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General Manager James Mead reveals the secret to creating an award-winning blend
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Meet the Producers: Roebuck Estates

General Manager James Mead reveals the secret to creating an award-winning blend
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By: Erin Irwin

Roebuck Estates
Meet the Producers

Roebuck Estates

General Manager James Mead reveals the secret to creating an award-winning blend

Shop Roebuck Estates

By: Erin Irwin

Our Meet the Producers series is a testament to the skilled artisan makers behind Liberty’s delectable food and drink offering. Each month, we’ll spotlight a different British brand, giving you the chance to get acquainted with some of the finest micro-producers this nation has to offer.

Roebuck Estates are an award-winning English sparkling wines producer, with vineyards across the beautiful County of Sussex. Born out of a passion for great wines and a desire to champion homegrown English produce, they offer a wide variety of individual sparkling wines made with meticulous care and attention, using a harmonious blend of classic Champagne grape varieties. We sat down with General Manager James Mead to discuss the winemakers recipe for success.

Can you tell us a bit about Roebuck Estates and how it all began?

Roebuck Estates was the brainchild of two friends whose shared love of wine and fondness for the beautiful county of Sussex inspired them to establish what we now know as Roebuck Estates. Their aim is to craft sparkling wines to rival the very best in the world and then take them to a global audience. We have a collection of vineyard sites spanning the width of Sussex, taking advantage of not only its warmer weather, but also the huge variety of soilscapes that lie within.

Where are you based?

We are based just outside the quaint little village of Tillington, a stone’s throw from the picturesque West Sussex town of Petworth. From our office we have the most stunning views towards the South Downs and the majority of our vineyard sites are located nearby.

We are incredibly fortunate to have a terrific group of talented, knowledgeable and experienced individuals who make up our vineyard team.

What is the most important date in your wine making calendar?

To pick just one date is almost impossible. Rarely a day goes by that doesn’t throw up a challenge or bring creativity to the table. In the vineyards we work season to season and are at the mercy of the Great British weather which means the teams have to be on their toes at all times to deal with any eventuality. The winery team have their busy periods too, be that harvest, bottling, labelling, or packing the wines – they have to be incredibly flexible to roll with the punches, but the final product is worth it in the end.

What does your production team look like?

We are incredibly fortunate to have a terrific group of talented, knowledgeable and experienced individuals who make up our vineyard team. They are the secret behind the quality of our wines. Out working in all weathers with meticulous care and attention to detail, they strive for perfection as well as being our eyes and ears in the vineyards.

Can you talk us through your production process?

Our philosophy is very much based around quality at every stage of the winemaking process. We have a fantastic vineyard team dedicated to growing the best fruit possible at our sites which we wholly own and manage. This gives us complete control throughout the growing season, and we can be absolutely certain that only the finest grapes are carefully harvested by hand and sent to the winery for pressing. Moving on to the winemaking process, we work in close partnership with world-class winemakers to craft our classic sparkling wines. Following a secondary fermentation in bottle, our wines are aged ‘on lees’ in temperature-controlled cellars for a considerable amount of time to give additional character and complexity to the blends. They then spend several months on cork before release to give them a chance to settle down and show at their best when they reach the wine lovers’ glass. Nothing is left to chance here – every single stage of the process has a huge amount of dedication and thought put into it – we hope this translates to a brilliant end product.

The number of times that we might blend, taste, tweak and discuss is limitless in the pursuit of greatness.

What is the secret to creating a great blend?

The one thing that we look for when creating our blends is balance. At any one time we might have almost 100 different blending components at our disposal, and it is amazing how a 1% shift from one grape variety to another can make or break a wine. As a team we have over a hundred years’ experience working in the wine industry. And we have differing but exacting palates, yet we only finalise our blends when we are all happy with the finished product. The number of times that we might blend, taste, tweak and discuss is limitless in the pursuit of greatness!

Classic Cuvée 2014

Tasting Notes:
Rich, yet pale lemon in colour.
Notes of citrus fruit and cooked apples are layered with a toasty richness and hint of truffle.
Delicate bubbles linger on the palate leading to a beautifully balanced finish.

2020 Winner of ‘Best in Show’ Trophy at Decanter World Wine Awards

How does your brand philosophy reflect sustainable practice?

This is something which has always taken a front seat in everything that we do and drives many of our day-to-day decisions. From ensuring continual improvement in our sustainable practices in the vineyards to investment in state-of-the-art equipment, there is nothing that we will not explore. As a founding member of the Sustainable Wines of Great Britain certification scheme, we are wholeheartedly committed to minimising our environmental impact and maximising biodiversity where possible. We aim to ensure that all our suppliers share our sustainability vision too. Those that have visited us will have seen the sheep which we have on site and act as living lawnmowers during the winter months when the vines lie dormant. This is but one of numerous sustainable practices which we have in place.

Can you tell us about your awards and what they mean for your brand and the growing English sparkling wine industry?

Despite the fact that we are supremely confident in the underlying quality of all of our wines, discovering that they have won such a lot of awards and at an incredibly high level in only a short period of time has really been beyond our wildest imagination. Our 2014 Classic Cuvée scooped silverware in two global wine competitions; the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2020 and Hong Kong Wine & Spirit Competition back in 2019. Also, our 2016 Rosé de Noirs, which marks our debut sparkling rosé release has just won two prestigious trophies at this year’s International Wine Challenge. The importance of these awards for the team is simply to reenforce the belief that we are on the right path. Allied to this, we hope that it gives consumers confidence to try and continue to enjoy our wines for many years to come.

Rosé de Noirs 2016

Tasting Notes:
Delicate rose-pink in colour with fragrant aromas of wild strawberries, white peach and rose petals.
A vibrant, expressive palate displaying notes of ripe red fruits, honeysuckle and white blossom.
Beautifully balanced with a bright seam of acidity, a fine persistent mousse and a long, yet elegant length.

Winner of a Gold Medal and ‘English Vintage Sparkling Rose’ Trophy at International Wine Challenge 2021

What is the ideal way to serve sparkling wine?

There are a few important tips that we give wine drinkers to help enhance their sparkling wine moments at home whilst enjoying our wines. Firstly, glassware is very important – flutes or more specifically tulip shaped glasses with a slight taper accentuate the wonderful array of aromas that our wines have and encourage a slow release of bubbles. We also recommend that our wines are chilled for a prolonged period in a cold fridge, ideally for 3-4 hours, and brought out a few minutes before opening so as not to serve them too cold – the colder a wine, the more the complexity of character is masked, and we don’t want that with our wines.

Why did you choose to stock at Liberty?

Liberty has always been synonymous with luxury, craftmanship and seeking out the new and beautiful. As a relative newcomer onto the English wine scene and a producer of handcrafted quality sparkling wines, we feel that Liberty is the perfect partner for us. We are utterly delighted to be their sparkling wine of choice and join a curated collection of the finest handcrafted British products.

Lastly, what’s next for Roebuck Estates?

With every vintage release we are beginning to carve out our own unique sparkling wine styles. We aim to create wonderfully individual wines that are a true expression of the incredible sites that we have here in Sussex. And we are hugely excited to see our collection of sparkling wines evolve and grow as we continue to craft a world-class range of the finest English sparkling wines.

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