Clink! 14 tasty local tipples
Kids are in school, everyone's still standing - just about – and it's the weekend. No other reason necessary to crack open a bottle of Berkshire's finest.
Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Bacchus, £12.99,
Stuck in a Sauvignon Blanc rut? Try this bottle of Bacchus, a lip-smacking alternative from Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Berkshire’s biggest and most famous vineyard. Bacchus – named after the Greek god of wine – is a refreshing and fruity dry white wine bursting with grapefruit and gooseberry flavours and a hint of sweet peach and passionfruit. We’re no experts but it’s absolutely delicious and won a silver medal at the 2020 London Wine Competition (judged by actual experts). Keep your eyes peeled for the stunning floral illustration on the label, and enjoy. Stanlake Park’s rosé is a pretty foxy choice too. Buy direct from the vineyard at £12.99 a bottle.
Stanlake Park Pinot Noir Rosé, £12.99
Another belter from Stanlake Park Wine Estate. This time a perfectly balanced dry rosé. Fruity, fresh and made from the vineyard’s Pinot Noir grapes it has been a smash hit all summer, winning bronze at the WineGB Awards. With its pale pink colour, and delicate and lingering notes of raspberry, red cherry and passion fruit, this is the perfect English Rosé Wine to enjoy well-chilled with aperitifs and light meals. *Wink wink* a limited edition of only 500 bottles are also available as a magnum. Snap them up, we reckon we’ve drink 100 magnums this summer.
Alder Ridge Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine, £32.99
Alder Ridge is a proper local affair – and the best-kept secret of the region. The vineyard at Cobbs Farm in Hungerford has been producing since 2013 after planting five acres of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. A further two acres of classic Champagne vines were added in 2015, all lovingly looked after by Jayne and Alison, who are in charge of all the farm’s crops. The 2014 Blanc de Noirs picked up gold at this year’s WineGB awards. This is the vineyard’s flagship sparkling English wine and is a bubblicious local alternative to Champagne. You can buy directly from the vineyard, or pop into Cobbs Farm Shops in Englefield and Hungerford.
All Angels Classic Cuvée, £37.50
All Angels is a small family-run vineyard in West Berkshire. The vines were planted in 2010 over three hectares, and the hand-harvested grapes are transformed into an excellent English sparkling by Emma Rice, Director and Head Winemaker of the established Hattingley Valley. Work is well on the way on a new vineyard on the site that will include varieties to produce still wines too. The award-winning All Angels Classic Cuvée 2014 – a great sparkling with a luxurious feel. Hop over to the vineyard’s online shop. Alternatively, pop into Muddy award-winning Inn At Home or SJ Wines – both in Newbury or The Naked Grape in Hungerford.
IN THE SPIRIT
Thameside Signature Blend Rum, £39, 70cl (ABV 40%)
Think Tom Hardy in Taboo, sauntering off his boat after a long, torturous journey with only a bottle of rum to keep him warm at night. *Ahem* While we can’t serve up Tom, we can offer you a seriously smooth Caribbean rum blended on the banks of the River Thames. Thameside Signature Blend is a Windsor-based small-batch rum produced to centuries-old standards found in London’s 18th century blending houses. Each of the rums used in this blend are made from scratch from sugar cane molasses using traditional methods, then left to age in oak casks. It’s bursting with Caribbean flavours: tropical fruit, banana, coconut, charred pineapple, subtle spices and light oakiness. Serve neat on the rocks or in a cocktail. It’s a quality tipple, m’hearties
Berkshire Botanical Dry Gin, £19.50, 50cl (ABV 40.3%)
The sartorial standards of our woodland pals is much higher than ours right now. But when you’re the face of an award-winning gin, the bar is high. Berkshire Botanical is just a year old and yet its Dry Gin snagged gold at this year’s wine and spirit Olympics, hosted by the IWSC. Created by Mr Gin himself, Johnny Neill (the man behind Whitley Neill and Marylebone Gin fame) this small-batch gin that uses nine botanicals (including Norway Spruce) found on the 9,000-acre Yattendon Estate in West Berkshire – one of the largest growers of Christmas trees in the UK. Berkshire Botanical also make three flavoured gins too: Raspberry and Rhubarb, Sloe and Dandelion and Burdock.
If you know Pinkneys Green near Maidenhead, you’ll know cricket is a big deal around these parts. While we won’t be bowled over by the village’s sporting prowess any time soon, we can enjoy a round of cucumber sarnies and the local tipple, Cricketers Gin. Three of this London Dry gin’s botanicals can be found on its doorstep – Wild Marjoram, Milk Thistle and Blackberries – which are then balanced with orange, spicy coriander and a hint of liquorice. Hop over to the website and shop til you drop, £37 for 75cl. Best served with 150ml of Fever Tree tonic to 50ml of gin with a slice of orange.
Royal Berkshire Pink Gin, £25, 50cl (ABV 37.5%)
Tickled pink? Then you need pink gin in your life. Flavoured gins are massive have seen a a staggering 751% rise in sales. But be warned, many are loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients, but not this one. Royal Berkshire Pink Gin is distilled on our doorstep and infused with British raspberries – giving it it’s fruity, fresh flavour and millennial pink hue. It’s also relatively low in alcohol so you could almost claim drinking this gin will make you skinny. That’s our story and we’re sticking tot it (*wink).
Lumber’s Bartholomew Gins, Country Garden, £42, £70cl (ABV 43%)
From an outrageously cool distillery and tasting room in The Newbury Pub, 137 Gin has got industry pros sitting up like meerkats. Four varieties were created – Country Garden, Navy Strength, London Dry and Berkshire Dry – and the awards keep rolling in. The Muddy fave is Country Garden, a blooming marvellous blend of floral botanicals that tastes like summer without a hint of soapiness, thanks to the dry herbal finish. Serve it up with lots of ice, Elderflower tonic and garnish with juniper berries and a sprig of rosemary.
Horse Guards Gin, £32.50, 70cl (ABV 42%)
Gallop to East Berkshire – Windsor to be exact – and you’ll get your marching orders to try Horse Guards London Dry with its classic combo of juniper, coriander, angelica, orange peel, grapefruit peel and cardamom. Named after the Horse Guards, part of the Household Cavalry (King Charles II’s elite heavies), this award-winning gin is refined, elegant and quintessentially British, and has been crafted to perfection. It’s almost guaranteed to put hairs on your chest and gloss on your hooves.
Highclere Gin, £37.95, 70cl (ABV 43%)
Highclere Castle Gin launched last summer and was even in the Baftas goody bag. Distilled above an ancient underground water source, Highclere Castle Gin is a traditional London Dry using a blend of botanicals grown on the Highclere Estate – juniper, obvs, with a hint of lavender, lime flower, and orange peel. It’s available online and in selected local Waitrose store – £37.95 for 70cl. Now, Carson, be a love and top us up, we’re gasping.
Beer goggles on
West Berkshire Brewery Detour, £22.24 for 12, 330ml
Brewery’s are the playground of beard stroking hipsters. The amber nectar produced and attention to branding prove there’s been a massive gear change. From the flavour to the artwork, it’s all a bit achingly cool. West Berkshire Brewery is a Willy Wonka factory of beer with staples and limited editions produced at a state-of-the-art brewery on an old dairy farm in Yattendon. Tickle your tastebuds with Mr M’s favourite – Detour, a pale ale with a citrus fruit and pine flavour.
Siren Craft Brew Soundwave, £2.10, 330ml
Siren Craft Brew was born out of boredom of the mediocre and flavourless beers on the market. These guys wanted to give the industry a kick up the arse, so they started a brewery and got busy making an IPA they loved. Now they have about 30 flavours all with puntastic names like Guava Script, Be Even More Pacific and my personal favourite, Much Ado About Muffin. One of their bestsellers is Soundwave – an Indian pale ale that’s full of fruity flavour and subtle with bitterness.
Uprising Caught By The Fuzz, £27.50 for 12, 330ml
Uprising is Windsor and Eton Brewery’s cool little brother – a place where brewing conventions are challenged and boundaries are pushed. Drawing inspiration from their travels and the people they have meet, each beer has a story to tell. There are currently five Uprising beers including Treason, Dreamquake and Caught By the Fuzz – a pale ale with with a big hit of peach and subtle spice notes.