Flint Vineyard Bacchus 2017

Flint Vineyard Bacchus 2017, 11.5%

(£15.99 from the winery or £16.95 at BBR)

The 2018 vintage will be a game-changer for many reasons in English and Welsh wine.

This was the joint warmest summer on record, with beautiful weather from June to August, and then a very gentle autumn.

The result is only now being assessed but initial reactions are very large quantities (perhaps three times as much as the frost-hit 2017) and very good quality.

It may well be a year in which we see more still wine than normal produced. Still wines do better in warmer years when they can reach greater maturity, giving more natural complexity and balance. (The grapes don’t need to be so ripe to make good sparkling wine.)

I was thinking this as I tasted, on a glorious autumnal English day, this delicious Bacchus while deep underground in one of Berry Bros & Rudd’s venerable wine cellars.

Flint is an exciting new operation based in south Norfolk. This general area, including the broader East Anglia, looks to have great potential, particularly for still wines, as it has some excellent soils and, more importantly, is one of the driest and warmest parts of the UK.

Winemaker Ben Witchell has been studying Bacchus so is something of an expert in this intriguing grape variety, which is becoming one of the UK’s calling cards. Although it can be made in a variety of styles, it tends to be pretty aromatic and with a crisp but succulent flavour profile.

This is the second vintage made at Flint and is a big step up from the first. The vintage gave low yields of ripe and clean fruit and Ben used a variety of winemaking techniques. The result is wonderfully complex and inviting, full of pungent herbal and gooseberry aromas, but followed up by a grippy, juicy, well rounded palate profile that is very classy.

Serious and complete, this is a real stunner, hinting at the great potential not just for Bacchus but also this area of the UK – not to mention English still wines in general.

(6.5-7/10, Peter, Oct 2018)