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Bacchus, Chapel Down, Kent 2020

White Wine from England
Fresh, fragrant Bacchus from Chapel Down in Kent with aromas of grapefruit, melon and toasted lime and a bright, fresh, rounded palate from the wonderful 2020 vintage.
Price: £83.50 Case of 6
Price: £13.95 Bottle
In Stock
Code: EN1681

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Dry
  • Bacchus
  • 12.5% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2022
  • 75cl
  • Screwcap

England

Thanks to a combination of warmer, drier summers, better understanding of soils and micro-climates, and heavy and intelligent investment in vineyards and wineries, English and Welsh wines are now better than ever.

There are now more than 500 vineyards planted totaling over 2,000 hectares, with a 75% increase in the last six years alone. Because of our northerly latitude and maritime island climate, site selection is crucial. Not surprisingly, the majority of vineyards are found in the English southern counties of Sussex, Kent, Gloucester and Hampshire though there are some found as far north as Yorkshire.

Styles of wine

English and Welsh wine producers as a whole continue to make major improvements to their wines, but it is the producers of premium sparkling wines which have received the most accolades in recent years, blazing a trail for the industry as a whole to be given the serious attention it deserves.


Sparkling wine - This is a major growth area for the UK with our climate...
Thanks to a combination of warmer, drier summers, better understanding of soils and micro-climates, and heavy and intelligent investment in vineyards and wineries, English and Welsh wines are now better than ever.

There are now more than 500 vineyards planted totaling over 2,000 hectares, with a 75% increase in the last six years alone. Because of our northerly latitude and maritime island climate, site selection is crucial. Not surprisingly, the majority of vineyards are found in the English southern counties of Sussex, Kent, Gloucester and Hampshire though there are some found as far north as Yorkshire.

Styles of wine

English and Welsh wine producers as a whole continue to make major improvements to their wines, but it is the producers of premium sparkling wines which have received the most accolades in recent years, blazing a trail for the industry as a whole to be given the serious attention it deserves.


Sparkling wine - This is a major growth area for the UK with our climate well-suited to the production of sparkling wine which accounts for 66% of total output. But it is the premium, bottle-fermented wines that have made the rest of the world sit up and take notice. Sussex and the South Downs are perfect for growing the classic mix of Champagne grapes, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. The South Downs are actually on the same geological formation (limestone on top of a sandstone belt) that continues down through the east of France to Champagne. However, this type of soil is not everything and many vines for top bubbly made over here are grown on very different, often clay-based soils quite different from the Champagne-like calcareous formation, and our climatic conditions seem to be just as important, if not more so.

The best sparkling wines give the Champenois a good run for their money and are better than many Champagnes. We currently buy top-quality premium sparklers from Nyetimber in West Sussex, who with 400 acres are the largest producer of the style in the UK, and Ridgeview in Ditchling Common, Sussex.

Dry white - Reflecting changing tastes, wines made here are increasingly made on the drier side, helped along by warmer summers and improved techniques in vineyard and winery. Still dry white wines show a natural acidity and crispness in their youth. They tend to have a certain nettley, hedgerow freshness about them that is peculiarly English and most attractive. Such wines now represent 24% of all English wine production, Still

Rosé & red - This is style that is also increasing in popularity and one at which the UK can excel, rosé again shows well in its youth, often with attractive strawberry aromas and just a hint of sweetness to balance out the acidity. Reds are a minority as they tend to sometimes lack the necessary ripeness to allow them to show at their best unless our summer and autumn weather is particularly benign. Advances are being made here too though, as producers experiment with different varieties and vineyard sites to find which ripen best where. Front-runners are dornfelder, rondo and pinot noir but at the moment, none has impressed sufficiently and prices are rather high so we have not yet selected any to offer to members.

Wine labelling - English and Welsh wines are produced and labelled under a Quality Wine Scheme which was established in 1992. They are classified in ascending order as table wine, regional wine or quality wine.

Grape guide

Faced with a blank canvas, what vines should a grower on these islands plant? Many of the varieties planted have German origins, partly because it was originally German-trained winemakers who helped UK growers with advice and expertise. It was also felt that these varieties would have better success in such a northerly latitude and, in the 1970s, when there was a resurgence of wine growing in this country, German wines were in their heyday. It is vital to choose early-ripening varieties with good resistance to fungal disease; many of those that have had success are in fact hybrids, again developed in Germany.

Today, there is a patchwork of a multitude of different varieties found in the vineyards of England and Wales. With one or two notable exceptions, these are generally blended together to create wines with a real point of interest and difference from those found elsewhere in Europe. As many of the grapes will be unfamiliar to members and because they rarely appear on their own, so may be difficult to get to know, we provide the principal characteristics below.

More recently, and line with the success of sparkling wines on these shores, pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier have been planted extensively and continue to be so.
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Chapel Down

Chapel Down is one of England’s most successful wineries, whose first vineyard in Tenterden, Kent, was planted in 1977. It is now the largest UK wine producer, making a range of Champagne-style sparkling wine and aromatic white, red and rosé wines, and has won a plethora of accolades. The Tenterden vineyard is home to its state-of-the-art winery, headed by winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire who gained experience in wineries in Alsace, Champagne and South Africa.

The south-east of England is blessed with a cool, maritime climate and a wide varieties of soils and slopes with which the Chapel Down team can match the appropriate grape varieties to their ideal conditions. As well as its Tenterden vineyard, it now also has a large vineyard in nearby Aylesford, but it also sources fruit from trusted growers on the South Downs of Sussex, the chalk downlands of Hampshire and other areas in Essex and Kent.

The 9 hectares at Tenterden are on clay loam over sand on south-facing slopes. Here, the team plants pinot noir (used for the red and rosé as well as sparkling wines), pinot blanc, chardonnay and bacchus, a relatively new grape variety perfectly suited to English viticulture, some of which has been planted here since 1987.

At Aylesford, the Kit’s Coty vineyard is planted exclusively with the chardonnay and pinot noir used for Chapel Down’s sparkling wine, thanks to its ideal, gentle, south-facing slopes of chalky, well-draining soil. So far 30 of the 45 hectares are planted, leaving room...
Chapel Down is one of England’s most successful wineries, whose first vineyard in Tenterden, Kent, was planted in 1977. It is now the largest UK wine producer, making a range of Champagne-style sparkling wine and aromatic white, red and rosé wines, and has won a plethora of accolades. The Tenterden vineyard is home to its state-of-the-art winery, headed by winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire who gained experience in wineries in Alsace, Champagne and South Africa.

The south-east of England is blessed with a cool, maritime climate and a wide varieties of soils and slopes with which the Chapel Down team can match the appropriate grape varieties to their ideal conditions. As well as its Tenterden vineyard, it now also has a large vineyard in nearby Aylesford, but it also sources fruit from trusted growers on the South Downs of Sussex, the chalk downlands of Hampshire and other areas in Essex and Kent.

The 9 hectares at Tenterden are on clay loam over sand on south-facing slopes. Here, the team plants pinot noir (used for the red and rosé as well as sparkling wines), pinot blanc, chardonnay and bacchus, a relatively new grape variety perfectly suited to English viticulture, some of which has been planted here since 1987.

At Aylesford, the Kit’s Coty vineyard is planted exclusively with the chardonnay and pinot noir used for Chapel Down’s sparkling wine, thanks to its ideal, gentle, south-facing slopes of chalky, well-draining soil. So far 30 of the 45 hectares are planted, leaving room for inevitable expansion.

Among the various varieties sourced elsewhere is rondo, another popular grape used in English red wine production.

All grapes are harvested by hand before being transferred to the winery, where they undergo a gentle pressing before being fermented at low temperatures in stainless-steel tanks, with the exception of a small percentage of the chardonnay which ferments in barrels. The sparkling wine can spend up to five years ageing on its lees for added depth and texture. The team also produces a range of three popular beers called Curious Brew.
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England Vintage 2020

Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, 2020 was a hugely successful vintage qualitatively for English vineyards. Quantitatively, however, yields were way down on both 2019 and the enormous 2018, thanks mainly to a devastating frost on 13th and 14th May, exacerbated by the wonderful weather in the weeks that preceded it. Producers across the south coast, Sussex in particular, reported losses of anywhere between 50% and 90%, with Peter Hall at Breaky Bottom one of the worst hit – his first major frost since the '70s.

The rest of the growing season went without any major issues, with a long, warm summer that led to rising pH levels towards harvest – ideal for still wines. Getting the timing of harvest just right, however, was crucial as there was a deluge of rain at the start of October. So, although quantity is down, quality looks very high, especially for still whites and reds.
2020 vintage reviews

The Evening Standard

We put this wine, made with bacchus grapes, to the ultimate test: we shared it with some French wine lovers. Their opinion? They loved the fruity aroma and light (but by no means overpowering)...
We put this wine, made with bacchus grapes, to the ultimate test: we shared it with some French wine lovers. Their opinion? They loved the fruity aroma and light (but by no means overpowering) fruitiness, the floral-themed hit of elderflower and the clean finish. Our verdict? It’s a deliciously crisp, easy-drinking wine and a great alternative to new world sauvignon blancs.
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- Tamara Hinson

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