Freedom of the Press: an exciting new English winery
Gavin Carver established Freedom of the Press winery in 2020. Initially, it was to be an urban winery in Oxford, but Covid caused a change of plans and now he’s making the wines in the Cotswold countryside, where he found an ideal base. But the model is the same: no vineyards, just buying in grapes, and making the wines with minimal handling, in a range of vessels including some clay and concrete, as well as barrels and stainless steel.
‘The aim is to make small quantities of high quality still wines,’ says Gavin, who sources the fruit from vineyards in Essex that are particularly good for still wine. Consultant help comes from John Worontschak, but the wines are made in Gavin’s small winery.
In the debut vintage he made a Bacchus (sold out), a pink Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend (sold out) and these two wines: a Pinot Gris and a Chardonnay. Production was 4500 bottles, growing to 7500 bottles in 2021.
Wines are available from the winery, plus Oxford Wine Company and Tivoli Wines (Cheltenham).
Freedom of the Press Pinot Gris 2020 Essex, England
Fruit from Martin’s Lane Vineyard, Crouch Valley, Essex. Harvested at 97 Oeschle. Destemmed (not crushed) and then pressed. 70% fermented in stoneware (pythos shape), 30% fermented in old oak (undergoing malolactic), and then matured all together for 8 months in stoneware. Beautiful fine aromatics with mandarin, cherry and some lemon peel. The palate shows lovely texture with some citrus, a touch of grapiness, nice purity and real complexity. There’s lovely depth on the mid-palate, with a rounded, fruity quality. So pure. 92/100 (£19.50 from winery)
Freedom of the Press Chardonnay 2020 Essex, England
Fruit (4 clones) from Martin’s Lane Vineyard, Crouch Valley, Essex. Harvested at 93 Oeschle. Destemmed (not crushed), then pressed and fermented in 3 year old French oak, inoculated with a mix of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and also non-Saccharomyces yeasts. This is complex and mineral, with a finely spiced thread as well as keen acidity and crystalline lemony fruit. There’s lots of flavour here: pear, lemon, apple and even a touch of hazelnut, with a nice tapering finish. Really stylish and nicely poised, showing good complexity. Such a lovely acid line. 93/100 (£24 from winery)
See also: The Crouch Valley, an exciting English wine region for still wines