Each year, English Wine Week reminds us to celebrate the bold, tenacious and incredibly talented winemakers taking on some of the most established wineries in the world. But you shouldn’t wait for the national wine campaign to try out a glass – and possibly finish the bottle. Here’s why…
Newcomers to the world of wine production, English vineyards are typically small and family-run. They are determined to put England on the international wine map, so prioritise quality and use minimal intervention, allowing the unique character of the English terroir and climate to shine through.
Generally speaking, the colder weather is perfect for sparkling wines made in the classic Champagne style and a Classic Cuvée is a nice introduction to the possibilities of English wine. This climate also creates grapes with more acidity that generally age well, so there are some really good vintage sparkling wines hitting the market.
However, the red, white and rosé wines emerging from UK vineyards are also well worth a try; 2016 was a particularly good harvest across the UK, with grapes offering rounded fruit character, so you shouldn’t go far wrong with something from this year.
For something more ‘English’ tasting look for the Seyval grape on the label, recommends Lucy Letley from Surrey’s Albury Vineyard.
Martin Fowke, Winemaking director at Three Choirs Vineyards says there are some very interesting 2017 bottles coming along, especially the rosés and Bacchus.
Here are other recommendations from five wine experts pouring you a glass at some of London’s best restaurants…
1. Hambledon Classic Cuvée, £28.50
“This sparkling wine is lively. It is floral and yeasty with hints of smoke and red apples on the nose; vibrant and precise. Juicy ripe fruit is balanced by crisp structure.”
Nacho Campos, Hawksmoor
Located in Hampshire, Hambledon vines are grown in chalk soils and they use minimal intervention.
2. Gusbourne Estate Brut Reserve, £35.00
“Based in Kent, Gusbourne are consistently passionate about exercising sustainability throughout their winemaking process, and produce some highly respectable, minimal-intervention Bruts as a result.”
Charlotte Wilde, Sager + Wilde
Approachable and balanced, the Brut Reserve is a classic blend three grape varieties – the Chardonnay acting as the structural component, Pinot Noir bringing body and the Pinot Meunier adding floral and fruity notes.
3. Davenport Limney Rosé, £24.50
“It goes well as an aperitif or savoury hors d’oeuvres.”
Carolina Mello, Duke of Cambridge
Davenport have 24-acres of organic vines across East Sussex and Kent. This rosé is one of their newest wines, first produced in 2014. It’s a blend of Chardonnay grapes (again for structure) and Pinot Noir giving the light rose colour. Drink slightly chilled on a summer’s day.
4. Ambriel Sparkling, English Reserve, £32.50
“A great new house making exceptional wine and really embracing the dry, crisp mineral and linear style of English sparkling. Ambriel age their wines before second fermentation which makes for added complexity and they own all their own vineyards so have full control of sustainable practices.”
Kelvin McCabe, The Frog
Named after the stereotypical reserved character of us Brits, this is possibly the only English sparkling Demi-Sec on the market. Its sweet and creamy character is ideally paired with desserts or for celebratory toasts… wedding season is upon us!
5. Coates & Seely Rosé, £31.95
“Blending classic Champagne grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this is an elegant rosé with notes of wild berry. It has spice and structure and a fantastic acidity. Coates and Seeley has a low intervention approach, using minimal fertilisers and pesticides and pioneering the concrete egg for the fermentation process in the UK. It’s a great showcase for the natural talent of the British climate and soil.”
Filippo Pastorini, Sushi Samba
The concrete egg is a great design because it creates heat that encourages the fermenting wine to move around naturally, keeps the temperature stable without needing artificial cooling and it has tiny pores that allow oxygen to come into contact with the wine to soften the tannins.