Peter Morrell reports on a major new force in the English wine industry
Simpsons Wine Estate state of the art winery was recently opened by Oz Clarke. Charles and Ruth Simpson had been awarded an RDPE (Rural Development Programme for England) Growth Programme grant earlier this year to help fund the conversion of two barns, which are situated equidistant between their vineyards in Barham, Kent, into a modern winery and tasting room.
Speaking at the opening, Oz Clarke said: “I’ve known these fields for many years. They are seriously chalky, well protected and south facing, so I have always wondered why people haven’t planted more vineyards in Kent. It isn’t called the Garden of England for nothing as it has always grown the greatest hops, apples, and pears, and now vines. We probably have more Champagne soil than here than the Champagne region does.”
He continued. “There’s every chance that in the next generation, the greatest sparkling wines will be made here in Kent. I welcome Ruth and Charles to the thriving world of English Sparkling wine. We expect great things, and I’m sure you won’t let us down.”
Charles Simpson: “We’re very excited to have Oz Clarke here to open our winery as he is a local boy from the village of Bishopsbourne, a mile away and went to the same school that our children go to now. We’ve finished our first harvest, which is happily bubbling away in our new winery, which he officially opened today. This is just phase one of our plans and we’re looking forward to starting phase two next year.”
The Simpsons believe that the finest wines convey a rich sense of provenance and integrity, firmly rooted in the characteristics and exquisite nuances of their terroir. This is why they chose the finest parcels of land in southern England to plant vines for Simpsons first English sparkling wine.
The Simpsons’ vineyards occupy a glorious positions on the sunny, sheltered slopes of the North Downs of Kent, protected from the whimsy of the English climate by ancient woodland and anchored in the iconic chalky soils so highly revered in the world of sparkling wine.
At their French wine estate, the award-winning Domaine Sainte Rose in the Languedoc region, they have always pursued the cleaner, truer flavours of the grape, and are now bringing this savoir-faire to their English vineyards. With rootstock meticulously matched to the soil and a new world-class winery just minutes from the vines, you will only find Simpsons grapes in Simpsons wines – none bought in, no method outsourced.
Each bunch of grapes will be picked and pressed by the Simpsons – allowing every step to deliver the fullest expression of their Kentish terroir. Once bottled, the wine gently ferments for a second time according to the méthode traditionnelle and then matures without haste, gaining elegance over the course of years spent resting on its lees.
For more information go to www.simpsonswine.com