The Roman Road Chardonnay 2019
With 91 points from the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021, this is clearly more than a rival to cool-climate Californian Chardonnay and Premier and Grand Cru Chablis.
On tasting the first-ever release of Simpsons’ The Roman Road Chardonnay we knew that this would set the benchmark for English still white wine. Each new vintage has been better than the last. The 2019 follows suit.
The Chardonnay is handpicked from clone 548 vines. This is a Burgundy clone specifically intended for still wines, which is a relative rarity in the UK when most clones were planted with the intention of making sparkling wine. These were grown on icon chalks soils that run from Kent’s North Downs, through Champagne and on to Chablis. Partially fermented in French oak, the wine is aged in a combination of stainless steel and French oak, the latter imparting a glorious richness. With notes of yeasty bread, pineapple, lemon, clementine, grilled apricot, honey, spiced apple pie, smoke and sea salt, this is a fabulous dance partner for roast chicken; Christmas turkey and all the trimmings; rich sauces made from cream, cheese or finely ground nuts; and buttery fish.
Located just outside Canterbury – which is twinned with Reims in the heart of Champagne and has very similar lime-rich chalky soils – you’ll discover Simpsons Wine Estate. This location is no happy accident; it’s a carefully orchestrated strategy that we predict will revolutionise the English Wine world. Ruth and Charles Simpson spent 17 years perfecting their art at their award-winning Domaine Sainte Rose in Languedoc, before setting up their new venture in the stunning Elham Valley (a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty). This kind of winemaking pedigree is somewhat of a rarity in English wine, as many of the recent surge in new winery openings have been set up by people who have made money in The City and are looking for a new challenge.
On visiting the Simpsons Wine Estate – which was bought in 2012, planted in 2014 and opened by Oz Clarke in 2016 – it’s the astonishing attention to detail that strikes you. A recent study by East Anglia University to identify the prime location for vineyards in the UK stopped short of giving exact coordinates for fear of the impact on land prices, but it hinted that the very best place was somewhere near Canterbury. When you look at Simpsons’ vineyards, it’s hard not to think they’ve found the magical plots. This area of the North Downs has some of the highest sunshine hours in the UK, their slopes are perfectly positioned to optimise sun capture and protect from winds and frosts, the chalky soils are on the same seam that runs from Champagne, and the maritime influence of the coast being just eight miles away results in a long, slow ripening season that produces immensely complex grapes. While most English wineries use sparkling wine clones for their still wines, Simpsons use clones much like the ones you’ll find in Chablis or Central Otago that are intended primarily for still wines; they bring in experts from France at great expense to help with planting, bottling, labelling and disgorgement; they employ top-of-the-line technology from their oxygen-free press to their in-house analytical tools; their fining is all vegan friendly; and finally, but most importantly, their winery is fitted with a spiral slide so that all visitors leave with a smile on their face. If you needed any further endorsement, then it’s worth pointing out that Taittinger have recently planted vineyards in Kent, and guess who they turned to process some of their first grapes? You’ve guessed it: Simpsons Wine Estate.
£3.73 per 100.00ml
SKU No.: 3456851
Style No.: 832038
Help & Advice
Find out the delivery options for this item.
Returns couldn't be easier.Find out more
If you're suffering from a sartorial block or need a hand hunting down something extra special, we're here to help.