Wyfold Brut 2011

Wyfold Brut 2011, 12%

(from £26.99, Laithwaites)

Barbara Laithwaite has turned her talented hand from working with her husband Tony building the Laithtwaite’s/Direct Wines empire (which they continue to do) to crafting this elegant, expressive English fizz from a south Oxfordshire hillside not far from their home of 36 years. Among other things…

From the start, Barbara took on personal responsibility for the handiwork in the small vineyard. ‘We put up a small shed’, she says, gesturing to a somewhat perfunctory structure under the trees, ‘to stop me freezing in winter.’ Now, a few more vines have gone in, bringing the total vineyard to around two hectares, so she enlists more help – especially with the Chardonnay harvest, which can be late (into early November sometimes) and thus needs to be done as swiftly as possible. ‘She throws a great vineyard work party,’ observes Direct Wines CEO David Thatcher. A new tractor shed is on the way too.

The first commercial release was the 2009, which Susie rated highly at the Judgement of Parson’s Green, a blind line-up of English fizz (and the odd champagne), which Wyfold famously won. This 2011 blend (75% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Noir, 11% Meunier) is the best vintage yet, and drinking beautifully now. It’s really complex but also vibrant and poised, with lovely bready depths and tangy apple grip. Very assured stuff. A new rosé is scheduled for 2017, which will be worth keeping an eye out for. (7.5-8/10, Peter & Susie, Sept 2016)