As we continue with another English vineyard interview, we chat to Cherie Spriggs, Head Winemaker at the multi award-winning English vineyard and winery, Nyetimber.
Hi Cherie, welcome to The English Wine Collection's English Vineyard focus blog. it's great to have you here. Could you tell us how you got involved in the world of wine?
My interest in the world of wine began during my biochemistry undergraduate degree, when I realised the true potential for the coming together of science, craftsmanship and artistry in the production of fine wines. My passion grew throughout my time at university, leading me to complete a Master’s degree at the Wine Research Centre in Vancouver. Shortly after, I qualified as an oenologist at Adelaide University in Australia, working alongside a number of esteemed winemakers in the top wine regions of Australia, New Zealand, USA, France and Canada.
My husband, Brad Greatrix, and I make up the winemaking team at Nyetimber. We were introduced to Nyetimber when we received a bottle as a gift from my parents back in 2007. The quality potential was unmistakable, prompting us to make contact with Eric Heerema, Owner and Chief Executive of Nyetimber, and soon after we joined him as Nyetimber’s winemakers.
Nyetimber has been producing traditional method sparkling wines for 30 years, however it was only following the estate’s purchase by Eric Heerema in March 2006, that the wines from this quiet corner of Southern England were elevated to truly compete with the world’s finest sparkling wines, commanding the real attention of wine lovers across the globe.
What is special about the specific terroir at Nyetimber’s vineyard?
The South of England has the perfect conditions for producing the finest sparkling wines, with a relatively cool climate and optimal soils. Nyetimber has nine vineyards in West Sussex and Hampshire and two in Kent, all sitting on the very same chalk or greensand soil that runs under the vines in Champagne. Each Nyetimber vineyard was carefully selected to ensure the ideal conditions for the slow ripening of the grapes to give the optimum level of acidity and the complexity and finesse for which Nyetimber is renowned.
Red wines are harder to produce in England due to our cooler climate conditions, despite this, some English red wines are available. Have you considered producing any red wines?
Nyetimber has only ever produced sparkling wines in the traditional method using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. There are no plans to produce red wines at Nyetimber.
Do you have plans to produce a new Nyetimber wine?
2018 will be a milestone year for Nyetimber and English sparkling wine. We look forward to sharing more details soon.
That sounds exciting! Other than your own English wines, what is your ‘go to’ favourite wine?
A wide variety, but it's most important that is is made by people with passion for what they do.
What’s the perfect pairing for your English wines?
Without exception, the wines made at Nyetimber are wines of elegance, delicacy and subtle flavours over power or density. Each wine in our range is completely unique, meaning the ‘perfect pairing’ varies from wine to wine. Our Classic Cuvee pairs beautifully with smoked salmon or the exquisite flavour of oysters or spring vegetables such as asparagus, whereas our Demi-Sec (a wine designed solely for the purpose of food pairing) best complements certain delicate desserts of British cuisine.
Despite the soaring popularity of English wines, the majority of the world is still unsure where to start. What would you suggest to a first time buyer of English wines?
As the pioneer of English sparkling wine, Nyetimber is a great place to start. Like all of our wines, Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Multi-Vintage is made from 100% estate grown grapes and is widely regarded as our ‘signature wine’, winning a Gold Medal at the IWSC 2017 – testament to our unwavering commitment to producing sparkling wines of exceptional quality.
English wines are generally thought to be more expensive than their European counterparts, do you feel this is justified?
English wines are not more expensive if one compares like with like… blind tasting success, extensive lees ageing and 100% estate-owned grapes all mean you get much more for your money with a bottle of Nyetimber than others.