London winery to sell new fizz for £100

Urban winery Renegade London has begun the pre-sale for its new English sparkling wine, a blanc de noirs costing £100 a bottle and which is being aged in a church crypt.

Made from Pinot Noir and Meunier grown in Suffolk from the 2016 vintage, just 800 bottles of the wine have been produced.

Perhaps the most eye-catching detail of the new wine is its price. At £100 a bottle the Renegade Blanc de Noirs is immediately catapulted to the very front of the queue for most expensive wine made in England, a direct competitor to Chapel Down’s single vineyard label Kit’s Coty and more expensive than Nyetimber’s single vineyard ‘Tillington’.

Speaking to the drinks business, Renegade’s co-founder, Warwick Smith, explained that the price was principally the result of the cost of the fruit and the production but also the early demand for the wine as well.

He said: “The reason for the price was twofold: supply and demand and cost of production.

“Most of our wines sell for £16-20 [a bottle] and we wanted something a bit more premium given the work and fruit cost. It was difficult to decide on because we weren’t sure we’d would break even on it.”

With regards production, the wine was whole bunch pressed using a 100 litre wooden basket press and the juice then underwent alcoholic fermentation in ex-Chardonnay barrels from Burgundy.

Undergoing regular lees-stirring, the wine is currently undergoing secondary fermentation (and then will remain ageing on its lees), “in the crypt of a well known London church,” according to Smith.

Sales are ticking along, however, with Smith reporting just under 300 bottles had been sold in the last five days – with buyers ranging from the London on-trade, to individuals in New York and Hong Kong.

The wine will probably stay on its lees until August 2018 said the winery and will be released in November of that year. Renegade is going to be regularly opening bottles to check how the wine is progressing and to help decide when it needs to be disgorged and those who have or who do eventually buy a bottle, invitations will be extended to come and taste the wine.

As for future plans for English sparkling wines from Renegade, Smith said they had acquired more Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc – this time from Herefordshire – for a couple of projects going into 2018.

The Pinot Noir is apparently to be made into a traditional method sparkling rosé but Smith said he and winemaker Josh Hammond had other ideas for the Seyval, including either charmat method or even carbonation and bottling in can to make an earlier-drinking type of English sparkling wine.

“We’re keen to see what interest there is in other English sparkling,” said Smith, “Is London ready for wine in a can?”

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