Interview with Tiléri Charles-Jones from Poulton Hill Estate

6th March 2020


To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th March, this week we are interviewing women in the world of producing English sparkling wine.

Tiléri Charles-Jones is Managing Director of Poulton Hill Estate.

Poulton Hill Estate is a small family-run vineyard in the Cotswolds, it is situated in the idyllic Cotswold countryside, near the Roman town of Cirencester and Regency spa town of Cheltenham. It was founded in 2010 and produces limited batches of wine from grapes harvested by hand.

How did you become involved in the wine industry?

When I was 20 I worked for Mark Savage MW and Stephen Eggerton in Northleach where I learnt a great deal about wines from all over the world.  With Mark and Stephens help, I made contact with vineyards and wineries in South Australia and Victoria and soon headed out there to gain some hands-on experience. When I arrived at Reschke vineyard in Coonawarra I met the viticulturist, Mary Kennedy who became a dear friend but also mentor. I was shown briefly how to do the winter pruning and we promptly sent off to run the pruning crews alongside the vineyard manager! I was truly thrown in at the deep end but adored it. I worked in wineries also but kept finding the outdoors and vines too much to resist.  I love the unpredictability of viticulture and the fact that ultimately Mother Nature has the final say. It’s humbling and you come to truly appreciate natures power – you can do what you can to protect the vines but there is only one true boss!

What has been your hardest obstacle to overcome in producing wine?

Mother Nature. We work hard to nurture the vines from the winter pruning to tucking in and canopy management, but one late, hard frost after bud burst or a hail storm just before harvest can destroy all that work. Those are only two examples of what can go wrong during the growing season there are many, many other factors we try to prepare for and prevent such as pests and disease.

What has been your proudest moment in the wine industry?

When we won the Quality Drink Award for Sparkling Wine over £10 with our 2012 Sparkling White. We were against the likes of Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer, Asda and many more big names who had access to wines from all over the world. When we went up to collect the award we saw the Aldi head buyer ask who we were, the other head buyer shrugged. We were absolutely thrilled to win such a prestigious award and category.

Poulton Hill Estate Bulari Sparkling White 2016 won a Silver Medal in the Zesty & Zingy Category at The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly Awards 2019.

How do you see the future of English sparkling wine?

The future is extremely bright but not without its challenges. While we are getting more and more recognition for producing amazing quality sparkling wines made using the traditional method (the same as Champagne) we still have a lot of educating to do outside the UK.

We also have the challenge of consistency given we are still a cooler climate country so our yields vary.  Example, we picked 22 tonnes in 2018 and only 12 last year. However, where we (the UK) may lack in quantity we definitely make up for it in quality!

Hard question, but do you have a favourite Poulton Hill Estate sparkling wine?

I love our Bulari Rosé 2015 – it is wonderfully fresh and fragrant with hints of rose petal on the nose and an extremely elegant, pale pink appearance. This wine has a delicate mousse with alluring flavours of passion fruit and hints of orange on the palate leading to a dry, crisp finish.

What is your favourite food pairing with one of your sparkling wines?

I adore going to one of our clients in Cirencester, Malt & Anchor, for fish and chips with a glass of our Bulari White 2016. The sparkling wine cleanses the pallet, cuts through the grease and compliments the fish flavours. Simple yet delicious.

Where’s the most memorable place you’ve enjoyed a Glass of Bubbly?

Marangu, Tanzania, February 2007 after summiting Kilimanjaro for the Countryside Alliance – the bubbles were refreshing as well as a wonderful sensation from seven exhausting days hiking. I savoured each sip!

Glass of Bubbly

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