English Wine Week

Fellow Wine Lovers,

Congratulations to ultra-runner Sabina Verjee who this week smashed the record for the Lake Districts 214 Wainwrights. She finished the route, 325 miles, including 36,000 metres of ascent, in 5 days 23 hours 49 minutes and 12 seconds which is more than six hours quicker than the previous record! I don’t know about you but my legs ached just reading about it – Chapeau!

Meanwhile, high in the Ecuadorian Andes, scientists have discovered a new species of frog and named it after Led Zeppelin. At this stage it is unclear if Pristimantis ledzeppelin was discovered on a stairway, or just a ramble. Let’s hope it wasn’t trampled underfoot!

Dominic Cummings tried one of his interventions this week. I’m not sure much will come of it with the exception of my inner voice forever thinking of the Health Minister as being Matt Hopeless, a name I’m sure will follow him for longer than any of us will find funny. Just like that initially tall chap at school everyone called Stretch for years after we all caught him up in the height stakes.

The booze trade can be a funny old place, last weekend was World Gin Day, yet today it’s only lunchtime and I’ve already sold four times as much gin! Talking of gin, there seems to be much talk within the trade that all of the sweet fruity styles have had their day. In other news, we ordered a Pinot Noir for Christmas this week and we’ve not even reached the Summer Solstice.

Summer Solstice is, of course, next week (Monday as you asked) and the queue on the A303 will make its annual 24 hour long performance as everyone pops along to Stonehenge for some socially distanced dancing, glass of cider and to watch the sun’s perfect alignment through the stone arches.

Next week just happens to be English Wine Week as well. There are now 3500 hectares planted to vines in the UK, which is four times as much as in 2000. That produced 10.5 million bottles in 2019 (latest figures), of which almost three quarters was sparkling.

We have followed the development of the English Vineyards with a keen interest over the years and are finding that, as we move through time and vineyards get a handle on their terroir and the vagaries of the weather, the wines are getting better and better.  We thought this would be an ideal time to highlight what we’ve gone with so far…


Hawkins Bros Brut Reserve, Surrey, England – £30

We thought we’d start locally with this charming sparkler from just off the Hogsback, south of Guildford.  Made by Greyfriars Vineyard for Hawkins Brothers this is a traditional blend of Chardonnay (56%), Pinot Noir (22%) and Pinot Meunier (22%) with a fine mousse showing plenty of baked apple and creamy, biscuit notes resulting from over 3 years spent on its lees. 

Bolney Estate Classic Cuvée, Sussex, England – £28.99

Bolney were one of the first UK commercial vineyards, bought in 1972 by Janet and Rodney Pratt, with the first vines going into the ground in 1973. Since 1995, Sam, Rodney and Janet’s daughter, has been running the show. This Classic Cuvée is a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay. It has a lovely fine mousse, a rounded palate with notes of brioche, hedgerow fruits and a touch of bruised orchard fruit. Stylish and elegant wine with a lovely persistence.

Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé, Hampshire, England – £37

Hambledon have a history that stretches even further back than Bolney. First planted in 1952, winning awards in the 1960’s and by the mid 80’s served on the QE2 as well as various British Embassies and the Houses of Parliament. Sadly, in the 90’s, a change of ownership saw wine production come to a juddering halt and the grapes sold to other vineyards. Fortunately for our story, the estate changed hands again in 1999, more vines were planted and there is now around 200 acres and the UK’s only gravity fed winery. The wine? Well since you ask, its lovely, a blend of 90% Chardonnay with 10% Pinot Noir red wines mostly from the 2015 harvest, with tank-aged reserve wines added. We have a lovely strawberry fruited nose with hints of sour dough toast, a rich palate with again strawberry, a touch of tart cranberry and a creamy yeasty finish.


New Hall Vineyards Bacchus Reserve 2019, Essex, England – £14.49

The vineyards of New Hall are located just outside of Purleigh near Chelmsford. Considered completely eccentric when they started planting in the late 1960’s they are now home to some of the oldest plantings of Bacchus in the UK, certainly the largest (44,500 vines) and they provide grapes to a couple of well-known English Wineries that, frankly, are not very close to Essex. The wine has a vinous, limey nose that leads you into a fruit focused medium dry palate with a reassuring zing on the finish.

New Hall Vineyards Pinot Noir 2018, Essex, England – £22.99

We haven’t tasted many English reds that we thought were worth bothering with. This one was a different kettle of fish though, from vines planted in the early 1970’s, it has been tucked away for the last year or so to enjoy some bottle ageing. Dark cherry fruits on the nose and a really silky palate with a lovely balance (yes I said balance!) of those dark cherry fruits with a touch of spice and earthy notes. Obviously all this deliciousness has its downside in that only a small amount is ever made.

So, let’s make Friday Night Fizz a glass of English shall we?


Wayne & Alex

Comments are closed.