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English wine is finally having its moment, but how are you to know whether it’s a yay or Caber-nay? Well, here are a few standouts…
English wine isn’t just delicious, it’s an ethical choice too. It has a low carbon footprint due to its on-site vine-to-bottle method. And many vineyards focus on small-batch, sustainable harvests. They also compost, avoid herbicides, encourage healthy biodiversity, and focus on renewable energy.
While some may think of us English folk more as wine drinkers than makers, in the last 20 years English wine production has become an exciting new force. While climate change remains a very real anxiety, the rising temperatures have meant that we’ve had many more locally produced bottles to drown our sorrows with.
Grape ripening issues have become a thing of the past and the warmer, sunnier climate has opened a door to English red wine production. The limestone-chalk soil and warm climate of the South East mirror the ideal environment for bubbly famously found in Champagne. Because the prices for land in England are much lower, English producers can excel with their consumer-friendly prices. With the number of vines planted growing each year, let me take you through our top picks.
Made from the skin, seeds, and stems of black grapes to achieve its rich red-purple colour, red wine arguably accrues the highest praise. Higher in bitter tannins than any other, it is recommended served at room temperature and as we say at Silver, the older the better.
The unpredictable climate of the South West means that each wine has a character of its own. The beautiful fields of Trevibban Mill in Cornwall have cultivated a pinot noir with aromas of cherries, figs, prunes, and vanilla. The company has been highly celebrated not just for achieving such a full palate but for their sustainable approach. With earthy hints of dark chocolate, pepper, and tobacco, this English wine pairs nicely with beef, lamb, or gruyere.
- On-site production
- Small batch
Suffolk’s Giffords Hall has produced a Pinot Noir with a lick of Rondo resulting in a colourful fusion of peppery cherry and ripe plummy notes. With hints of blackcurrant, vanilla and cedarwood spice, the softness on the palate is extremely appealing.
- Mixed blend
For me, there is nothing better than a crisp, cold glass of white wine. Ranging from dry to sweet with fruity and floral aromas, white wine is made from both white and black grapes fermented without the skins to achieve its signature pure, naked colour.
Awarded a gold medal at the IEWA 2023 for their Pinot Blanc, Oastbrook Estate presents a mouth-watering palate of apple, pear, and honeysuckle with a hint of white peach and nectarine; the perfect partner for fish or chicken on the BBQ this summer.
JoJo’s vineyard is situated on the chalky slopes of the Chiltern Hills, Oxfordshire. Their first wine, a Bacchus-Seyval blend, is a vibrant and expressive white wine that was released at the end of September 2022. With elegant notes of quince, apple blossom and white peach, the light white wine is fantastic with seafood, chicken or garden veg.
- Small batch
Made with black grapes fermented for less time and perfect with light bites and nibbles, rosé is a crowd magnet. Its pink, blush colour leaves a dry taste in the mouth with notes of berries, citrus or tropical fruits.
The team at Winbirri Vineyard in Norfolk have expertly crafted a Pinot Noir Rosé with aromas of cherries, strawberries, and cream. Perfect as an aperitif or with fresh seafood, passion is at the heart of this wine. Its quaffable nature tastes as good as it sounds.
Similarly, the Gusbourne Estate spread across Kent and West Sussex, boasts a leading collection of Burgundian grapes that thrive in the unique microclimate of the South East. They produce smaller volumes of intensely flavourful fruit that have cultivated an English rosè that is zesty and juicy. The raspberry and redcurrant notes are finished with hints of blossom and ginger for a decadent English summer.
The southeast may be the English wine hub, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look further afield for top-notch vino. The 2018 Dunesforde Blanc de Noir is a charismatic sparkler that won gold at the IEWA. With a vibrant fruit purity of red apple and cranberry, it leaves a youthful yet modern expression. Some may say the weather isn’t ideal, but as one of the most northerly vineyards, Dunesforde has bought the vineyards of Tuscany to Yorkshire proving there isn’t a shortage of homemade booze up north.
- Supports local communities
- Environmentally friendly
- Limited reserve
There is an abundance of excellent bubbly in Britain. Sussex-based Ridgeview’s Blanc de Blancs 2018 edition or Fox & Fox’s Blanc de Noirs are among the many of our award-winning wines. But it was important to me to travel a little closer to home for this next one.
From what started as a local community project to 22 acres today, Pebblebed Vineyards in Devon is a thriving wine-growing region. Its unique terroir and warmer summers help the grapes to gently ripen and produce wonderfully fresh aromas. Their Pebblebed Sparkling Rosé is crafted using the Champagne method for delicate red berry and rose petal flavours. Balanced with a fresh acidity, it has the wonderful fresh aromas that make English wine so special.
- Supports local communities
- Mixed blend
Sweet in taste, dessert wines pair perfectly with cheesecakes, vanilla or chocolate puddings, crème brulee – you name it! Perfect for when you never want your meal to end…
As well as boasting a range of award-winning sparkling wines, the Hampshire-based Hattingley Valley entice you with an elegant dessert wine that has intense aromas of peach and elderflower. Its crisp acidity balances perfectly with the natural sweetness to give a pure, lasting honeyed finish.
- Individually tested
Made with grapes using the fermentation process, fortified wines have spirits added to them to increase its alcohol content – sounds like a recipe for a party to us. They were originally developed before the days of refrigeration to preserve wine on long journeys.
My favourite is vermouth because it is flavoured with herbs and spices. You can get either dry (white) or sweet (red) vermouth that ranges from dry and floral to sweet and spiced. While vermouth usually originates from Italy or France, the Sacred English Amber Vermouth produced in Highgate, London was crowned the world’s best vermouth in 2019. With delicate floral and sweet orange notes, it is best served on the rocks or in a classic spritz.
- Organic botanicals
Ok bear with me – we all know that alcohol-free wine is generally disgusting, right? But finally, there are some great AF options
available for those who like a tipple without the topple. L.A Brewery in Suffolk brings you a sparkling English blush that finally offers a chance for your mind and body to reset. Inspired by summer sunshine, it combines seasonal florals with a hint of rhubarb for a crisp kombucha that is delicately dry with a floral fizz for everyone to enjoy.
- Transparent list of ingredients
- No hangover – say no more
Or if you are looking for something more on the still side, look no further than Jukes, London. Their organic apple cider vinegar-based drinks are made with all-natural ingredients. You can enjoy a taste of their full range with The Tasting Box. It is an ultimate
sensory experience that includes two white, two red and one rosé that take you from citrus and herbal to deep and spicy to dry and refreshing.
- Low calories
Selecting great wine
At the end of the day, if you don’t really know wine but you want a great glass of something, here are three things to look out for:
Reflect on the flavours you enjoy
Turn to the back of the bottle and consider the flavours YOU enjoy – do they match?
The more details the better
Is there information on the region, valley and grapes listed on the back?
Don’t let price dictate your choice
Discounts can often be a great opportunity to find a good deal in wine. They don’t mean the wine is of a lower quality or won’t taste great. Sometimes a bottle may be on sale because it is not in season or has been sitting in the store’s inventory for a while. In that case, consider the flavours and occasion, then allow price to be a secondary consideration.
Beth is one of Silver’s interns. She loves reading and studying literature. Entering her final year of university, Beth still finds time to dance, swim, and have a pint with friends. Her favourite hobby is going to coffee shops, if you can call it a hobby!
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