English wine time!

(By Susie Barrie MW and Peter Richards MW)

B9bTU9KIMAAtNIyTo mark English Wine Week, which runs from 23-30 May, we’ve put together some delicious wine recommendations, as below.

It’s a great time to be drinking English. The 2014 harvest was a bumper one – remember the good weather last year? Production reached 6.3 million bottles, up 43% on 2013, the result of a bountiful harvest and the ongoing rise in vineyard plantings.

In timely fashion, Susie has a piece in this month’s Decanter magazine shining a spotlight on the increasingly fascinating and delicious English sparkling wine scene – also highlighting her top 13 home-grown fizzes in the process.

We’ll be publishing the article in PDF format on this site in due course alongside a much fuller list of her scores and tasting notes featuring more than 40 English sparkling wines, the result of several trips and big blind tastings. Keep an eye out for that one.

There are lots of events around the country marking English Wine Week. What’s more, Peter’s on Saturday Kitchen this weekend, and he may have the odd wine surprise up his sleeve…

For all these reasons and more: cheers!


NB: Marks & Spencer, which has just expanded its range of English wines, currently has 25% off when you buy six bottles or more (until 8th June).

Still whites & rosé

Chapel Down Flint Dry 2013 (£9.99, Waitrose, Majestic) – wonderfully easy-going, moreish white with engaging flavours of elderflower and pear. Ideal for summer drinking. If the sun would ever come out.

Denbies English Pinot Noir Rosé 2013 (£7.50 down from £13 with 25% off 6+, Marks & Spencer) – well worth snapping up a few of these for the summer at this price. It’s refreshing, very gluggable English rosé that worked very well with Diana Henry’s Turkish chicken on one of our recent Saturday Kitchens.

Lamberhurst Estate Bacchus Reserve 2014 (£9.75 down from £13 with 25% off 6+, Marks & Spencer) – Bacchus is like an English take on Sauvignon Blanc so think of this as Sancerre with a home-grown twist. It’s pretty zingy and fresh, with loads of elderflower and gooseberry character. It works brilliantly with food, too, from goat’s cheese to asparagus and shellfish.

Litmus White Pinot Noir 2011 (£16.50 down from £22, M&S) – there aren’t too many white wines made from Pinot Noir around but this is a barrel-fermented version that’s nutty and complex. Well worth a try.

Chapel Down Chardonnay 2011 (£70 for 6 down from £83.94, www.chapeldown.com) – such an elegant and stylish wine that’s both refreshing and well rounded. Chapel Down’s talented young winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire is a Chardonnay fan – and it shows. Wonderfully pure Chardonnay, with flavours of green apples, herbs and a hint of cream. Like a cultured cross between Macon and Chablis.

Bottles,-WistonSparkling wine

Ridgeview Marksman Brut Blanc de Blancs 2010 (£19.50 down from £26, M&S) – tons of joyous brioche and roasted apple flavour. Fresh on the finish, very English, but beautifully made.

Wiston Estate Rosé 2011 (£35.95 wistonestate.com, The Wine Pantry, Theatre of Wine, Noel Young Wines, Corney & Barrow, local independents)Wiston is a producer we rate very highly, and this elegant, characterful wine is typical of their style. (As is the beautiful bottle and label, designed by the inimitable Stranger & Stranger.) Lovely wild berry fruit.

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2007 Late Disgorged (£59.99 Selfridges, Fortnum and Mason, Lea and Sandeman, Field and Fawcett, St Andrews Wine Co. etc) – very much a special occasion bottle, but what style and class! Rich, hedonistic and complex, it’s stunning stuff.

Davenport Limney 2010, East Sussex (£24-28 Davenportvineyards.co.uk, Les Caves de Pyrenne, Vintage Roots, Vinceremos, Able & Cole, The Wine Pantry, The English Wine Co., Butlers Wine Cellar plus other independents)organic wine that’s both rich and fresh. Lovely savoury style, well worth trying.

Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée 2011 (from £25.65, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, The Wine Pantry, Oxford Wine Company, Corks Out and local indies) – really stylish fizz from a beautiful part of Dorset. Generous but with tangy acidity and a long, lingering finish.

Court Garden Blanc de Blancs 2010 (£29.50, www.courtgarden.com) – quite restrained and elegant in style. Wonderfully nutty, bready style. Quintessentially English.

Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2012 (from £24.26, www.camelvalley.com) – it’s a richer style, with a fair bit of sweetness to it, but also lovely notes of biscuit and red fruits.

Jenkyn Place Brut 2010 (£26, Caviste) – it looks like Waitrose have the 2009 of this wine on offer at £19. It’s a classic marriage of fresh apple and yeasty character. Very pleasant.

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009 (£23.98 down from £35, Majestic) – lovely classic character of brioche with red apples. Plus that vivid acidity that underpins all our best fizz.

Hambledon Classic Cuvée (£28.50, Berry Bros & Rudd, Fareham Wine Cellar, Caviste) – it’s an invigorating, fresh style with succulent flavours of pear and fresh bread.

And finally, because we couldn’t resist:

Hattingley Valley Entice (£15 for half) – indulgent sweet wine but with a lovely bracing acidity balancing it out. Something a bit different by way of a sweet treat this spring!

Twisted Nose Watercress Gin (£29.99, The Naked Grape, Toscanaccio, Fareham Wine Cellar) – beautiful gin made in our neck of the woods. They also make an excellent Wasabi vodka, perfect for Bloody Marys.