping vineyards that face almost due south, ensuring heat accumulation in the day, and excellent cold air drainage at night. The maritime influence is also crucial to the success of these vines. The property is less than eight miles from the coast on three sides, which helps insulate the fruit against intense variations in temperature. Roman Road Vineyard was the original Estate Vineyard, so named for the road the Romans marched upon in their first invasion of England in 43 AD, bringing along vines with them. Railway Hill was planted in 2016 for another 20 hectares of south facing vineyards, again in chalk soil.

Hand-harvested from both vineyards, it was pressed gently into tank, where the juice was cold settled for a couple of days before being inoculated with selected yeasts. A portion of the wine was allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation, with the entirety being allowed to age gracefully on the fine lees for 20 months before bottling.

Wine Type: White

Variety: Chardonnay

Classification: N/A

Orientation: South and east

Appellation: N/A

Gradient: Between 50 and 90 masl

Soil: Chalk soil

Farming Practices: Minimal Intervention. Accredited by the WineGB Sustainability Programme

Residual Sugar: 3 g/l

Alcohol: 12.5

Malolactic: Yes

Botte Size: 750 ml

Acidity: 6.8 g/l H2T

Other Practices: Sustainable