This delicate red grape is our most planted variety. We grow 5 different, mainly Burgundian, clones of Pinot Noir. These slightly lower yielding clones provide a richness and fruitiness to our Blanc de Noirs Sparkling wines rarely found in Champagne. They produce wines that complement traditional dishes such as braised belly of pork or baked apple desserts. Pinot Noir constitutes a little under 45% of our plantings.
The less well-known Pinot Meunier is perhaps our most expressive grape in the vineyard. We grow 3 champagne clones of this variety on three separate parcels. It constitutes just under 15% of our plantings. The delicate pale and powdery colour of the leaves makes it stand out in the vineyards. It produces the most beautiful bunches of flavour packed fruit. In good years, the Meunier produces a beautifully balanced wine with richness, roundness and a long refreshing finish, worthy of its own Limited Edition varietal cuvée. In more average years it adds to the complexity of our Pinot Noir dominated Blanc de Noirs blend, Tradition Brut. We have long been fans of Meunier dominated Champagnes. Our first Limited Edition Meunier Brut 2014 was awarded a Gold medal by the IWSC in 2018.
The grape which often dominates most sought after Champagne blends loves the denser soils in our vineyards, so we tend to grow it where the clay is most dominant and the soil water retention highest. This is somewhat at odds with conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, this is our experience. We grow 3 medium yielding Burgundian clones of Chardonnay, known for their moderate to large berries and concentrated fruit flavours, and one more productive Champagne clone. They produce wines with zesty, citrusy flavours and a strong personality. The idea that good sparkling wine can only come from Chardonnay grown on freer draining chalk soils is rather disproven by our high scoring award winning Essence Brut Pure Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs from 2011 & 2014. Chardonnay constitutes just under 35% of our plantings.
We grow Pinot Gris because it produces a glorious juice with elevated natural sugars. It is spiced and aromatic; our cool climate allowing us to retain those subtle hints of ginger and the floral aromatic notes within the wine when we make it. Pinot Gris constitutes about 6% of our plantings. Such was the quality of the first Pinot Gris crop in 2013, we were inspired to give it a cuvée of its own, supported by a modest amount of Chardonnay. It was instantly awarded a Gold medal by the MW committee chaired by Oz Clarke & Susie Barrie in the 2017 UK Wine Awards. This cuvée is an example of our innovative approach to wine-making where we focus very much on the grapes and how they might best express themselves in wine. Fox & Fox Inspiration Brut Blanc de Blancs 2013 was the first ever varietal Pinot Gris sparkling wine produced and released in the UK. It is particularly well paired with seafood and Asian inspired dishes, the subtle notes of ginger and citrus bringing out the full flavours of those foods.