Athingmill, Tillingham

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Athingmill, 2020, Tillingham

A snapshot of Tillingham’s 2020 - a bit of everything with grapes, apples and fun

Region: Sussex, England
Grape(s): Ortega, Madeline Angevine, Pinot Meunier, Bacchus, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Auxerrois, Chardonnay, Regent & Cider
Genre: Organic (in mindset, not stamp)
Low Sulphur: Yes
Tasting Notes: Red, green and stone fruits, soft bubbles, creamy sherbet texture

Ben Walgate, friend of NAW and pioneer of British natural wine, set up Tillingham in 2017. It overlooks the Tillingham river, near the town of Rye, East Sussex. With a farm dating back to the 13th century, it makes sense that they are “championing ancient traditions” in their work in both the vineyard and the cellar. Ben is a strong believer in biodiversity in the vineyards and they view the vines as only a part of a holistic ecosystem that ranges from vineyards to fruit trees, woodlands and livestock. Their wines are natural and made without any (or very, very little) added sulphur, and he is incorporating long-skin contact on some whites, carbonic maceration on some reds and the use of Qvevri (as well as the more traditional stainless steel, oak barrel and concrete) for both fermentation and aging. Qvevri is an ancient Georgian clay vessel, that is buried under the ground, that has been used in winemaking for many millennia. Burying it allows for more stable temperatures during the fermentation and aging process, which (above land) can be incredibly hot in summer and incredibly cold in winter due to Georgia’s continental climate.

A small amount of red wine was left in a Qvevri after bottling, with the lees still in the clay. Pinot Blanc and apple juice were added, followed by a selection of wines from tank/barrel/concrete – a mix of skin contact and direct pressed wines. The wine was fermented in the Qvevri before being transferred to bottle with a small amount of residual sugar to start a second fermentation in the bottle. A fun and expression sparkling wine with a lot going on:
- Ortega 11%
- Madeline Angevine 11%
- Pinot Meunier 11%
- Bacchus 11%
- Pinot Blanc 11%
- Pinot Noir 11%
- Auxerrois 11%
- Chardonnay 11%
- Regent 8%
- Cider 4%