Our ‘other Eden’ is traditionally associated with He-Man coloured tea, warm bitter and lashings of ginger beer. Doesn’t really fit in with the romantic mythology that surrounds winemaking does it?
But things are changing. The uniquely zingy, nettly white wines and bubbly produced in England today are making the rest of the world sit up and take note. Yep, even Champagne. Isn’t it time you got to know the elegance, diversity and sheer deliciousness of English wines?
Principal grapes: Bacchus, auxerrois, pinot blanc, phoenix, chardonnay and pinot gris for whites. Pinot noir, dornfelder, pinot meunier and triomphe for reds.
Read on for our Five to Know facts on English wines to get you started. Still want more? Click here for our definitive guide.
Five To Know – English Wine
Hambledon Vineyard & House - Hampshire
The jewel in England’s winemaking crown. Sussex and the South Downs ? once part of the same chalky land mass as Champagne itself ? shows perfect ‘fizzicality’ for making bubbly. Grapes include chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier to make world-renowned premium bottle-fermented sparklers.
English white wines tend to lean on the dry side and show a natural acidity and crispness while young. Many display an attractive nettley, hedgerow freshness about them that is peculiarly English and – in our opinion – delicious!
These typically display lovely strawberry notes, with a touch of sweetness to balance out their refreshing acidity. They make a lovely partner for a huge variety of foods from a summer picnic to mild curries.
These are rarer, presenting more of a challenge in terms of achieving full ripeness. But advances are being made here too as producers experiment with different varieties and vineyard sites for optimum ripening. Dornfelder, rondo and pinot noir grapes look most promising for the future.
A growing industry
There are now more than 400 vineyards planted in England totalling some 1,500 hectares. This includes a 75% increase in the last six years alone. The majority of vineyards are found in the southern counties of Sussex, Kent, Gloucestershire and Hampshire. However, some can be found as far north as Yorkshire.