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Five minutes with Corinne Seely, winemaker at Exton Park

Published:  31 May, 2022

Jo Gilbert catches up with Corinne Seely at Exton Park about 60 Below – a sea-ageing project which aims to take English wine to new frontiers

We’re the first English sparkling producer to work with sea-ageing specialist Amphoris, which offers a very special location at 60m below sea level off the coast of Brest in Brittany where the Channel meets the Atlantic.

This location generates a perpetual mixing of water which keeps a constant temperature of 10-13°C, like a natural cellar under water in complete darkness.

We aged our wines undisgorged, still on lees after their second fermentation in bottle – something that has never been done before and can’t be done in Champagne.

The pressure was six bars, both inside and outside of the bottle. I was very keen to understand what the effect of this, plus perpetual movement of the sea, would have on the wine. Would it become more gentle and balanced without the constraint of different pressures?

To measure the effect, we aged the same wine 60m above sea level on our estate and called it 60 Above. We like to think of the two wines as sisters, both aged seven years on lees with 60 Below spending 12 months under the sea.

There was a significant difference, with 60 Below being more complex, creamier with a clear autolytic influence. 60 Above offered a rich, incredibly smooth, long and savoury finish.

I love the idea that Exton Park is on chalk, formed by the sea, millions of years ago, and that we sent our bottles back to their origin.