Afternoon Tea | January 13, 2016 | Drink
Step aside Chablis:
eight English vineyards to watch
Gone are the days when simply name-dropping a few wine regions – Chablis, Chianti or Bordeaux – was to identify a big velvety bold from a piquant with a fragrant nose.
But in a tough global market, English wines are now breaking rank with their European counterparts and hot-footing it towards a healthy harvest of world-class awards. Profiting from an exceptional year, which has seen 6.4m bottles produced, English vineyards have reached unchartered territory, surpassing anything we’ve ever seen in this country.
Here’s a handful of homegrown wines winning acclaim in the wine world:
Ridgeview, East Sussex
Fizz-lovers will welcome this splash of Sussex delight. The award-winning Grosvenor, Fitzrovia and Cavendish are among the most popular bubbles here, with notes of biscuit, honey and strawberry to rouse the palate.
Our choice: The Ridgeview Bloomsbury offers freshness and finesse, making it the perfect accompaniment to shellfish and canapes. An elegant celebration wine.
Image source: RidgeviewWine/Facebook
Much-feted as one of the more renowned vineyards – but don’t let its popularity put you off, there’s plenty to celebrate here. Denbies is a wine-buff’s paradise, with seven acres of footpaths to meander through and multi-award-winning wines to indulge in. If that’s not enough to tempt you, try their tour, on England’s first vineyard train.
Our choice: Dessert wine Denbies Noble Harvest has won accolades for its citrus and honey flavours.
Image source: Denbies/Website
Chapel Down, Tenterden
Boasting a bounty of awards, this vineyard is set squarely in the garden of England and plays host to its own acclaimed on-site restaurant, The Swan. Chapel Down claims that it resists the baggage of tradition, to offer wine for the discerning modern palate.
Our choice: The Chapel Down Flint Dry, with a hint of citrus, greengage, apricot and floral aromas is one best-loved by the buffs.
Image source: ChapelDown/Website
Carr Taylor, East Sussex
Family-run Carr Taylor is now run by Alex Carr Taylor, whose parents, Linda and David, planted the vineyard when he was a toddler. Alex literally grew up among the vines, giving him a huge depth of experience that shows in the company’s products.
Our choice: Carr Taylor ginger wine has two gold Great Taste Awards to its name. Drink alone, mix into a whisky mac or use it to spice up desserts.
Image source: CarrTaylor/Facebook
Nyetimber, West Sussex
Nyetimber is devoted to the holy trinity of champagne grapes: chardonnay, pinot meunier and pinot noir.
Chief wine-maker Cheri Spriggs loves to wax lyrical about her collection, describing a complex blend as ‘a symphony with more octaves in the soprano and alto sections than the bass’.
Our choice: Fancy a hint of short-crust pastry in your glass? Look no further than the Nyetimber Rosé. Full and round but with a soft texture, it’s great for entertaining with wine-wise guests.
Image source: Nyetimber/Facebook
Three Choirs, Gloucestershire
Being one of England’s oldest vineyards doesn’t mean Three Choirs is stuck in the dark ages. In fact, it is winning modern awards with a set of unique processes which have won it an international following.
Image source: ThreeChoirs/Website
Camel Valley, Cornwall
With a spot on the sun-drenched slopes along the Camel River, could this be the most idyllic setting for a vineyard? It’s certainly been mooted. Shortlisted in 2014 for international sparkling winemaker of the year, the secret of Camel Valley’s success is simple, says owner Bob Lindo: top quality produce.
”You’d be surprised how many customers say they first tried a glass of our wine at Tate Modern in London and felt they just had to come and visit the vineyard,” he chuckles.
Our choice: Hedgerows and apple orchards make for a truly English toast, with the award-winning Cornwall Pinot Noir Rose Brut.
Image source: CamelValley/Website
Ryedale Vineyards, North Yorkshire
Halting the debate over any north/south divide, one of the latest wineries to bag a handful of prestigious awards, Ryedale Vineyards, is the brainchild of Stuart Smith, who argues that owning one of the country’s northernmost vineyards doesn’t hamper the harvest:
“You can grow grapes if you have a good site and warm, sunny conditions,” he asserts, “We have good summers like everyone else.”
Our choice: Summerhouse Red is a light, berry-tinged wine for those in the know.
Image source: Ryedale/Website