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Camel Valley Bacchus, Cornwall 2020

White Wine from England
Generous gooseberry, elderflower and lime-zest aromas and a full and energetic palate bring the pleasures of the British hedgerows to your home. A perfect summer white and a welcome alternative to sauvignon blanc.
is no longer available
Code: EN1611

Wine characteristics

  • White Wine
  • Dry
  • Bacchus
  • 12.5% Alcohol
  • No oak influence
  • Now to 2023
  • 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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Camel Valley Vineyard

This estate has become practically unrivalled in its success, winning big at the International Wine Challenge, Decanter World Wine awards and many more. It has even been awarded a gong for outstanding service to tourism by Cornwall’s tourism board.

Ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie planted their first vines back in 1989. They had initially relocated to the Cornish countryside several years earlier, wishing to escape from the service lifestyle and bring up a young family, and they began farming sheep and cattle.

Their farm is on the sun-drenched slopes of the Camel Valley, not far from the famous Camel River, and as the summers went by Bob and Annie began to wonder whether vines might enjoy this idyllic aspect.

They both took viticulture courses and began reading every wine and vine book they could find, and Bob did a vintage in Germany to ready them for their first year. They built their winery, and picked their first harvest with help only from a few friends, leaving Bob to work through the night pressing the grapes by himself.

When their first wine won a medal in the national English wine competition, they knew they were doing something right. Since then, they’ve created a state-of-the art winery, employed a small staff and won awards at national and international levels year on year, notably Waitrose Drinks Producer of the Year in 2002 and then a gold medal in the 2005 IWC for their sparkling wine – the first sparkling wine in Cornwall.

The farm’s mild climate and...
This estate has become practically unrivalled in its success, winning big at the International Wine Challenge, Decanter World Wine awards and many more. It has even been awarded a gong for outstanding service to tourism by Cornwall’s tourism board.

Ex-RAF pilot Bob Lindo and his wife Annie planted their first vines back in 1989. They had initially relocated to the Cornish countryside several years earlier, wishing to escape from the service lifestyle and bring up a young family, and they began farming sheep and cattle.

Their farm is on the sun-drenched slopes of the Camel Valley, not far from the famous Camel River, and as the summers went by Bob and Annie began to wonder whether vines might enjoy this idyllic aspect.

They both took viticulture courses and began reading every wine and vine book they could find, and Bob did a vintage in Germany to ready them for their first year. They built their winery, and picked their first harvest with help only from a few friends, leaving Bob to work through the night pressing the grapes by himself.

When their first wine won a medal in the national English wine competition, they knew they were doing something right. Since then, they’ve created a state-of-the art winery, employed a small staff and won awards at national and international levels year on year, notably Waitrose Drinks Producer of the Year in 2002 and then a gold medal in the 2005 IWC for their sparkling wine – the first sparkling wine in Cornwall.

The farm’s mild climate and the suntrap provided by its steep, sloping vineyards conspire to imbue their wines with a delicious balance between fullness and freshness. The main grapes grown are typical of English vineyards – seyval blanc, bacchus, triomphe, reichensteiner, dornfelder and pinot noir – and 20% of production is given to red wines.

Their second generation has already begun, as their son Sam took over as winemaker in 2005, having abandoned a finance career when he realised his heart really lay in the Cornish countryside. He has added to the estate’s string of awards, and won UK Winemaker of the Year in 2007. The experience he gained working at a winery in New Zealand has influenced Camel Valley’s production methods, including a keener focus on cool-temperature fermentation, and an even greater attention to detail.

The majority of their stocks are snapped up by local retailers and restaurants, including the likes of Rick Stein’s restaurant, but they now export their wines as far as Japan.
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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
2019 vintage reviews
2018 vintage reviews

Scottish Field

Perhaps it’s almost time to elevate English still wines from “discoveries” to classics”? If you haven’t yet explored the potential of the auld enemy’s vinous...
Perhaps it’s almost time to elevate English still wines from “discoveries” to classics”? If you haven’t yet explored the potential of the auld enemy’s vinous treats then this is a great starting point. Bacchus is England’s answer to sauvignon blanc, with elderflower and the rest of the hedgerow on the nose and then elderberry and asparagus to balance its crisp acidity. There’s a noticeable bit of residual sugar here, but it’s well judged and helps to balance that searing acidity. Last year was a stonking vintage for England, so grab these bottles while you can, and take note of the society’s special offer to coincide with English Wine Week in June.
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- Peter Ranscombe

Daily Express

This is a fabulous advert for bacchus as the UK's most outstanding grape. Bursting with flavours of gooseberry, lime and elderflower and utterly redolent of lazy summer days. This...
This is a fabulous advert for bacchus as the UK's most outstanding grape. Bursting with flavours of gooseberry, lime and elderflower and utterly redolent of lazy summer days. This Cornish-produced wine boasts a long and refreshing finish.
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- Matt Nixson

JancisRobinson.com

Technically perfect, with good balance of fruit and (marked) acidity. I'm not 100% sure this is the wine to win-over a doubting Frenchman but it certainly doesn't have any faults.

15.5/20

decanter.com

Sales of English wine at The Wine Society have 'gone bananas' in the last few months, according to buyer Matthew Horsley. Bacchus is probably the most well-known white grape used for still...
Sales of English wine at The Wine Society have 'gone bananas' in the last few months, according to buyer Matthew Horsley. Bacchus is probably the most well-known white grape used for still wines in England, offering a fresh and aromatic character, with elderflower, hedgerow fragrance and some lime citrus zestiness. This bottling from the great 2020 vintage has 4.7g/L residual sugar to round out the palate, and is an easy-drinking alternative to sauvignon blanc that isn't too pungent.
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89/100 Amy Wislocki

Times of Tunbridge Wells

You really couldn't invent a better name for a wine grape than Bacchus, the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. The aromatic German cross first appeared in...
You really couldn't invent a better name for a wine grape than Bacchus, the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy. The aromatic German cross first appeared in Britain in 1973 as an early-ripening grape, well-matched to our cooler climate. This tip-tip, medium-bodied Cornish rendition  tastes of the English spring and was one of a dozen highlights at The Wine Society's recent virtual press tasting. Pale in the glass, it brims with hedgerows and fresh notes of elderflower, lime leaf and nettles, finishing pure and crisp. Ideal for a spring sip, and to match the imminent asparagus crop. Lovely also with fish and chips, oysters and trout. 
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- James Viner

Yorkshire Post

If there ever was a year to drink English wine it is this one. Liven up your staycation with a taste of Cornish wine with the fresh grapey flavours of the bacchus grape, with elderflower and...
If there ever was a year to drink English wine it is this one. Liven up your staycation with a taste of Cornish wine with the fresh grapey flavours of the bacchus grape, with elderflower and gooseberry notes alongside.
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- Christine Austin

i

Fresh and zesty with the taste of elderflower and pink grapefruit, this could be England’s answer to sauvignon blanc.

- Christine Austin

Sunday Telegraph

With elderflower and lime aromas, gooseberry fruit and leafy, grassy hints, this is a wonderful early summer wine and a fine partner for asparagus served steamed with lemon and butter. From grapes...
With elderflower and lime aromas, gooseberry fruit and leafy, grassy hints, this is a wonderful early summer wine and a fine partner for asparagus served steamed with lemon and butter. From grapes harvested in mid-September and bottled in January 2021, so it’s youthful, zingy and refreshing.
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- Susy Atkins

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