Westwell launches England’s ‘first’ amphora wine

27th June, 2017 by Rupert Millar

English winery Westwell has released what it says is likely the UK’s first wine to be fermented in a terracotta amphora.

The Kent-based winery has made a very small batch of wine using the amphora, just 685 bottles, and using the Ortega variety, which is at the heart of its still wines.

John Rowe, the owner and winemaker at the estate, commissioned the amphora from Artenova near Florence, a potter that has also made amphorae for numerous high profile wineries such as Champagne Jacques Selosse.

As well as wanting to experiment with the fashionable winemaking vessel, Rowe explained that he was also inspired the strong use of amphora among Italian winemakers, which was all the more important to him because he grew up in Montalcino where his mother owned a vineyard.

He said: “After seeing and tasting amphorae-fermented wines in Italy, I wanted to see how making wines as our forefathers did was like, as well as adding extra dimensions and texture to our popular Ortega still white wines.

“The handmade amphora creates very different fermentation vortices, which constantly swirl the yeast lees during fermentation. This produces greater body and softness to the wine as well as power and some rich toasted honeyed notes. Ageing in amphora is also quite different to our tank or barrel- fermented wines. The way oxygen is picked up [by the wine] is somewhere between stainless steel and barrel, which gives some of the freshness you get with tank-fermented wines, but also a little of the aged characteristics you get with barrels.

“We are very excited by the initial results and will look to see how we can also use amphora for some of our sparkling cuvées. The one downside is that they are much harder to clean out, but it is worth it!”

The wine is available to buy now, priced £13.45 a bottle.

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