Wine of the Week: Westwell Pelegrim NV, England

As we prepare to celebrate the ancient pagan festival of Saturnalia, to quote Sheldon Cooper, the time seems right to take a journey along the old Pilgrim’s Way to celebrate a fizzy contender to Champagne produced in the garden of England.

Sat atop of the final stretch of the Pilgrim’s Way into Canterbury, Westwell vineyard is steeped in history. With just over nine acres planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – the Champagne grape varieties – it’s Pelegrim (Pilgrim in middle English) sparkling wine is a tribute to our forbearers who walked above the vineyard for centuries, replicating the tradition in how the grapes are grown, selected and fermented.

With a terroir that is comparable to that of the famed French region, this corner of Kent sits on a sandy silt-loam soil layer with a chalk sub-layer underneath which provides both deep drainage as well as gentle moisture to the vines even in the driest of summers. The soils contain high proportions of flint, which help drainage and retain the heat, before radiating this back during the night.

The Pelegrim NV is a traditional bottle-fermented sparkling wine that is made from the small batch of Champagne grape varieties with reserve wines from previous vintages to give further complexity and a consistent extra dry non-vintage style. The wines are lees-aged in bottle for 18-24 months to give depth and some biscuity aromas which only bottle-fermentation can deliver.

Expect fine persistent mousse and bubbles. Amber colour with fresh aromas of apples, raspberries and sourdough with a full palate and a lemon twist at the end.  Excellent to celebrate Christmas, as an aperitif, cocktail base or as a food accompaniment.

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