Top picks from English Wine Week | Alistair Gibson

This week is English Wine Week, a little later than usual this year because of the pandemic, but its purpose is still to highlight the amazing success story that English producers have enjoyed in the past few years.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 26th June 2020, 1:26 pm
Enjoy some of these fine wines during English Wine Week. Picture: Cathal McNaughton/PA Wire

Despite the past few months having been difficult for many producers, there is still a huge amount of optimism for the future.

Nyetimber, one of the most well known and respected producers of English sparkling wine, has recently planted a further 195,000 vines on a 42-acre vineyard in Kent. It currently produces about one million bottles a year and the owner, Eric Heerema, expects this to increase to two million by 2030 . He also believes there will be more investment here from Champagne houses, following on from the purchase of vineyard land already by two producers. It would seem that this is the start of a truly golden age for English wine.

Pommery was the first Champagne house to release an English sparkling wine back in 2018 using Hattingley Valley estate’s facilities and this autumn will see it harvest from its own 40-hectare vineyard in Hampshire for the first time. Louis Pommery England Brut NV (Majestic £39.99 or £34.99 as part of a mixed six, Ocado £39.99) is a blend of pinot noir and chardonnay, the nose shows green apple, citrus, stone fruits and some chalky notes, followed by a very fresh, crisp palate with more apple and citrus and a little honey on the background. This is very fine indeed.

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Staying in Hampshire, Raimes Classic 2014 (raimes.co.uk £30, Fareham Wine Cellar £29, Hermitage Cellars £25.95) is a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. This is really top drawer fizz and it has a pretty impressive trophy cabinet when it comes to awards to prove it.

As this has developed there is more than a note of brioche along with lemon, pear and apple on the bouquet, followed by a really elegant palate with well-balanced acidity and a long, satisfying finish.

It was mentioned to me last week when I opened a bottle of Lyme Bay Chardonnay 2018, Devon (lymebaywinery.co.uk £22.49) that ‘Devon isn’t well known for its chardonnay’, which judging by the quality of this wine is a sentence I won’t be hearing much more in the future. There is no question that this is one of the finest English still wines I have tasted so far. The future, it would seem, is very bright.