About this WINE
Coates and Seely
Coates & Seely is a joint venture for the production of a great English sparkling wine from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes grown on the Southern chalk downlands of England. The founding partners are Christian Seely, the English Managing Director of of Axa Millésimes (owners of Château Pichon-Longueville, Chateau Suduiraut and Quinta do Noval, among others) and Nicholas Coates, an old friend of Seely's, who retreated from a successful career in finance to his home at the foot of the North Hampshire Downs in England, determined to discover a new way of life in tune with the countryside around him.
Their objective is to combine traditional methods used in Champagne with the best of modern technology to produce a sparkling wine that reflects the unique characteristics of English chalk terroir and the established craft of the French winemaker.
The vineyards are located in a secluded valley of outstanding natural beauty only a mile and a half from Coates' Hampshire home. On one side of the valley, a south-facing chalk slope, known as 'The Wooldings', had been established with vine plantings by the late Charles Cunningham, since the early 1990s. The vineyard was being kept going by his 84-year old widowed mother, Daphne Cunningham. It was with her that Coates & Seely formed a partnership to develop the site into a best-in-class vineyard of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines capable of producing the highest quality fruit for English sparkling wine. A further eighteen-acre, south-east facing chalk slope opposite the original Wooldings vineyard was also planted out with new Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay vines, bringing the total under vine at the Wooldings to thirty acres.
The second vineyard a 20-acre south-facing vineyard in the heart of the Exton Park sporting estate, in the Meon Valley in South Hampshire, consists of high chalk downland and a series of plunging escarpments - known locally as 'Little Switzerland'. The winery is based in the original building at Wooldings, and was refurbished with state-of-the-art wine-making technology from France.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.
Tom Cannavan -winepages.com