English Bacchus 2018

As the English wine bandwagon trundles steadily onwards and upwards, attention has been shifting from sparkling wine onto still.

While the quality of the fizz is no longer in doubt, many wine lovers seem to remain wary of the still wines.

Perhaps they’ve been scarred by dodgy bottles in the past – sour, thin, overly sweetened monstrosities good for powering eco-cars and not much else.¬†

But these days, the quality of English still wine is much improved and there are many delicious bottles to be had. They’re seldom cheap but the best can hold their own against international competition in the same context (as we’ve proved by many a blind tasting, both among experts and non-pros). They’re well worth getting to know.

One particular grape variety that’s been getting a fair amount of attention is Bacchus.

It’s not a well-known variety, having been bred in Germany to grow in sites where Riesling wouldn’t ripen. But it’s made a home in the UK and is the fourth most widely planted variety. It’s a USP of sorts and makes wines that can vary in style but tend to be fresh and lively, with a bright aromatic character and notes of elderflower, grapefruit and hedgerow. Some call it the England’s version of Sauvignon Blanc.

For this Decanter piece I selected 18 of my favourite Bacchus wines from the stellar 2018 vintage.

They include a sparkling, oak-aged and sweet versions, to give an idea of the diversity already out there.

Producers featured include Chapel Down, Camel Valley, Hush Heath, Bolney, Hoffmann & Rathbone, Winbirri, Lily Farm, Sutton Ridge, Laneberg, Woodchester, Aldwick Estate, Flint, Gifford’s Hall, Roberson, Bow in the Cloud, Chartham and Hattingley Valley.

[English Bacchus 2018 appeared in Decanter¬†magazine’s September 2019 edition]

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