Interview: Wendy Outhwaite from Ambriel

Ambriel was won many awards for their superb English Wines. When you buy sparkling wine from us at Park Lane Champagne, Ambriel is what you are buying.  So, we thought you might be interested to find out more about Ambriel. We caught up with Wendy Outhwaite (co-founder) to discuss more about her scrummy wine.

Hi Wendy, Welcome to Park Lane Champagne Blog!

For those that don’t know you could you provide a little bit of background on yourself and the team at Ambriel?

A banker and a barrister walked into a bar …. No seriously, Charles (my husband and partner in wine) and I decided we wanted to make world class English Sparkling Wine. After a 5 year search for the perfect spot, we planted the vineyards in 2008 in West Sussex overlooking the South Downs. Over a decade on, with a lot of hard work, and with help from a lot of people, we have been lucky enough to win some serious medals in international competitions and we export our wines to various countries. It still gives me a thrill when I see someone pop and Ambriel cork though. We are proudly a family business, but we can only do it with the help of our fabulous team.

When did you realise that a career in winemaking was for you?

We have always loved wine and I now see the earlier part of our lives – when we used to just enjoy drinking wines – as a sort of long apprenticeship, training the palate. Oenological study is important of course, but just not quite as important as a total maceration in wine. So there wasn’t a single moment when I pulled off my wig and gown and stormed out of court declaring ‘ I’m off to be a winemaker’, but rather there was a gradual fascination – evolving into an obsession - with vines and wines and what they can do. That said, the winery is principally Charles’s domain. He is the winemaker, and together we decide the blends. Luckily we usually agree.

What’s an average day like at the Vineyard?

Right now its snowy and nothing is happening! During the growing season, there’s work to do in the vineyard every day: making sure each grape gets its little bit of sunlight and stays happy and healthy. Almost all the work is done by hand, so the team knows each vine pretty well. There’s usually lots going on in the winery too. We are perfectionists so its important to us to have complete control from grape to glass. In fact, the first time we let a bottle leave the estate is when someone buys it. Then from time to time we have tours, tastings and events – it’s a joy to show people around a sip a glass or two.

We are lucky enough to use your Ambriel Classic Cuvee, for our personalised sparkling wine. Can you tell us a little about this wine?

The Ambriel Classic Cuvée is a refined, elegant English Sparkling. Although its Non Vintage it is based on the 2014 harvest and has spent over 5 years evolving on the bottle lees. Its slightly Pinot Noir dominant and has a big open-armed welcome, enveloping you with red apple, strawberry and raspberry on a warmed brioche, finishing with a citrus zing. If this wine were a person, it would be Mr Darcy. It’s as refreshing as a plunge in his pond. Pairing food with wine can enhance the flavours and characteristics of the wine.

What are the key pairings for your sparkling wines?

I’m so glad you asked this. Of course, its delicious with the usual canapés, fish and seafood … but if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, try it with excellent charcuterie or cheese (especially comté). Just fabulous.

The last year has been difficult for everyone, but have you had any highlights at Ambriel?
We were delighted that the Ambriel Classic Cuvée NV was chosen by Decanter as one of their Wines of the Year 2020 (in fact, it came joint second with Krug 2006 of the Sparkling Wines). We’re also pretty proud of becoming carbon neutral. We like to do our bit to save the Earth – after all, it’s the only planet that has wine.
Thank you Wendy for your wonderful interview! If you are looking for a personalised bottle of Ambriel Classic click here


Photo Gallery: Tour of Ambriel Vineyard