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ENGLISH WINE

English Wine and why you should be drinking it now…

Seemingly English wine has been a fairly recent craze, however there have been vines planted on English soils since at least the Roman times! Whether we can blame it on climate change or a general rise in wanting to buy local, we're seeing more and more of it, and England is now producing some 6 million bottles a year, including some world-class sparkling wines, elegant Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays and an increasing range of other grapes and styles, even Pet Nat and English Orange Wine.

Some producers are also experimenting with natural and organic production which is not easy in a fairly wet and marginal climate like ours, even with the help of rising temperatures. With recent hot summers and increasing supply and demand, English wine is set to become a staple in everyone's wine rack and in some cases, the drinking is very good indeed. We have a few we are very proud of........

PRODUCER FEATURE: THE PIONEER, WILL DAVENPORT

Will Davenport was one of the first to do organic and natural wine in the UK, since 1991 in fact. He farms several plots of vines of varying age in southern Kent and northern Sussex, the heartland of UK wine production.

Will is very serious about sustainable wine production and every measure is taken to be look after the land and to have a minimal impact in terms of water use and carbon footprint.

ORGANICS

Will uses solar power to run his farm, minimises irrigation (helped by natural farming as soils retain water much better and roots go deep to alternative water sources), hand harvests, encouraging biodiversity on the farm and he bottles using lighter weight bottles and natural cork which helps support cork forests.

No herbicides, pesticides, filtration, and very limited fining (sometimes a little bentonite but no animal products so all wines are vegan) and very limited sulphur mean Will is truly a 'Natural Wine Maker' and for two decades has shown the way in the UK where many still believe organic production is not possible.

THE WINES

We love his wines as they are clean, elegant, not funky (well apart from the Pet Nat!) and have a very definite English feel. We would go so far as to say that Will's still white wine wine Limney Horsmonden is THE benchmark white from English varieties and a quintessentially English character with fresh, spring aromas Elderflower and hedgerows.

The Davenport Sparklers are some of the best in the country and are still at very accessible prices for Champagne alternatives.

We salute you Mr Davenport!

PRODUCER FEATURE: ALBURY VINEYARD, MODERN DAY CLASSICS FROM THE SURREY HILLS

NICK WENMAN - Living his dream!

Albury Vineyard is the result of Nick Wenman's passion for quality wine.

Nick planted the vineyard in 2009 having retired from the IT industry to fulfil his dream of owning a vineyard. Nick believes that key to the sucess of the wines is the vineyard's committment to organic and biodynamic principles, together with excellent winemakers and his talented vineyard manager Alex, one of the few female vineyard managers in England.

Albury Vineyard is situated on the southern slopes of the North Downs in the beautiful Surrey Hills, just outside Guildford, and grows traditional Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, as well as some Seyval and Pinot Gris. They now make a variety of sparkling wines, as well as a small amount of still White and Rose. The wines are delightfully clean and classic, pure crisp flavours and fabulous elegance.  Albury production is tiny and the wines tend to disappear fast as they are creating a real following for their delicious, 'modern day classic' English wines.

PRODUCER FEATURE: TILLINGHAM WINES/SUSSEX VINEYARDS

TILLINGHAM - NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Tillingham is a fantastic project run by Ben Walgate in East Sussex. It is situated off a winding country lane on a slope leading down to the Tillingham River which meanders down to Rye.

Ben has already set about using organic compost across his five acres, and he plans to introduce sheep onto the land in the spring to help naturally control cover crop and weeds. He's even experimenting with biodynamic preparations (such as 500) so as to improve the health of his soil. Now here's a man who's serious about natural wine making!

In all Ben has planted around 10,000 plants including thirteen English and International grape varieties. His style is experimental, preferring natural methods and a 'try-it-and-see' approach, which is yielding some great results from this budding winemaker. Great to see such passion and instinct from English wineries.