Since I arrived in the UK in 2008, the reputation of English wines has not stopped growing. More and more consumers are aware of the quality of English estates such as Nyetimber and Chapel Down leading the market. During the past 15 years however, a fair amount of boutique wineries have emerged and improved.
We now hear a lot about English sparkling wines, but winemakers have proved that England is capable of also producing very good still wines.With over 400 vineyards planted in UK, there certainly is plenty of choice!
Here are my top five English wine recommendations below. It was a difficult choice to make though with so many incredible wines to choose from:
Wiston Wine Estate Goring NV
Based in the South Downs, the estate has been in the Goring family since 1743. The 16 acres of chalky vineyard were planted in 2006 with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This is an outstanding non vintage, fresh with a great minerality, aromas of fresh apple, citrus and very well balanced. I discovered this estate fairly recently, and for me it is one of England’s rising stars. www.wistonestate.com
Ridgeview was established in 1994 in Sussex and released its first wine in 1996. Knightsbridge is a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This wine has a rich palate of ripe stone fruit with a creamy texture and a long finish. I do like riper styles of Champagne in general, and this wine is definitely to my taste. www.ridgeview.co.uk
Chapel Down Bacchus 2014
Bacchus is a cross of Silvaner and Riesling itself crossed with Müller-Thurgau. And what better name could have been given than the name of the Roman god of wine? The cooler English climate allows this grape to retain a higher acidity than in Germany, where it was created in 1933. This wine is a bit a Sauvignon Blanc with notes of citrus, fresh cut grass, a touch of tropical fruit and a lively acidity. A great match with a cold pea velouté. www.chapeldown.com
Gusbourne Estate Pinot Noir 2011
The story of winemaking at Gusbourne dates back to 2004 when Andrew Weeber took over the estate and planted the first grapes in the same year. Their first releases were their Brut Reserve and Blanc de Blancs 2006. This Pinot Noir is without a doubt the best English red wine I have tasted. It has a ripe and juicy palate with flavours of ripe red fruit, a hint of smokiness and spices. The palate is very well balanced and offers a great complexity. www.gusbourne.com
Nyetimber Demi Sec
Since its establishment in 1986, Nyetimber has been regarded as one of the leading English estates. They produce wines which have received several awards, but I think that the Demi-Sec is one of the most interesting in their range. The Chardonnay base gives a lovely creaminess to the wine as well as aromas of very ripe white and stone fruit, confit citrus and a touch of vanilla. We don’t usually find lots of those off dry sparkling wines, but this in undeniably a great wine to have with an afternoon tea or a light dessert like an Eton Mess. www.nyetimber.com
Try more of my favourite English wines at our English wine school on Wednesday 4th March when I’ll be focusing on estates in Southern England from Kent to Cornwall. Discover more about this wine school. Just £30 per person. also browse our long list online containing a variety of fantastic English wines to enjoy.
Head Sommelier at The Vineyard