Once you start looking for vegan-friendly wines, you start finding them everywhere. After having a rather exciting Bank Holiday having a tour of the Furleigh Estate vineyards in Dorset, and discovering Larry Cherubino’s stunning Australian wines at a tasting event, I’ve now stumbled across yet another vegan wine producer: Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard in East Sussex.
Making organic, biodynamic, low-sulphite wines, Sedlescombe is another shining example of just how fast English wine is establishing itself on the global wine market. Every wine they make is Soil Association-certified organic and registered with the Vegan Society– and they don’t lack international awards, either. Definitely a producer I need to look into further.
For now, I’ve only had the pleasure of enjoying one of their organic sparkling wines; the Pinot Noir – Chardonnay Brut.
Eagle-eyed wine buffs might have noticed that in the picture above, there’s no foil covering the cork cage, unlike most Champagnes and sparkling wines. I didn’t remove it to take the photo – Sedlescombe sparkling wines just don’t have them. In keeping with their organic and environmentally-friendly ethos, they’ve opted for minimised packaging. To be honest, I respect them greatly for this decision. With the current environmental concerns running rife in every sector of society, there’s not that much justification for aesthetics for aesthetic’s sake. It’s time we broke away from stoic wine snobbery, and started finding ways to encourage this traditional craft into a sustainable future. After all, we all enjoy wine, and want to keep on enjoying it in the years to come!
Sedlescombe is actually England’s oldest organic vineyard, establishing itself in 1979, and those years of hard-work and persistence have paid off. This vintage (2013) went on to win Gold at the 2015 International Organic Wine Awards, as well as receiving 88/100 points from Decanter. Having learned this beforehand, I was eager to crack it open and see whether it lived up to the hype.
In the glass, it’s the usual pale lemon colour, and there’s some very exuberant bubbles! It’s a brightly burning star of the English fizz scene; lively, and made for the moment. For all its enthusiasm, or perhaps because of it, this wine did lose its bubbly energy quite quickly after opening – that’s where a champagne saver comes in handy though! Pop it at a party- or do what I did, and share it out between thirsty housemates- and this shouldn’t be a problem, however.
How It Tastes:
On the nose, and to taste, there’s soft red fruits; strawberries, and red currants. This comes from the wine’s 66% Pinot Noir to 34% Chardonnay ratio– Pinot Noir is notorious for strawberry. In the days before I started researching whether wines were vegan-friendly, Bollinger was my go-to Champagne, mostly because it is also 60% Pinot Noir, and I love the light red fruit character that complements the butteriness of Chardonnay grapes. It is with a great sadness that I must report that Bollinger may not even be vegetarian. For anyone who also likes this style of Champagne, you should be keeping your eye out for Blanc de Noirs. These are sparkling wines made only with the traditional black Champagne grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
Underneath the fruitiness, there’s a creamy layer to the Sedlescombe, which comes from the winemaker’s decision to leave it on its lees for 4 years. For anyone who doesn’t know, “on the lees” refers to the time the sparkling wine spends fermenting inside the bottle, with the yeast cells. Over time the yeast cells die, but continue to add flavour to the wine, before they are eventually removed. It’s this that gives Champagne (and sparkling wines made in the traditional Champagne method) their creamy, yeasty, bready notes. To balance this out, there’s also a zip of citrus through the wine, giving it a refreshing acidity.
Full disclosure, this fizz was actually a gift from Alex, the founder of Organic Wine Club, along with a very intriguing French sparkling red wine, with no added sulphites.
Based in London but also available online, Organic Wine Club specialise in finding the nicest natural, organic, biodynamic, sustainable and low-sulphite wines on the market. They have an extensive list of wines that deserve their places on the blog, so expect to see more reviewed on here, too. Spreading the wine love, one post at a time.
Want a bottle of your own? You can buy Sedlescombe 2013 from Organic Wine Club here. You can also buy it directly from the vineyard, but it requires a minimum case order (6 bottles).