Pulborough, West Sussex, England
Full commitment to terroir and biodiversity
A firm belief in the greensand terroir of the South Downs and in a strict blending discipline are the two main drivers behind the award-winning wines from Ambriel. The husband and wife team spent five years looking for the perfect place to make their winemaking dream come true. Once they’d found it Charles and Wendy changed their lives and Ambriel was born.
Location: Pulborough West Sussex, England
Working with us since: 2020
Viticultural standards: No herbicides used in the vineyard. Minimal intervention and low use of sulphur in the cellar.
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: Blanc de Blancs
Interesting fact: The sheep that roam through the vineyard during winter are a flock of ouessants, a breed of domestic sheep from the island of Ouessant off the coast of Brittany. Also sometimes called the Breton Dwarf, it is one of the smallest breeds of sheep in the world. Rams are around 49 centimetres (19 in) tall at the shoulder, and the ewes about 45 centimetres (18 in).
Decided to dedicate themselves passionately and fully to winemaking, Charles and Wendy spent five years looking for the ideal terroir to set up their operations. They eventually found the greensand banks overlooking South Downs. While other producers have focused on the Champagne-like chalk soils, their vineyard sits on a greensand slope. The greensand soil and the gradient of the slope provides, according to the husband & wife team, the ideal level of drainage and heat retention for the plants to develop the fruit with best potential. Ambriel works with the three classic champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier – but have used Burgundian clones, selected for their superior quality and their suitability to the South Downs terroir.
The vineyards are managed within a holistic framework, with a focus on biodiversity: wildflower plantings encourage the presence of insects that act as natural pest predators; sheep graze between the vines in winter, promoting the soils fertility; the hedges are groomed by Golden Guernsey goats. In the middle of the vineyard, an untamed wild vegetation clearing acts as a balancing and diversity engine.
The same principle of low intervention paired with precision is followed in the cellar. Grapes are handpicked and each variety and clone is pressed and vinified separately. Some of the wine is fermented in old oak, bringing additional complexity and texture to the final blends. All the different base wines are tasted blind for the most accurate and thorough blending process. Charles and Wendy’s ultimate goal is to let each cuvée to be an expressive product of the terroir and allowing the second fermentation to enhance, rather that obscure it.