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English Week coming up!

MADE IN BRITAIN - English Wine Week, - 28th May - 4th June

Why, where wine is concerned, this is no longer the badge of shame it used to be!

If you were to offer a glass of English wine to a Frenchman (or woman), they’d quite possibly wet themselves laughing. Bad enough offering them a glass of Italian wine, but English? That said, the English wine scene is currently undergoing an explosion not seen since the arrival of the Normans in 1066: our sparkling wines are rivalling Champagne, our whites are found on the lists at top restaurants around the country, our reds are giving the Burgundians a run for their money and our pinks are proving a massive hit. Even the Welsh are at it now!
It’s really been since the 1950s that vineyards have regained a place on British soil. Prior to that, we had been quite instrumental in importing and cellaring wines from across Europe but hadn’t really been growing since the dissolution of the monasteries. A combination of better growing conditions, better disease management and a public more accepting of the differing styles that can be produced here have made this possible. Varieties that can be succesfully grown here include Muller-Thurgau, Bacchus, Huxelrube and of course; Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the sparkling diamonds of the grape world.

The climate and terroir really isn’t that dissimilar to that of the Champagne region - and vine growing land comes at quite a cost over there - so it comes as no surprise Champagne houses are now looking over here themselves. English growers have also really set themselves apart with a fine eye for quality. English wines can be found on l’Enclume’s Michelin star list, at the Wildsmith Hotel group including the newly opened Forest Side in Grasmere, and many other top restaurants and hotels. Winemakers such as Davenport, and Ancre Hill in Wales have even gone organic and biodynamic. Global warming will have to do a bit more work before we start producing English Cab Savs or Zinfandels, but the variety that can be found here already is astounding.

English Wine Week seeks to remind us that you don’t have to look across the channel to find good quality wines. With an increasing awareness of shopping locally and supporting local agriculture, we need look no further than Kent for Gusbourne’s rich barrel fermented Chardonnay, or a stunning sparkler from Henners. Some of our favourites include the naturally produced Davenport Horsmonden estate white wine, fermented with wild yeast (one of only a handfull in the Uk making 100% natural wines) from organic fruit, it is a blend of Bacchus, Huxelrube and others.  With its fragrant elderflower aromas and crisp, fruity palate, it really is English summertime in a glass; the Silent Pool Rosé (new vintage just in!) from Albury Vineyards is elegant and crisp with wonderful summer fruit flavours; and the Gusbourne Estate 2010 Blanc des Blancs, offers creamy mousse, tart apple and toasty notes, winning acclaim from some of the most exacting critics. Watch this space for Ancre Hill’s Sparkling Blanc des Blancs, which spends 5 and a half years sur lattes, and Davenport’s deliciously ripe Pinot Noir.

David Weale

Delicious natural Sparkling from Davenport Vineyards! Delicious natural Sparkling from Davenport Vineyards!