An English red on the list

Just found this while looking for their Chardonnay. Is this a first?


Perhaps because they have a meet the winemaker with them on the 23rd?

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Certainly can’t recollect one and I’d like to think I’d have noticed. TWS A bit slow on the uptake as English PN has been quite respectable for the past 3 vintages at least.

Nice spot! This was hinted at recently but can’t recall the occasion. My last English PN was tasty so this goes into the wishlist!

Limited to 3 per member.

I’ve tried Bride Valley and Furleigh Estate, both in Dorset. Neither impressed, I’m afraid, though I don’t claim to be an expert and would be happy to hear other views, or to hear of other English PN’s worth seeking out.

I’ve had the one from Gusbourne which was really lovely. Though £35. This could be worth a try.


I’ve enjoyed Bolney’s 2018 & 19, Winbirri 2018 & 19, Trevibban Mill’s 2014 ( yes that long ago, admittedly a bit pricey) and looking forward to Simpson’s Rabbit Hole 2020 when it comes next week.

Obviously we’re not in Burgundy grand cru territory but I took a Winbirri to France to a blind taste-off against a same vintage €20 (French-bought) village Burgundy (Cote Challonaise but can’t remember which one) for French “amateurs” and the English was preferred (much to the assembled company’s displeasure). If you like medium bodied fruit forward with a bit of peppery and tannic bite, quaffing style rather than contemplatively sipping, I think they’re splendid.

Grape Britannia is a good place to look English Red Wines - Browse Wines - Grape Britannia


I had a glass of Tillingham’s unoaked pinot noir recently which was delicious - delicate strawberry fruit and a peppery spiciness that made me think of canary island reds. Expensive though… I’d like to try the oak aged version they do which is apparently fuller bodied

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I would add, though, that we quite liked this

it’s not ‘proper’ Pinot Noir, but I’ve had this a few times, and it’s lovely.

Reasonably pricey mind. Now limiting to one bottle at a time.

Pinot Noir Precoce

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The Gusbourne Boot Hill is the only English PN I’ve chosen to spend money on, although at £35 it’s not a cheapie. The 2018 is a very good wine, although now sold out. 2019 is unsurprisingly a touch leaner but has good structure. In 2019 they also made a premium cuvee, albeit for another £10 on top of the Boot Hill

I’m interested in the one in the list - thanks for sharing

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I’ve asked many-a-vigneron about the legitimacy of pinot noir precocé (frühburgunder) and I believe it shouldn’t be regarded as improper; after all it’s grown and vinified alongside PN in PN strongholds such as Pfalz and Ahr, and is a clonal mutation of PN rather than a cultivar, cross or sibling. JRWG talks of its existence known since the c17th. I don’t think it’s any more improper than the many other PN clones which are said to be best suited for whatever terroir they are cultivated and, as it happens, frühburgunder seems to do very well in England & Wales. That 2 weeks earlier ripening makes all the difference in marginal climates, though as climate change advances it may prove less of an advantage.

What do others think ?


I guess you could make the same point about Pinot Meunier. The fact is that PN seems to be particularly prone to mutations. Something like Pinot Gris is self evidently different enough to merit a different name, but where do you start or stop with the ones that are still red? (Well, black, but YKWIM).

Frühburgunder is PN; it’s as legitimate as any other clone. Whether one likes it is a different matter, but unless you know the clone/clones used in the PN that you do like, then you have only half the picture. There is no requirement to state on labels the clone/s used and the PN one prefers over frühburgunder could be frühburgunder made in a different way.

There are about 10,00o different known PN clones. Some are different enough to be given different names, like Meunier (noticeable because of white hairs on leaves), & Precoce (noticeable because of much earlier ripening) , then there are clones distinctly different (white) Pinot Blanc and (grey/pink) Pinot Gris/Grigio.

If one taste’s a 100% 777 clone and compares it to a 100% Wadenswill clone they seem like different varieties even from the same vineyard, same rootstock and the same winemaking regime.

Most wineries blend juice from different clones to make their PN, throw in different rootstock, different winemakers and terroir and calling a wine Pinot Noir is at best a vague guide to its taste.


Absolutely and the very best PNs from the very best sites in the world will encourage clonal diversity within their vineyards, some of which date back hundreds of years , the diversity in clones allows different phenolics and ripeness which add to the tools a winemaker has to produce a great wine. Limiting yourself to one particular dark skinned clone seems a little counter productive if your aim is to produce the best Pinot Noir you possibly can .

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I am not getting into an argument here, though I probably am, but last year my cousin who was a vineyard manager and is currently a consultant and agronomist and spent his learning years in NZ, was talking about Précoce last year after an English vineyard he was advising insisted the label saying Pinot Noir was correct.
Précoce is a mutation not a clone it is an early ripening version which suited early plantings in more northerly climes.
It is not probably that important but I would have a word with someone who knows a lot more about clones of grapes than I do, it is not a clone and that is all I will say because there is a difference, having spent my working life in horticulture, one comes across this sort of thing all the time in the plant world, and the nomenclature is changing all the time.

And then you throw in Laffort, where business really gets down to the business of winemaking.

Agree yr’ honour. I was too quick to describe it as a clone. It’s a mutation therefore not a clone; clearly these are contradictory terms. But all the same it’s a proper vinifera and does well in the UK so what’s not to like. Better than ghastly rondo and regent that’s for sure


I struggle to explains the difference between a clone and a mutation.

Isn’t a mutation just a more noticeable difference than a clone? Pinot Blanc is a mutation because it has noticeably produces white grapes, not black, Precoce is a … what? A mutation because it noticeably ripens on average 2 weeks earlier than other PNs?

All the clones are noticeable because of differences, however they are not huge differences, but you have ones that are prized because they have thick skins and produce tastier wine, and thin skinned ones that are prized because they produce a lot of juice, tthus cheaper wines and can still be sold as PN.