Charles Outhwaite is an investment banker and his wife Wendy is a former barrister and QC. Both Oxford graduates, they decided to take on a new challenge of becoming English Sparkling wine producers.
In 2006 they purchased Redfold Farm in West Sussex which had been used for sheep rearing and has both Nyetimber and Nutbourne Vineyards as near neighbours. The purchase included 16 ha of land which has evidence of late Iron Age and early Roman occupation. They planted 30,000 vines, mainly Chardonnay together with lesser amounts of Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier over 9.5 ha in 2008. The first harvest was in 2010.
The winery was established by the Outhwaites in 2010, with the first wines being made with assistance from two other winemakers. South African Kobus Louw, who had previously worked at Kent Vineyard, joined Ambriel as winemaker in 2012. Current plans envisage that Ambriel wines will only be produced using fruit from the Redfold vineyard, making it a true estate wine. There are no plans to undertake contract winemaking using the Ambriel winery facilities.
The Ambriel Classic Cuvée, with 24 months on lees, was first released in June 2013. It has since been awarded Silver medals at the International Wine Challenge (2014 and 2015) and at the International Wine & Spirit Competition (2014).
In 2014 Ambriel released two additional wines, both based on Pinot Noir grapes from the 2010 harvest. They differ in their dosage with the English Reserve (production 1,000 bottles) being a demi-sec style with 29g/l dosage. This was one of the wines selected to represent England in the "Battle of the Bubbles" blind wine tasting against New Zealand in February 2015. The Ambriel brut Blanc de Noirs received a Silver medal at the 2015 International Wine Challenge.
Ambriel (named after the angel) has acquired an excellent reputation and cult following in a very short period of time. With every likelihood that its best wines still lie ahead of it, this is very much a winery on which it's worth keeping a very keen eye.
(Images © Ambriel Sparkling)
Redfold Vineyards LLP
Tel: 01798 813657
Winemaker: Kobus Louw
Ambriel Classic Cuvée
Ambriel Blanc de Noirs
Ambriel English Reserve