What to drink: The best English wine
It's English Wine Week so we've tapped up a couple of wine experts to find out which local wines are in their cabinets. Here are six English wines to try.
THE EXPERT: Nik Darlington at Pip of Manor Farm, Seale
Sov’ran Ortega 2018 – Kent
Ambitious and pragmatic wines like this are the future of still wines from England. We have quite deservedly long been regarded as world class for sparkling wines but the still variety suffers from identity crises, variable vintages in our marginal climate and stigma. Winemakers in England need to identify the right grapes for the right place and time, then shoot for the stars because if they do then they can compete pound for pound with wines from more established wine regions. Like Sov’ran’s Ortega from a vineyard in Kent, using a grape (Ortega) long frowned upon but here demonstrating the awesome fruit profile and balance it can achieve in a great vintage and in skilled hands.
Black Chalk Wild Rose 2018 – Hampshire
Hampshire winemakers Jacob Leadley and Zoë Driver have knocked it out of the park with this sublime sparkling pink from the Test Valley in Hampshire. The Wild Rose is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay from the vineyards around the winery, just outside Stockbridge. The 2018 vintage was perhaps the greatest England has ever seen, resulting in the magical combination of high yields and high quality. Black Chalk is always focussed on the latter and this shows in spades. A truly celebratory pink English sparkling wine from the most celebrated small sparkling wine producer in the country.
Greyfriars Pinot Gris 2019 – Surrey
From just up the road on the slopes of the Hogs Back comes one of the best white wines in the country. It is a classy, aromatic Pinot Gris (a grape best known for white wines of Alsace) that will be a match for even richer dishes but especially delicious with full-flavoured salads this summer.
Stoppam Estate Pinot Blanc – Sussex
A lovely white wine from Simon Woodhead’s West Sussex vineyard made from 100% Pinot Blanc which produces a very Alsatian version of the grape. This variety seems ideally suited to England’s climate.
Stoppam Estate Bacchus – Sussex
Another beautiful still wine from the Stopham Estate , this wine is made from 100% Bacchus , one of England’s favoured variety used for still wine production. Some say it’s the UK’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc having very similiar grassy and herbaceous characters.
Stoppam Estate Pinot Gris – Sussex
The motto of Simon Woodhead at the Stopham Estate is precision, passion, craft and sustainability – probably coming from his days as a Formula One parts designer. This white wine comes from six hectares of vines planted in 2007 near Arundel in West Sussex with a mixture of varieties. The vineyards are all south facing for maximum exposure. The wine is off dr , pale lemon in colour, with aromas of ripe peach and pear.