Instant Classics: New releases from our 2018 vintage
Introducing Oxney Classic 2018 and Oxney Classic Chardonnay 2018
In many ways, the summer of 2018 feels like a lifetime ago. The tsunami of world events that have followed have to some extent swamped sun-kissed memories of a heatwave that seemed destined never to end. Fortunately we have two new releases from our Classic sparkling wine range to revive those 2018 memories in the best possible way.
What made 2018 so special?
For English wine growers, 2018 was about as good as it gets. Jancis Robinson called it “England’s miracle vintage” and part of the miracle was the transformation from a decidedly unfavourable climatic start to the year. The early spring saw us beset by the icy blizzards of the Beast From The East, followed by a rainy April. If you’d asked us in mid-April, when the buds burst on our vines, what we were expecting from the summer, our answer would not have been optimistic.
Then all of a sudden, towards the end of the month, the clouds parted and the sun shone and shone and shone, and basically did not stop until harvest in October. By that time our vines were groaning with ripe, healthy fruit. Low rainfall meant we avoided the perennial English problems of disrupted flowering/fruit set at the start of the summer and disease pressure at the end of it. Our yield of grapes was through the roof, as were sugar levels and phenolic ripeness. All the while, the relatively cool nights retained trademark English acidity in the grapes.
The result of all this was a bountiful crop of beautifully ripe grapes: enough to release our still 2018 Chardonnay to great acclaim, with a healthy stock to divert off on the slow road to becoming sparkling wines. In terms of vintage wines, we’re thrilled to be sharing the first results with you now.
Chardonnay is such a chameleon. After the success of the still 2018, it’s wonderful to be able to show it off in a different guise as a blanc de blancs sparkling wine. We made our first vintage from the 2017 crop and, dare we say it, this second offering is even better.
That lovely ripe fruit definitely makes its presence known. On the nose there are unexpected little wafts of peach blossom, pears and mirabelles alongside the trademark lemon and green apple notes. In the mouth, citrus and green apples come to the fore but the fruit profile is concentrated and deep. After 36 months on lees, there are all the toasty brioche notes you’d expect, held in check by purifying acidity. But we think the thing that stands out most about this wine is the mouthfeel: simultaneously crisp and creamy, fresh and fulsome. It makes a real statement and we reckon it would be sensational with a bouillabaisse.
This is the latest release of the centrepiece of our vintage Classic range, blended from selected parcels of our three champagne varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. The blend varies every year to showcase the fortes of the vintage and this time round, Pinot Meunier is the star of the show. The 2016 Classic told a similar story and this wine is very reminiscent of that wildly popular release.
If anything, the fruit here is a little riper and the flavours more complex, as you might expect given the 2018 growing year. There’s a deep red-apple core, with a squeeze of lemon and autolytic characters nudging into buttered pastry territory. The combination of lees ageing and partial malolactic conversion has done wonders for the texture – it’s so plush in the mouth; the bubbles dance on a bed of silken cream. Apologies, some wines awaken the inner poet and this is one of them!
Both the Classic 2018 and Classic Chardonnay 2018 are available to buy from our online shop. Or if you’re in the area, do pop in and try before you buy from our vineyard shop. Our 2022 tour season begins on Saturday 7th May and we’ll be pouring for visitors from our upcycled shepherd’s hut outdoor bar all through the summer.
Finally, we have another new release due very soon and we’re very excited about it indeed. Follow us on Instagram and stay tuned for details.