Ben and Hannah Witchell are the dudes behind Flint Vineyard, which is based in south Norfolk. They caught the wine bug and went off on a year travelling around the wine world. Then they came back and Ben decided that he’d like to make wine, so he did a degree at Plumpton. After this, they moved to Beaujolais for a couple of to get some experience, before moving back to the UK.
Where should they work? Rather than follow everyone else to Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, they moved to East Anglia, which is the driest and one of the sunniest parts of the country. There, they entered into a partnership with local farmer Adrian Hipwell, and have established a vineyard in the Waveney Valley on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.
They’ve now got 15 acres (6 hectares) of vines in the ground, and they are currently doubling production every year, working with other vineyards in East Anglia (Humbleyard in Mulbarton, Great Whitman’s Farm in Essex, and Martin’s Lane Vineyard near Chelmsford). At the moment, about a quarter of their production is from their own site, but this should rise as the vines mature. In 2019 they processed around 40 tons.
They have a particular interest in Bacchus. In 2016 Ben won a grant from the Eastern Agri-Tech Growth Initiative for research and development work on Bacchus, which is a cross between Riesling and Sylvaner. This has led to some interesting insights on this variety, which is important for the UK. Not least amontb these insights is that Bacchus isn’t as close to Sauvignon Blanc in style as people thought. Most of us drew a parallel between the exotic aromas of Bacchus and those of New Zealand Sauvignon, assuming that Bacchus also had lots of the polyfunctional thiols that Kiwi Sauvignon is known for. Instead, it turns out that Bacchus aroma is more about terpenes, with support from other classes of aromatic compounds such as esters.
Flint Vineyard Bacchus 2018 England
Aromatic and fresh with lovely elderflower and herb notes. The palate is crisp and elegant with some green notes and lovely acidity. Juicy and zesty with nice purity. 91/100
Flint Vineyard Silex Blanc 2018 England
55% Pinot Noir, 45% Solaris. There’s a slight creamy edge to the linear citrus fruit, with a hint of vanilla and nice focused ripe fruit. Stylish. 89/100
Flint Vineyard Pinot Noir Precoce 2018 England
Also known as Fruhburgunder, this is a really nice variety that deserves to be taken more seriously. Supple, fresh and very pretty with nice red cherries. Quite silky and elegant. Shows lovely poise and supple red cherry fruit. Very fine. 91/100
Flint Vineyard Charmat Rosé Brut 2018 England
Four different varieties. Bright pink in colour, this is crisp, bright and vivid with lovely citrus notes as well as cranberry and red cherry. Linear and pretty with great purity. Lovely stuff. 90/100
Website: Flint Vineyard; UK agent FMV
Find these wines with wine-searcher.com