5 epic English wines: from bubbles to Bacchus
Pop the cork! It's English Wine Week, so no excuse needed to raise a glass to five local producers wine experts of loving right now.
Love wine? Hell yes – and that love affair certainly peaked during lockdown. This week you might want to swap your go-to plonk for something made on home soil. Well, it is English Wine Week (19-27 June). It would be rude not to.
A warmer climate, soil not dissimilar to the Champagne region, and a serious amount of investment has got the wine industry sitting up like meerkats. So we got our friends Fiona Hayes and Katherine Dart of Berkshire-based Grape Nectar to reveal the English Wines they’ll be raising a glass this year. Over to your Fiona for your fab five…
Hambledon is England’s oldest commercial vineyard, so it makes sense that the vineyards are in the prime location to make decent wine. The grapes are grown on the same soil as that in Champagne and this helps to produce some of the best English sparkling that you will taste. The cherry on the cake is that you can dine in the vineyards, fancy getting married or doing a spot of yoga amongst the vines, then take a look at their website.
One to try: Splash out then their Première Cuvée, it’s simply delicious. Available: Waitrose, Fortnum & Mason, Majestic
Relative new comers, this once arable farm located in Sussex has been transformed into a rather impressive vineyard, with the first vines planted in 2012. With South facing slopes on chalk soils and only three miles from the coast, these are perfect conditions to grow grapes for their sparkling wines.
One to try: Their Classic Cuvée, which is a vintage bubbles that benefits from a generous 36 months on lees is delicious and a go to at Grape & Nectar when looking for a fizz to drink. Available via Grape & Nectar or direct through the Rathfinny website.
Run by husband and wife team Ben and Hannah Witchell, you’ll find this Norfolk-based producer in the Waveney Valley. Ben learnt how to ‘throw out the rule book’ while working in Beaujolais, France and has brought his knowledge and passion to Flint Vineyard where he mainly focusses on still wines – it’s well worth seeking out.
One to try: If you love Sauvignon blanc then the Bacchus will be right up your street, the flinty soils give the structure of a Sancerre, but the winemaking style is similar to New Zealand examples. Available from Corrk, grape britannia or via Flint‘s website
Voted UK winery of the year in 2019 by Wine GB, Harrow & Hope is one to watch. Based in Marlow, local to where Katherine of Grape & Nectar is based, we love the fact that this is a small, family owned business, growing high quality grapes on a single vineyard plot and fermenting the wines in small batches.
One to try: We’d recommend their Blanc de Blanc. Available direct from their website
It would be amiss of us not to include Kent in our best pick line up, and Gusbourne Estate are the growers leading the way. Although they have vineyards in Sussex, the majority of the grapes come from the clay and loam soils of Kent. Their talented winemaker, Charlie Holland is responsible for making a mix of still and sparkling wines that really are deserving of being crowned English Wine Producer of the Year by the IWSC on numerous occasions.
Need wine advice, contact Grape & Nectar who can curate, introduce you to new wines via their monthly wine subscriptions boxes and can source bottles for your mini cellar or event.
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