An exotic vineyard vacation is not the only way you can enjoy a bottle or two of some excellent vintages this summer. From sophisticated Squerryes to Chapel Down chardonnays, a strong production run of several years means that the choice and diversity of English wines on the market is better now than ever before.
England was once a nation of consumers rather than producers, but with growing investment and the emergence of serious viticulturists, English wine has come into its own over the recent years. As sales of local wines climb rapidly, we are discovering that homegrown grapes can make exceptional wines that do not cost a fortune.
With some doubt still looming over the prospect of international travel this summer, many holidaymakers are turning to options closer home, such as staycations at local vineyards. Whether your idea of a staycation involves scenic walks in the countryside or cold cuts by the pool, there is a homegrown wine to go with it.
True to its name, this Westwell white from Kent is aged for ten months in a terracotta amphora made by the Artenova pottery in Florence. The terracotta amphora is a traditional winemaking vessel used for thousands of years in the past. A handful of innovative winemakers in Bordeaux and Champagne are now experimenting with it again. The Westwell amphora is the first of its kind to be used in the UK and gives a bouquet of distinctive fermentation flavours to the wine.
There is candied peel and grapefruit on the nose with a long and honeyed floral finish. The delicate peachy aromas and hints of rhubarb complement the bracing acidity of this bone-dry wine and add depth to its zesty character. Pairs perfectly with seafood, white meats, and tapas, or can be enjoyed on its own.
A fresh and clean bottle of one of the best homegrown vintages to date, the Hattingley Still White will also appeal to fans of Chablis. The hints of old oak barrels add only a touch of spice to the palate.
Pale lemon in colour with a soft green hue, the Chardonnay bears pronounced grapefruit and citrus aromas. There are notes of blossom, honey, and pear, and a dash of green apple flavours. The creamy texture finely balances the natural bright acidity and the long dry finish. A perfect pairing for barbecued monkfish or chicken and a standalone star of alfresco drinking.
The Hush Heath Estate is a key player within the English wine industry and has an impressive repertoire of both still and sparkling wines. The 2019 Nannette’s Rosé is their silky smooth Provenҫal–style rosé made especially for English summers.
The delicate pink wine is made from a blend of six grape varieties, all cool-fermented separately and rounded off with a typical Balfour herby finish. The Regent, Dornfelder, Meunier and Pinot Noir provide a soft fruity character while the Chardonnay and Bacchus grapes impart a freshness and aroma. Traditional rosé flavours of stone fruits and strawberry combine with fresh acidity. A crisp and light accompaniment to green salads, fresh seafood, and soft or blue cheeses.
The UK’s cool climate is not ideal for red grapes, but a number of vineyards are managing to cultivate some lighter varieties that are perfect for the summer. The Bolney Estate in Sussex, for example, produces some of the finest red wines in the country.
Their 2019 pinot noir is an elegant, medium-bodied vintage with red berry juice (think perfumed strawberry jam), dark cherries, hints of spices, and vanilla on the nose. The flavours are complex. Soft tannins and an elegant acidity add to their depth. A bit of rustiness can be discerned under the surface from a short rest on oak during fermentation.
A versatile pairing for smoked fish, pork, and game birds, as well as a good fit for grilled asparagus and soft cheeses like Brie.
Ridgeview are one of England’s foremost sparkling wine estates. Their wines have been served at prestigious national occasions like royal banquets, The Queen’s 80th Birthday celebration, and Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.
The Blanc de Blancs Brut 2015, as such, is excellent value for money. The dry and acidic wine offers generous sherbet-like tree fruit on the nose, classic citrus aromas, and a yeasty toasty character. The palate offers a balance of elegant mousse and saline minerality. A perfect complement to shellfish with lemon butter.