Wales is commonly associated with rugby, choirs, deserted beaches and spectacular countryside. But not wine. So, it will probably come as a shock to many, that one of our most delightful recent discoveries is Ancre Hill Estates in Monmouthshire.
The 12 hectare vineyards on two sites surrounding the farmhouse are now 15 years old and the owners Richard and Joy Morris – ably assisted by their four children including David (pictured) – are producing some fabulous wine from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The land was previously used for grazing, so the soil is healthy, having never been drained by agricultural activity.
We like Ancre Hill’s use of biodynamic methods and the manual intervention in the process. Among the steps that go into creating the winery’s still and sparkling wines is the addition of raw milk as a vine treatment. The antiseptic properties and enzymes that incorporates mean the winemaker is able to control fungal growth and provide essential nutrients to the plant.
No pesticides and herbicides are used in the winemaking, making it a painstaking process that ensures great wine and a vineyard that is a safe environment for flora and fauna.
The wines comply with all the requirements for DEMETER certification, a guarantee of high-quality biodynamic products made in a way that ensures integrity and sustainability. The standards are reaffirmed each year by DEMETER inspectors.
Production times are typical of natural wines, involving a lengthy process, and we think that patience pays off in several of Ancre Hill’s offerings. We particularly like the Chardonnay which is vegan, light in alcohol and great for drinking right now.
While many people will be surprised at the thought of the Principality producing top-notch wine, we would borrow a line from gravel-voiced Welshman Tom Jones to suggest that in the case of Ancre Hill, ‘It’s not unusual’.