To produce the “Cuvée Chérie” Demi-Sec Nyetimber the grapes were loaded into one of four Coquard Presses imported from Epernay. The computer-controlled programmes are altered according to the vintage and different varieties to allow for variations in skin condition and bunch density. The must was transferred into stainless-steel tanks with each vineyard section kept separate. Fermentation lasted approximately 12 days for the base wines from which the wines destined for the final blend were selected. The second fermentation took place in bottle and it then spent five years on its lees before riddling and disgorging and at least six months in bottle before release. The dosage was 44g/l.
Several different clones and rootstocks were selected to spread the harvest period and widen the range of flavours in the wines. The vineyards benefit from a specific microclimate, planted as they are on the north side of the Downs to protect them from the southerly coastal winds. Soils here are chalky and sandy. Due to the marginal climate a longer hang time is necessary to allow for better accumulation of flavours.
The Nyetimber Estate is based in the heart of West Sussex, on what is regarded as a perfect site for the production of sparkling wine. The Estate, which was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, was first established as a vineyard in 1988 when just over 14 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines were planted. Ever-increasing demand for Nyetimber’s sparkling wines led to considerable vineyard expansion from 2006 onwards. Nyetimber now has 11 carefully selected vineyards across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent, with a total of 327 hectares under vine. The Estate is owned by Dutchman Eric Heerema who, alongside Head Winemaker Cherie Spriggs, has installed an impressive cellar. All of their grapes are 100% estate-grown, handpicked and gently pressed, parcel by parcel, by six state-of-the-art Coquard presses from Champagne. Nyetimber’s vineyard holdings lie either on chalk or greensand soils, both of which are favoured for their good drainage and low vigour. The vines are rigorously managed to ensure excellent flavour concentration and de-leafing is carried out to maximise the exposure of the grapes to sunlight. Nyetimber was the first producer to make English Sparkling Wine exclusively from the ‘Champagne varieties’: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. Nyetimber provides a lot code on the back label of each bottle. Entering this code on their website will provide a precise chronology of each bottle from the moment it was bottled to when it was riddled and disgorged.