It’s a busy week in the world of wine, not to mention spirits.
Not only is it English Wine Week, but next Saturday also sees World Gin Day.
Both English wine and gin are currently enjoying amazing success and we are lucky here in the south as much of this is happening right on our doorstep.
The Hampshire downs are home to some of the finest sparkling wines being produced in England right now.
And with the news that Pommery Champagne has now purchased some land with the intention of planting a vineyard in Hampshire, these are without doubt exciting times. Rosé is a style of wine that is very fashionable right now.
But it seems to me that sparkling rosé is often overlooked, as it can be very versatile, particularly when matched with food.
Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé NV (£35 hambledonvineyard.co.uk) is an absolute beauty and winner of multiple awards at the recent major wine competitions, including gold medals at both the Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge .
This is a blend of 90 per cent chardonnay and 10 per cent pinot noir, mainly from the 2014 vintage with five per cent reserve wines.
A really attractive, vivid colour with a fine bead of bubbles, the nose shows strawberry, cranberry and red cherry, followed by more red fruits and a touch of citrus on the palate.
The finish is long with great balance. This is lots of fun but
pretty serious fizz as well. Serve it with some Hampshire smoked trout.
Also in Hampshire, Winchester Distillery is doing some wonderful things with gin and I can’t think of a better gin to taste on World Gin Day than the newly-released Hampshire Fine Dry Gin (winchesterdistillery.co.uk £35.95 Fareham Wine Cellar £33.99).
It’s made by distiller Paul Bowler who, having achieved great success with his Twisted Nose Watercress Gin and some limited edition seasonal Hampshire gins, has now added a permanent Hampshire gin.
This a classic London dry-style and is made in small batches in a traditional copper pot still using only natural ingredients.
It’s quite juniper-heavy but with lovely notes of lemon and lime and a touch of eastern spice. The finish is dry and fresh and just needs a good quality tonic and twist of lemon.
Lastly this week, something entirely different. Freixenet Ice (Sainsbury’s, Morrisons £12) is a cava designed to be poured and served over ice, not something that immediately springs to mind, or certainly not mine, when thinking about sparkling wine.
It’s made in the traditional cava method and comes dressed in a very striking white bottle.
Moet et Chandon introduced an ice champagne some years ago and this is undoubtedly a nod to that. So I served it in large glasses with ice and a strawberry to guests over the weekend. The sun was shining and it seemed to go down very well.
It’s easy to drink with perhaps a bit of sweetness on the palate. Not a serious wine, but then it’s not supposed to be.
n Alistair Gibson is proprietor of Hermitage Cellars, Emsworth. Call (01243) 431002 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org