English wines gaining plaudits
It’s been exciting to see the incredibly positive reaction from wine critics and journalists to the first vintage release from Danbury Ridge Wine Estate in Essex, whose wines we are proud to stock, as it is further proof of the world waking up to the exceptional quality that still English wines can reach. Read more below about this emerging star of English wine.
On the English Sparkling Wine side, the world has been aware for several years now of the incredible wines being produced here. Decanter Magazine, the world’s premier wine publication, carried a tasting article in its May 2021 edition on English Blanc de Blancs, that is, sparkling wines made solely from white grapes. Of the 18 wines featured, we stock the four highest scoring, and six altogether. Find out more below.
We are extremely excited about our next online event, on Saturday 8 May, which is a collaboration with the Cambridge String Quartet. They will be performing Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 5 in A Major, Op. 18, and we have chosen a wine to pair with each of the movements. I’ll be discussing the wines, why we’ve paired them, and the structural elements of wine and music, with Professor Nicholas Marston of the University of Cambridge. Wines can be purchased in sample sizes or a full bottle set; buy your tickets for the music here and you will be directed to the page to buy wines, in either sample sizes or a full bottle set.
Finally, the four new wines we’re showcasing this month are: an organic Pet Nat from Kent, the latest vintage of Simpson Wine Estate’s perennially popular Railway Hill Rosé, a beautiful sparkling rosé from West Sussex and a sweet Bacchus from Cornwall.
Co-Founder, Grape Britannia
|It’s rare to see such unanimous consensus on the outstanding quality of an estate’s first releases, but Danbury Ridge Wine Estate, in Essex, have obtained glowing reviews from across the spectrum of wine critics and journalists for their inaugral 2018 vintage. Jancis Robinson wrote about the estate here, in comparison to Burgundian wines. Other Masters of Wine, such as Mike Best and Anne Krebiehl, have been effuse in their praise too. But it’s not just rarified MWs who love these wines. Charlie Holland, Gusbourne’s winemaker, Tweeted: “Speechless @DanburyRidge magnificent wines. A new frontier in English wine”. Hamish Anderson, who does Wine in the Saturday Telegraph, Tweeted: “The finest English still wines I have tried.”Actually, we have an apology to make to our newsletter readers. We intended for you to be some of the first to know about their wines, but we sold out of our allocation of their limited edition “888” wines, so-called since only 888 bottles per release are made, within a few hours of putting them on our website a few days ago. However, their 2018 Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are still available.|
If you would like to be put on the list for potential allocations of the 2019 “888” wines when they are released, please indicate this in the notes section at checkout when ordering their 2018 Chardonnay and / or Pinot Noir.
If you want to find out more, read our blog article on Danbury Ridge.
|TOP BLANCS DE BLANCS|
|At Grape Britannia, we’re proud of having the widest range of English & Welsh wines anywhere – but quality is paramount. It’s lovely to have some external validation that our range contains the best, so we were delighted when Susy Atkins, in Decanter Magazine‘s tasting of English Blanc de Blancs in its May 2021 edition, gave the four top scores to wines we stock!|
Gold medal went to Harrow & Hope, followed by Gusbourne, Wiston Estate and Nyetimber.
We’ve put together a case containing the top three wines, with a small discount. All can of course be purchased separately. via the links above.
|Simpsons Railway Hill Rosé 2020 (£19.49) The perennially popular and absolutely delicious Simpsons Wine Estate Railway Hill Rosé has returned! This beautiful Provencal-style English rosé is created from 100% estate-grown Pinot Noir. Its delicate aromas and attractive colour captures the essence of summer. The Railway Hill Rosé, so called because the Canterbury to Folkestone light railway passed through this site in the late 19th and first half of the 20th Century, has fresh aromas of watermelon and lychee and displays clean stone fruits (peach and nectarine) flavours balanced by a crisp mouth-watering finish. Buy here »|
Davenport Vineyards Pet Nat 2020 (£21.99) Another sought-after wine, we were pleased to be allocated 24 bottles of this fabulous Pet Nat, which is made from an unusual blend of Auxerrois, Bacchus, Pinot Meunier and Faber. The pressure is 3.5Bar, so less fizzy than a traditional sparkling wine. The idea is to emphasise the fruit/floral character, but also to capture lots of yeast flavours and make a really refreshing drink. The wine is made from organic grapes and had zero sulphur addition, no added yeast, and was unfiltered. The bottles have a sediment as they deliberately don’t disgorge clean – this allows the wine to stay fresh and develop more complexity over time. Buy here »
|Wiston Estate Rosé NV (£28.99) This rosé English Sparkling Wine captures the essence of summer, with fragrant notes of rhubarb, raspberry, strawberry, redcurrant, wild roses, lemon zest and a touch of sherbet on the finish. Underlying all of this is a backbone of crushed oyster shells, which reflects the pure chalk terroir where the vines are grown. It is a superbly elegant English Sparkling wine with tiny, persistent bubbles and a refreshing acidity that makes one go back for more. The wine had 3 years on lees at cool temperatures (9-11 degrees Celsius), and to preserve the wine’s natural poise and balance a dosage of 10g/l was chosen to complete the wine. Buy here »|
Knightor Winery Three Barrels Bacchus (£16.99)A small amount of Knightor’s total Bacchus crop was pressed and fermented in old French oak barrels with the intention of blending with their tank fermented dry Bacchus. However, these three barrels naturally stopped fermenting, leaving behind considerable residual sugar, resulting in a unique, fragrant and sweet small batch wine. It is a very different expression of Bacchus compared to your typical dry style. The aromas are a little more reserved and grown up, peach, elderflower and delicate vanilla come to the fore. The palate is surprisingly rich for an English wine, showing honeyed oak, elderflower presse and delicate apple. The finish is sweet and long. Buy here »