Ben grew up on a farm on the Lincolnshire Wolds, and his immersion in rural life from a young age has had a strong influence on his approach to wine… an interest which in turn was derived after visiting his first vineyard in Burgundy (one that is now certified biodynamic) aged 22. He knew immediately that he wanted to work with wine and immersed himself in various parts of the trade including winemaking and vineyard management, import and sales. His goal, however, was always to realise the original dream of owning and operating a small farm with a vineyard at its core. The farm he has found to start this project totals 70 acres, on which he intends to farm livestock and agroforestry as well as the vines, of which five acres or so are going in to start with, with up to 30 acres possible in due course.
Ben is known for creating wines in Georgian qvevri vessels, this is what makes Tillingham unique. The Tillingham Col 2018 is produced in Peasmarsh East Sussex at the Tillingham vineyard. It’s set amongst 70 acres of rolling hills and woodlands with far-reaching views along the Tillingham River valley and across to the fortified, hill-top town of Rye, East Sussex, to the sea and the Romney salt marshes beyond. Tillingham is committed to farming in a diverse, poly-cultural way, they believe this is not only a highly sustainable approach but in conjunction with biodynamics, aims to restore soils to an optimum level of organic matter and microbial and wider ecological diversity Ben Walgate was formerly CEO of Gusbourne wine estate in Ashford.
The grapes were grown on the East/Sussex Kent border, which is one of the driest and sunniest parts of the UK. The vines for this wine are located at the foot of the slope and sheltered by trees that offer some shade. The area benefits from coastal proximity which helps prevent spring and autumn frosts and ensures a longer growing season. The fruit was sourced from local growers in Kent and East Sussex. Terroir: combination of chalk and clay soils.
Col is short for Col Fondo, the Italian term which describes the “Ancestral Method” of re-fermentation in the bottle without disgorgement. This wine blends of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, part fermented in oak barrels, before bottling in the spring with a small addition of sugar, which is then refermented by wild yeast. The 2018 Col is a lovely pale gold colour with a and slightly hazy (undisgorged) appearance, the Col has very soft small bubbles. Aromas of toasty, creamy baked apples are contrasted by fresh acidity and a dry long finish.