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The A-Z of wine: B - Bacchus

For the second in our A-Z series, I’ve chosen to talk about Bacchus, a lesser known grape variety that has played a big role in the success of English wines of late.

Bacchus is a variety made by crossing the Sylvaner X Riesling hybrid with Muller-Thurgau, which was first developed in the Pfalz region of Germany in the 1930s. It’s a pretty hardy grape variety which tends towards high sugar and early ripening, which is perfect for Britain’s marginal climate, and as a result is now the 4th most planted grape in England. Grown elsewhere and its lack of acid can lead to flabby wines, but here, the cooler temperatures and shorter ripening season ensures that the fresh acidity is retained, producing wines which have been likened to Sancerre and other crisp Sauvignons.

It's still mostly found in blends, and is one of the varieties that makes up the extremely popular Davenport Horsmonden dry white, but there are some vineyards which produce single variety wines from the grape, with Chapel Down even experimenting with a skin contact.

England is increasingly being recognised, not just for its excellent sparkling (with Tattinger and other well known Champagne houses buying up land over here), but also for its still whites and reds, with over 3 million bottles now produced every year. So if you haven’t yet dabbled in some of our home grown, I’d recommend you give it a go!