Farr Vintners Logo

Sugrue South Downs

Sugrue South Downs is one of the leading wineries in England. Husband and wife Dermot and Ana Sugrue are making small production wines with big personalities, resulting in some of the most exciting English sparkling wines we have tasted. Dermot has serious experience in making wines in the UK with a CV that includes Nyetimber and Wiston Estate, while Ana has made wines around the world with significant stints at Schloss Gobelsburg and Umathum in Austria.

Ana recently came to Farr Vintners HQ to showcase the new releases, led by the 2019 vintage of The Trouble With Dreams. The cuvée takes its name from the devastating result of the would-be first vintage in 2008. The night before a healthy harvest, birds swept the vineyard and picked the vines nearly clean of fruit, dashing any hopes of making wine. Now, over a decade on, the 2019 bottling is the finest we have tasted to date.

The 2019 includes 30% Coldharbour Vineyard fruit from West Sussex for the first time. These vines will form part of the blend from this vintage on and are critical to the evolution and improvement of this wine. 50% is fruit from Mount Harry Vineyard in East Sussex, with the remainder Storrington Priory fruit from West Sussex. The blend is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, vinified half in 500 litre used oak barrels and half in stainless steel.

The latest vintage is a triumph, with intense, driven citrus and stone fruit drawing focus. This is a lip-smacking and very appetising sparkling wine, drinkable now but with such depth and length as to merit cellaring. It recently received 17.5 from Tamlyn Currin, writing for Jancis Robinson, who says "I've been tasting a very large number of top-notch grower champagnes recently and by comparison the Sugrue wines, every bit as good, are underpriced ".

That price is £200 per six in bond, which is excellent value for a small production sparkling wine from one of England's leading lights. You can drink it now, but it will doubtless age beautifully in the cellar for a decade or more.

We also have two other new releases availble:

The excellent 2018 Rosé Ex Machina is £225 per six. Made entirely from Coldharbour fruit this is a soft, generous style, bursting with red fruit and an immediate pleasure that makes it ideal to drink over the summer months. 17.5 from Tamlyn who says it has "crystalline acidity and exquisitely precise fruit in a kaleidoscopic collision of dazzling dimensions", concluding "A wine to watch the sun rise with".

Finally, the zero dosage 2017 Base Vintage ZODO is £270 per six. Making a wine with no dosage is a brave thing to do in England with the cooler climate farmers have to contend with, but this 2017 is superbly executed. Steely and mineral as to be expected, this is a racy lipsmacking style of English sparkling wine. Just 2,000 bottles were made.