“Made with precision and passion in Sussex” is the apt motto of Simon Woodhead’s, Stopham Estate. Having begun his career as an engineer, designing parts for Formula One racing cars, Simon planted six hectares of predominantly Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc at Stopham Estate, near Pulborough, in West Sussex, in 2007. Stopham is known locally for its ancient buildings that were recorded in the Domesday Book, as well as the swans that swim the River Arun, the banks of which form the lower boundary to the vineyards. Simon’s small winery is in a converted barn on the estate that he leases from the owners, the Barttelot family. His Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are the best still wines we’ve tasted from this country. Both closed with Stelvin, they have the purity reminiscent of New Zealand, with the freshness of the Loire. The fruit character, however, is pure English, with aromas of white flowers and hedgerow and flavours of orchard fruits.
Stopham Estate’s 2014 Pinot Blanc is a lovely pale lemon colour in the glass with fresh perfumes of pear. On the palate, pink grapefruit, melon and sweet fennel combine with a zippy acidity. Well balanced, the wine has a succulent sweetness which lasts well into the lengthy finish.