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Chapel Down: brilliant and bold

What is Chapel Down?

Chapel Down is the largest producer of English wine. But that doesn’t mean that they are some faceless corporation who are more interested in generating profits than making wine that will delight you, the customer. Far from it – they are actually one of the most innovative and dynamic of English wine producers.

Established in 2001, they have grown over time to own over 200 hectares of vineyard, and also buy in grapes from other producers. In 2018 they made well over a million bottles of wine!

Backing Bacchus

Bacchus grapes for English White Wine
Bacchus grapes

Why do I think that Chapel Down are dynamic and innovative? Well, take their approach to Bacchus, England’s signature still wine grape, which has a similar style to Sauvignon Blanc. How many Bacchus variants do you think they have in their range? A couple, maybe three, even four?

No – there’s six, yes six, including one of a rare Orange Bacchus and a Sparkling Bacchus. These are bookends for the ladder of increasing quality of “normal” still Bacchus wines – Bacchus, Reserve Bacchus, Tenterden Estate Bacchus and Kits Coty Bacchus.

Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

Their entry level Bacchus (£14.99) is real cracker, and winner of a Gold Medal at the WineGB 2019 Awards. Fresh, full of gooseberry and elderflower, it is incredibly drinkable but satisfyingly more interesting than most wines this price.

It would work very well with most white fish dishes and many chicken based meals, its crisp acidity complementing these meats perfectly.

The Bacchus Reserve (£16.99) and Tenterden Estate Bacchus (£18.99) are created from increasingly small, select parcels of grapes from the best sites in the Chapel Down portfolio. You get that much more sophistication, intensity and purity as you step up the ladder.

The Tenterden Estate Bacchus in particular is a flagship example of what this grape can achieve in England.

The Sparkling Bacchus (£19.99) is tropical and slightly sweet without being sickly, a more light-hearted take on sparkling wine than the English norm – an English Prosecco if you like!

It is not made in the “Champagne method”, unlike most English Sparkling Wine, so it’s focus is on those wonderful fruit flavours, with none of the biscuity, toasty notes that are typical of English Sparkling Wine.

It’s an excellent, easy drinking wine that will being a smile to your face.

The Chapel Down range isn’t just Bacchus though – they have many sparkling wines, which have proved so popular that, despite being the largest producer, they have totally run out of!

Still available are their fabulous Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Lots of people who don’t normally like Chardonnay have tried the Chapel Down version in our shop and been amazed as it is nothing like the New World, high alcohol, loads of oak examples that have put them off in the past.

The Chardonnay (£14.99) is light but not insubstantial, with ripe green apple and luscious lemon flavours. It partners perfectly with roast chicken and is delightful on its own to sip and savour.

Chapel Down also make vodka and gin, based on grapes! This gives them a super-smooth texture and hint of fruitiness to the flavour.

The highly aromatic Chapel Down Bacchus Gin was infused with juniper, coriander, elderflower, orris, angelica, lavender, orange peel and lemon. It has intense aromas of citrus peel, juniper and freshly cut grass leading to an early palate dominated by ripe citrus fruit with a herbal finish.

Hopefully this has given you a (virtual!) taste of the exciting range that Chapel Down has developed. With an experienced team, they are producing exceptional quality wines that are really pushing the boundaries of English Wine. Long may it continue!

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