What to drink: 9 English wines to taste
We don't need English Wine Week to celebrate our local wines! Here three Surrey wine merchants share their favourite English tipples. Ready, steady, glug!
Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc
This beautiful wine comes from Simon Woodhead’s West Sussex vineyard and is a Pinot Blanc variety that seems ideally suited to England’s climate. It is delicate pale lemon in colour, with aromas of honeydew melon and pear. White stoned fruits and sweet fennel tempered by zesty acidity and subtle spice can be found on the palate – a very well balanced, juicy wine.
Fox & Fox Meunier
This small batch sparkling wine comes from Jonica and Gerard Fox of Mayfield, Sussex. It’s made from 95% Pinot Meunier and 5% Chardonnay, and only 1,647 bottles were produced! With citrus lime top notes followed by orchard fruit flavours and a hint of brioche, this wine is very pure on the palate with a refreshing acid backbone and good mineralogy.
Gusbourne Brut Reserve
From Gusbourne’s Appledore estate in Kent comes this delicious best-selling wine, a sparkling combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier. It is a bright golden colour, with rich citrus fruits on the nose along with candied lemons and mandarins, fresh red cherries and golden apple flavours on the palate. It’s so good, that it’s frequently served at Buckingham Palace!
Available in store at The Grape Variety, Chipstead and Walton-on-the-Hill
THE EXPERT: Nik Darlington at Pip of Manor Farm, Seale
Black Chalk Classic 2017
Last year’s multiple award-winning English sparkling wine (gold medal at the IWSC, Best Newcomer at WineGB Awards and best in show at the IEWA) is back with a bang with the new 2017 vintage. Probably the most talked-about English fizz in the land over the last 18 months, and a Pinot Meunier dominant blend from the chalk soils of Hampshire.
Jenkyn Place Blanc de Blancs 2015
Jenkyn Place is just down the road from us in Bentley and we’ve always been impressed by their distinctive style, typically keeping wines back longer than others so you get to experience and enjoy well developed vintages in peak form. Their 2015 Blanc de Blancs is an utter triumph, all toasty and luxurious, and was awarded an impressive 94 points in the recent May issue of Decanter magazine.
Greyfriars Pinot Gris 2018
Coming from perhaps the greatest English vintage of all time, 2018, this is our favourite still wine from our nearest vineyard, Greyfriars, on the Hog’s Back. Their Pinot Gris is richly fruited, dry and with a great backbone, a really versatile, top quality white for summer.
THE EXPERT: Callum Edge at Taurus Wines, Bramley
Bolney Estate Lychgate Bacchus 2019
The family-owned Bolney Estate can be found on the edge of the Sussex Downs and a mere hop, skip and jump down the road from Taurus Wines. Crisp, with its characteristic hedgerow and nettle flavour, Bacchus has been adopted as England’s signature grape variety and makes for a splendid alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. This zippy white would be an admirable partner to cold cuts, white fish or asparagus.
Sharpham Estate Pinot Noir 2019
Red grapes can sometimes struggle to reach the ripeness needed to make dependable still wine in England. Not so, however, on the banks of the River Dart, where Sharpham’s west-facing vines bathe in plenty of afternoon sun. Savoury and elegant with a strawberry and cranberry character, we would drink this with anything mushroom-based.
Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV
Hambledon – in Hampshire, as opposed to the Surrey village around the corner – is most famous for being the birthplace of cricket. But it’s also the location of the first commercial vineyard planted in England. This particular cuvée caused quite a stir when it scored more points in a blind tasting than some of the most famous Champagne houses.