A wine I tried a few years ago, I wanted to try the current vintage (2010) and was given the possibility to do so at a trade fair in Düsseldorf a few weeks ago. Since trying it for the first time, the English sparkling wine scene has gone from strength to strength: back then Balfour was a new player with only a handful of over people making their names on the newcomer scene.
Whereas the other English producers broke free with their white bubbly, Hush Heath first started making the wine scene news with their elegant Balfour: a rosé made using the traditional blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier (46%, 45% and 9% in that order for the 2010 Vintage). Click here for more from me on English Sparkling Rose.
A very pale and discreet pink - natural.
Very fresh on the nose, this wine promised sweet red fruit although an underlying citrus appeared to be in place. Darker forest fruit seemed closeby and the mineral notes were rounded – nice toasty feeling, but not too heavy – suggesting a lighter drink.
Very refreshing and juicy red berries but also a lovely summer-fruit compote in the attack: blueberries, strawberries and even raspberries eventually gave way to some lively acidity (interestingly, the structural backbone of the wine). The finish was deliciously yeasty and pastry-like: not too much yeast but just enough to finish off the sweet red fruit with a harmonious note. Long finish although squeaky-clean and remaining elegant long after swallowing.
The best English Rosé I’ve ever tried – I liked the 2007 Nyetimber but this feels more authentic: there’s no “I want to be Champagne” behind it but a true sense of uniqueness – perhaps this British style the wineries are looking for? Excellently and evidently lovingly-made, a true ambassador for the English wine industry.
Sourced from the first quality vineyard of Iphöfer Kalb in the tiny Franconian town of Iphofen, this Silvaner sold in the traditional Bocksbeutel of Franken is one of the classic wines of the region. Often dull and over-vegetative in some parts, Silvaner/Sylvaner is experiencing a drop in popularity amongst German consumers. However the wines of Franken tell a different story: nowhere else in the country (and probably world) does Silvaner grow quite so well and with so much character.
The Kabinett wine in dry variant is a classic example of just how good Silvaner can be in a German wine industry dominated by Riesling and the Burgundy varietals. The family-run winery of Brennfleck has been producing local wine in and around the towns of Iphofen and Sulzfeld for more than 400 years. This one retails for around 8€ and was sourced from a local supermarket.
Bright straw yellow, nice and thick with a certain amount of Weinstein.
With the familiar vegetative and herbal feel of silvaner, some lovely thick citrus was detectable and really quite pleasant. I was left imagining something a lot more full of acid than I’m used to from Silvaner and the final helping of peachy fruit and some really mineral-laden notes were especially welcome.
A very thick wine from start to finish: there was an acidic attack livened up by some fresh lime and the tannic bite of grapefruit too. Peach came through on the palate but was subdued and the hit of sugar was both in place and complimented the fruit perfectly. There was some rather gritty granite on the spice front and the wine ended nice and smooth with a long but clearly-defined finish.
This wasn’t just good Silvaner, this was good white wine altogether. With the uniquely charismatic and regional features typical of Franken alongside the traditional feel of Silvaner, this is a great wine to enjoy with any meal or simply on its own. Priced at under a tenner, it also represents great value too. A recommendation, I’m looking forward to trying some of the wineries other wines in the near future!
Throughout my various blogs and online projects, it occurs to me that, whilst mentioning Chapel Down’s Vintage Reserve Brut NV on a number of occasions and actually recommending it to readers, I have never posted my review.
I drank it on my birthday of 2011 and particularly enjoyed it. Not quite as exclusive as the competition, Chapel Down’s Vintage Reserve Brut NV is a tantalisingly British offering with both the notes and feel of a classical sparkling wine but with a quintessential (albeit theoretical) Union Jack waving somewhere between the fine bubbles and fermented grape juice.
I might not have been particularly complimentary of their Bacchus Reserve although my only criticism was the price. I felt it a bit steep for that kind of white wine but this is probably by me being spoilt for choice in Germany where comparative quality and similarly made wines retail for a third of the Kent winery’s asking price. This sparkler is quite the opposite and whilst it might not be Britain’s best bubbly, it certainly is the best priced.
Although light in colour wearing wonderful satin, there is a yellow tone too although very discreet. Fine and well-balanced bubble structure.
Rich in lemon, there is also a sense of fresh apple, some succulent freshly-baked brioche but also some savoury, salty bread in there too. There are also some great notes of a herbaceous sense: some really authentic notes that remind of non-Riesling German still wines (Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner). Fine bubble
With lemon dominating the palate, some lovely brioche makes it through, just after the racing acidity and fresh fruit has been deleivered. Finishing on some great vegetative notes, the wine shows its balance, not continuing with either ripe fruit or acidity in the interests of the classical Champagne drinker.
A fantastically lively bubbly with a great deal going on but also reservedly discreet. Not just the best English sparkler for this price category but also heaps better than most other sparkling competition around the £15-20 mark too. Enjoy it as an aperitif, with smoked fish or finger food. Drink within 2-3 years of purchase. 8.6/10 points
Where to get it
Most big wine handlers in the UK now stock English wines and a great deal of them offer Chapel Down’s produce as part of their standard ranges. You can order the wine directly from Chapel Down here but you’ll also find it in most Waitrose and Marks and Spencer stores (where it sells with a slightly different label). If you live outside of the UK, your best chances lie with ordering from one of the larger UK wine dealers or by contacting the winery directly.
Essex, England - No Vintage mentioned
This wine is made using Madeleine Angevine, a cold-climate white varietal most widely used in the Loire Valley in France. No, I'd never had a great deal to do with it before either...
The Felsted vineyards are a simple affair and after visiting them on Friday 24.08.2012 I took a bottle of their only dry white with me, my father took their two medium bottles: Bacchus and Müller-Thurgau but they also produce a Pinot Noir Rose. The winery itself is located just outside of the lovely village of Felsted and the visitor's centre is a small shed in a dusty car park but nonetheless rather charming. The winery also produces some fantastic beers.
I was pleased with the wine and, unlike a great deal of other English still stuff, it was actually quite realistically priced at around £7 a bottle.
Very Clear indeed, almost no colour at all really although holding up to light brought out a very faint green.
Despite all phases being very discreet the nose allowed a great deal to be discovered about the wine: there was a large amount of fresh, ripe fruit including apricots and peaches. There was also a profound sense of green apple which invited a sense of acidity into the equation.
Very delicate, this wine was a discreet one. Although fruit was to detect it felt a little understated. With the apricot, peaches and apple coming through, they were joined by the tangy bite of gooseberry which, along with the apple, seemed to induce a rather refreshing acidic structure which was rather appropriately rounded-off with a sprinkling of earthy granite - very discreet but a statement nonetheless.
Whilst the wine was at no time fantastic, it was however rather good. With that unique English tang it portrays the English wineries in the direction they should be heading: not attempting to enter the already overcrowded marketplace of everyday, standard wines but going their own way and attempting to establish a whole new market sector: light, tangy and very refreshing beverages. With only 10.5% ABV, this wine achieved all of those things and was one of the better still wines from England I've tried (although very similar to many others). Don't be put off by the amateur-looking label: this is real wine.
-Sud de France
-Pinot Blanc (Weißburgunder)
-Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder)
-Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling)
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-Medium / off-dry
-Brut Zero/ Brut Nature
-Medium / off-dry