Digby Reserve Brut 2009

Digby Reserve Brut 2009
Kate Corcoran

Kate Corcoran

I headed down to West Sussex a few weeks ago to a free tasting of the 2009 Digby Sparkling White at the Exceptional English Wine Company shop in Cowdray Park.

It was cold and rainy when I arrived, but the atmosphere around the cheese board was buzzing and friendly; and people drifted out to the braziers whenever the drizzle held up.

I admit I had big expectations from the wine after the Digby Rosé we had in Wiltshire last summer (link). The glass did not pour with a huge mousse but I noticed that others did, so there may be a gentle trick that’s needed when pouring. The nose was pleasing but certainly not overpowering: hints of lime, citrus and elderflower.

I wasn’t expecting much of a zing in the mouth with the subdued bubbles but actually it was fantastic…a dry, refreshing acidity that was light and elegant and reinforced my ideas of the nose. The autolytic flavours were very slight and pleasingly, it was not a sweet finish.

I had to wait a while to get to speak to the very popular wine-makers, Trevor Clough, co-founder and CEO of Digby, and the “mad genius” wine maker Dermott Sugrue who are clearly passionate about their work.

I learnt that it was actually a suggestion from an English wine merchant named Burnes in the mid 1800’s that sparked experiments to reduce the amount of added sugar to make a drier champagne; and as I read later (Julian Hitner “Decanter” May 2015) “it was not long before British merchants began to request increasingly drier wines…and virtually all major houses were crafting dry examples, more or less in the ‘brut’ style, for the British Champagne market.”

Not surprising then that the Digby wine-makers have taken this English innovation to heart and created this delicious dry sparkling white.