It’s not one of his best-known songs but there is a Bruce Springsteen track called From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come) and I as I stood in a Hampshire vineyard with a baby pinot noir vine in my hand, I couldn’t help but hum it.
I was helping plant new vines at Jenkyn Place Vineyard in north Hampshire, but in many ways the title of that song tells the tale of the whole of the English wine industry.
In what seems a few short years this fledgling industry has gone from relative obscurity to capturing the imagination of not only UK wine consumers but – and whisper this very quietly – now even the great and the good of Champagne are looking over their shoulders to the South Downs.
Jenkyn Place was bought by Simon Bladon in 1997 and after a chance encounter with a glass of English fizz in 2003 he began to plant vines in old hop fields near to his house.
Today the farm is planted with the classic Champagne varieties of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Last week saw the planting of a further vineyard with new pinot noir vines to help meet demand.
Sadly, the vines I helped plant won’t be part of a finished bottle of fizz for at least seven years but in the meantime the sparkling wines of Jenkyn Place are, without doubt, worth seeking out.
Jenkyn Place Classic Cuvée Brut 2013 (Jenkynplace.com £29.50, The General Wine Company £28.99, Waitrose £24.99) is a blend of all three grapes with chardonnay very much the main player.
The nose is still very fresh and instantly appealing with notes of green apples, citrus and hints of cashews, followed by quite a broad palate with that tell-tale English sparkling wine characteristic of pure, almost steely acidity and great clarity.
It’s all beautifully integrated and makes a lovely aperitif, but also would be the perfect partner to classic English fish and chips.
Jenkyn Place Rosé 2014 2013 (Jenkynplace.com £35) is a blend of all three classic Champagne varieties with pinot noir taking the lead.
The 2014 vintage was a great year for English fizz and it shows here. Very pretty in the glass with a fine bead of bubbles and a lovely pale pink colour, the bouquet is all about an English summer with its soft red fruits, and there is also a touch of citrus fruit and a little spice.
The palate is very fresh with more red fruits and crisp acidity, before a long, elegant finish.
Enjoy this on a summer’s evening in the garden.
Jenkyn Place Blanc de Noir 2010 (Jenkynplace.com £35) is my favourite in the current line up at the moment.
It shows green apple, pear, citrus and a touch of biscuit on the nose, the palate is still very fresh with real structure and a long, beguiling finish.
I can only hope the vines I helped plant will one day produce a wine as good as this. As Bruce said, ‘From small things……’