We think Ben Walgate's Tillingham project is one of the most interesting and exciting in the UK right now. He popped into our world with his zippy (and eye-catching) 2017 Pet Nat - a tart, rhubarb-fruited sparkler - and since then he's put out a small, well executed selection of wines, ranging from barrel-aged Chardonnay to Ortega matured in Georgian-style qvevri that Ben has had installed in his cellar. In this time he's also generated a huge demand for his wines. Following in the footsteps of British producers Ancre Hill and Davenport (in Wales and England respectively), Tillingham is all about embracing the natural approach; from well-sourced fruit to manual production, spontaneous fermentations and judicious use of additives in the wine. Soon he will use fruit from his own organic estate vineyards that are currently approaching maturity.
If you forget what you read here you'll be pleased to know the wine is fully explained in bold text screen-printed onto the back of the bottle. Our take is that Col is an experimental bit of fun playing the ideas of Champagne and Prosecco off of one another. The grapes are the classic Champagne trinity, but go through the Ancestral rather than Champenoise method, meaning the fermentation starts in the tank and finishes under closure in the bottle, resulting in a looser, lower-pressure of bubbles. The wine is not disgorged, a style the Italians call 'col fondo' and from where the wine takes its name. Col fondo wines have a natural haze from the lees left in the bottle, which also adds a depth of flavour to this potentially green, cool-climate wine. Col is tart and light, and at 10% alcohol, the perfect start to any meal, including breakfast.