Great wines need fabulous stories to support them. These may revolve around such things as historical cirumstances or success in the face of adversity, but they almost always involve some driven or colourful, individual(s). There are a fair number of characters doing their utmost to raise the profile of English wine, amongst which is Dermot Sugrue.
Born in Ireland, Sugrue studied at the University of East Anglia and then later at Plumpton College. After working vintages in Bordeaux, his big break into English Sparkling winemaking came in 2003 when he joined Nyetimber. He left them not long after the purchase by Eric Heerema, and joined the team at Wiston Estate around 2007. This new venture had at its core the idea that it would provide contract winemaking facilities as well as producing Wiston Estate wines. Sugrue is now responsible for 15 or so English sparkling wines which are not branded as Wiston Estate. These include English Sparkling Wines from East Meon, English Oak Vineyard and Jenkyn Place. Another of the contract wines is Sugrue's own label, Sugrue Pierre.
Fruit for Sugrue's own wine comes (in whole or part) from vines planted on the grounds of a Sussex monastery in 2006. Wine composition varies with vintage but is typically 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir with little or no Pinot Munier. Wines are fermented partially in stainless steel and part in old oak Burgundy barrels, which add structure and complexity to the wines.
The first Sugrue Pierre release was the 2009 which went on sale in 2013; two further vintages have since been released. Production runs are small at typically 6,000 bottles. Labeling and packaging are elegant with the black label sporting the tagline "The Trouble With Dreams".
The Sugrue Pierre Brut 2011 won the Regional Trophy for UK sparkling wine at the Decanter World Wine Awards, 2014.
Winemaker: Dermot Sugrue
"The Trouble With Dreams" Vintage Brut
Sugrue Pierre Cuvée Brut
Pale lemon; apple, brioche nose; dry, crisp, fresh acidity, gentle mousse, lime, stone fruit, creamy complex palate; long length, elegant (3 Sept 2014) Exceptional, 95/100