Cheers! Gawcott vineyard attracts Saturday Kitchen wine experts

Photos of the Chafor Wine Estate, Gawcott
Photos of the Chafor Wine Estate, Gawcott

A vineyard in Gawcott is producing wines of such high quality that it was recently paid a visit by prominent BBC Saturday Kitchen presenters and Masters of Wine Susie Barrie and Peter Richards.

Wine makers Tim and Stephanie Chafor, who own the Chafor Wine Estate, first came to prominence in the spring of 2017 when their 2014 Sparkling Vintage Rosé received a gold medal at the UK Vineyards Association awards, judged by Susie Barrie.

The Chafor Wine Estate in Gawcott

The Chafor Wine Estate in Gawcott

Soon after Susie was to write on her blog: “Although it is almost impossible to choose just one wine to recommend, I’ve gone for one of the less well-known of the gold medal-winning wines - Chafor Wine Estate Vintage Rose 2014 from Buckinghamshire.

“This is an elegant, pale salmon fizz that is a blend of two pinots.

“The nose is stylish and bready, whilst the palate shows great balance and class, with gentle red fruit flavours and hints of autolytic yeastiness - pretty classy!”

A chance encounter at a wine fair ultimately led to a visit from the TV stars.

Inside the Chafor Wine Estate in Gawcott

Inside the Chafor Wine Estate in Gawcott

Stephanie said: “Of course we jumped at the chance to show them around.”

She added: “Peter and Susie were so interested to find out more about our vines, when we planted them, what our passion was behind our love of growing and making wine and it was a pleasure to host the visit.”

Chafor is a family-run boutique wine estate that planted its first vines in 2003 and is set in 23,000 acres of Buckinghamshire countryside.

They have approximately 13,000 vines including the classic Champagne varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir alongside the more delicate and aromatic Madeleine Angevine and Bacchus - England’s signature grape.

Tim Chafor explained that he and his wife became interested in wine via they love of travelling: “How we got into it was doing the whole food and wine culture holidays.”

The English climate, chillier of course than more traditional wine growing regions in southern Europe such as Bordeaux or Tuscany, poses certain challenges but Tim says they can be overcome with hard work.

“We can’t just allow nature to take its course.

“We have to be very strict with our pruning and training” he said.

As well as their now famous sparkling Rosé, Tim and Stephanie also produce a sparkling white wine, two white wines (the Elegance 2016 is a zesty, mouth-watering stunner), a Rosé, and a brand new Red, the latter using imported grapes from Italy.

Tim expressed frustration at wanting to produce a red but having no grapes leftover from his current harvest, so importing them was the solution.

“They arrive in bunches in little baskets and they are as fresh as the grapes we grow here in Gawcott,” he said, adding, “we only released it two weeks ago but we’re pretty pleased with it.”

So he should be.

For such a young wine it is astonishingly complex and full-bodied – a real treat - and a credit to the hard work and skill that has clearly gone into producing it.

The vineyard is open to the public throughout the summer and offers guided tours and wine-tasting events.

To compliment the wine-tasting, the couple also have a home-made wood-fired oven where they produce paellas and pizzas.

“I never thought I’d be a commercial pizza cook” Tim said, laughing.

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