Element 20 2010
Element 20 2010 is one of the most complex still English wines I have tasted, with a fine juxtaposition between the tart zestiness of the Bacchus and the stone-fruit complexity of low-yielding, barrel-fermented Chardonnay.
With hints of honey and acacia, and a seriously long finish, this is a great example of what can be achieved – admittedly with more than a little care and attention. But then the winemaking duo behind this, Aussie John Worontschak (immediate right) and Kiwi Sam Harrop MW, have created wines of depth all around the globe.
For the fruit for this one they headed closer to home: to Dorking's own Denbies, where with their Litmus Wines consultancy, they have also been responsible for the winery's recent award-winning wines, including its 2011 IWC Gold Medal-winning rosé and the recently released Sainsbury's Taste the Difference English Sparkling Brut 2007.
A touch of honey
Grapes for Element 20 are fermented separately in French oak barriques, giving the wine a touch of vanilla and a hint of spice. Texture comes courtesy of nine months on the lees.
And the name? Wonderful idea: Calcium – of which there is so much both in the Champagne region and the Downs area in the UK, is the 20th element in the periodic table. This vital mineral appears in the soil partly in the form of ancient marine fossils known as coccoliths, and the image on the bottle label is a stylised version of a coccolith.
While Sam has headed off to focus on other projects, Litmus general manager Mike Florence tells me there are plans for several other interesting releases in the pipeline, so we'll keep you posted.
But with only 3300 bottles produced of Element 20 2010 – they hope to produce more of the 2011 – I'd recommend you don't delay if you want to get your hands on one of the best English wines around.
RRP: £20, available from a range of independents, including The VineKing, Dorking; The Sampler, Islington; Noel Young Wines; for full list see Litmus Wines
Photo of John and Sam: Andy Newbold Photography