It’s all about inner beauty, we are told. But as a retailer, Grape Britannia is very conscious that people do form judgements about a wine that influence their purchasing, based on the look of the bottle and label. It’s a natural, unconscious process most of the time, although, when someone is buying the wine as a gift, the aesthetics of the bottle are more front of mind.
And some of the time, it’s a real pity, as wines which we know taste exceptional languish unsold as they don’t have the same shelf appeal. This article highlights 4 wine bottles that may be “ugly ducklings” (they’re not actually ugly, but they do not perhaps stand out so much on the shelf), but when the cork is popped a beautiful swan of a wine is revealed.
Initially planted in 1972 by the Alper family, the Chilford Hall vineyard is set out over 20 acres of free draining “flinty” soil which overlays chalk. The 2018 vintage was excellent for Chilford, as with so many English wine producers, and the wines express riper fruit flavours than typical, while still retaining fantastic acidity and freshness. Their first varietal Bacchus wine shows great typicity, with herbaceous and hedgerow aromas with flavours of nettle and lime finishing with spicy pepper notes.
The vineyards of Denbies Estate are situated on the North Downs, in the town of Dorking, with its famous chalky soil, in a protected valley of south facing slopes (AONB). A total of 265 acres out of the 700 acre estate have been planted to vine, commencing in 1986. Flint Valley Dry NV has a lively nose of lime zest and ripe pear leads to a fresh and vibrant citrus palate with refreshing minerality and well-balanced acidity. It is made from a select blend of white varietals grown on chalk, which imparts distinctive elegant minerality to the components of Flint Valley, with a suggestion of flinty steeliness, the light and sandy soils enhancing the grapes’ floral, fruit-driven flavours.
The Classic Cuvee Brut NV is produced using the traditional method of production, with secondary fermentation in bottle. Wonderfully fresh English Sparkling Wine, with elderflower and light lemon aromas and flavours, and a subtle hint of yoghurt and bread. It is made at the Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire, which is south facing on sandy loam soil. Most vines are 10-20 years old, and all grapes are hand-picked.
Impressively full-flavoured fizz, with green apple and elderflower aromas backed up by good yeasty depth on the palate. The wine was made following the traditional method with the first fermentation in stainless steel and second fermentation in bottle. New Hall is one of England’s oldest and largest vineyards, established by the Greenwood family in 1969. A formative stint in Alsace inspired the winemaker, Piers Greenwood, with the sparkling wines demonstrating the suitability of their Essex slopes for classic English Sparkling Wine.