English Wine Reviews
Simpsons Estate Chardonnay 2018 - £13.99
Region: Canterbury, Kent
Tasting Notes: Tropical and limey. Honeysuckle followed by crisp and crunchy apples and pears with just a slight sweet edge on the front of the tongue. This is followed by a lively acidity on the mid-palate and a flinty finish. Well, imagine squeezing a lemon over a piece of cantaloupe melon before eating it off a piece of flint stone.
If this wine seems a bit pricey, trust me that for a still English wine this is a very good price.
Beacon Down Bacchus 2018 - £14.95
Region: East Sussex
Tasting Notes: Fresh spring garden smells, white blossoms and crisp apples. Medium body and a lingering acidity.
Paul and Al Pippard sold up their London flat in 2014 in search of their vineyard dreams and now run the business, tours, picnics and events as well as tending to their vines. They are one of the few people growing Riesling in England, other places such as Denbies and Rathfinny tried cultivating Riesling in their earlier years, but have since dug up the vines.
Three Choirs Vineyard Stone Brook 2018 - £11.99
Grape: Phoenix, Sieggerrebe, Solaris
Tasting Notes: Plenty of green and tropical fruit aromas to throw in the mix. English garden gooseberry meets tropical Asian lychee with a candied lime finish, light in body and just off-dry.
Three Choirs of Gloucestershire are one of the older vineyards in Britain. Their first vineyard was planted in 1973 with just ½ an acre to see if they would grow, today there are 75 acres. With a whole host of different grapes grown and wines sold at very reasonable prices, they are perfect for anyone wanting to learn about the varieties grown in England
Woodchester Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2018 - £15.95
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc
Tasting Notes: Herbaceous notes, clean, tight acidity keeping the aromas pinned together. Interesting to see what the UK can pull out of the bag for SB, as we see so many German varieties grown here.
You don’t need to be a bidet owner to enjoy this.
For history buffs, at the winery there is an Orpheus Roman pavement. This 2,200 sq ft mosaic floor was the centre piece of a 22 acre palace complex dating from AD 200-400 however it is no longer open to the public. Still sounds cool though.
Westwell Ortega Skin Contact 2018 - £19.50
Region: North Downs, Kent
Tasting Notes: Here we go... On the nose: roasted cashews, yeast, stewed apple, sultanas, resin, thyme, dried pineapple, hay. On the palate: light tannin, med acid (for UK), not racing passion fruit mouth but with a saline element particularly on the finish.
This Ortega was fermented on skins slowly using wild yeasts, then aged in old Burgundy barrels for 9 months before bottling - unfined & unfiltered. Westwell are all about minimal intervention and continue to experiment with Pet Nats, amphora wines, skin contact etc. Adrian makes the wine and Galia designs some of the labels, this wine included. The more I find hear their story and the more I drink their wines, the more fascinated I become. Go and buy something funky and delicious from these guys right now.
Somerby Vineyards, Magna Carta 1215 - £9.99
Region: North Linconshire Wolds
Tasting Notes: Plenty of red cox apple and apple blossom on the nose. A green, tangy palate with medium body and high streak of acidity.
Planting vines since 2006, Somerby grow Bacchus, Regent, Solaris and Phoenix and make award winning wines with them too! They also make a cider if you're of that particular sweet fermented appley persuasion.
Danebury Vineyards, Reserve 2018 - £10.99
Grape: Schonburger blend
Tasting Notes: Saline on a stick! Bone dry and crisp as you like. I love the savoury minerality which has me hankering after fresh oysters or sea bass and salsa verde.
Danebury wines are made using organic principles and with limited production in mind, there is a noticeable quality to this wine for what feels like a decent price.
Kinsbrookvineyard, Kin Bacchus 2019 - £16
Region: West Sussex
Grape: 100% Bacchus
Tasting Notes: One of my favorite Bacchus so far. The nose isn't overpowering with lime and neither is the palate high in acidity. For me, this creates a subtle Bacchus that is refreshing, herbaceous and floral. It is low alcohol at 10.5% and very easy drinking.
This minimal intervention wine is a perfect aperitif wine, pair with a light salad or seafood dishes.
One of the debut wines from Kinsbrookvineyard, this has to be one of the more exciting projects in the UK with the youngest vineyard owner (27) Joseph Beckett at the helm.
Winbirri Vineyards, Bacchus 2019 - £16.95
Grape: 100% Bacchus
Tasting Notes: Firstly, it's a lovely pale lemon colour that smacks of grassy goodness! On the palate white pepper, flint minerality, high acidity - literally like the wine has been poured over pebbles by the sea! There is also an intense vibrancy alongside an almost luxurious medium bodied texture through which the acidity races. Enjoy!
Winbirri Bacchus 2015 won the Decanter Wine Award for 'Best Single-Varietal White Wine in the World 2017'. I think this 2019 may well be another worthy Gold Award contender.
HUX, Davenport Vineyards 2018 - £19.99
Grape: 100% Huxelrebe
Tasting Notes: This wine is interesting because of the balance between sweetness and acidity. Slightly off-dry, fans of German Rieslings will want to try this honeyed, tangy, tropical delight. The labels suggest aromas of greengage are present and I wouldn't disagree, this wine has a similar rich, confectionary flavour.
Will Davenport planted 5 acres in 1991, 24 acres today. In 2000 the vineyards were certified organic and Will continues to seek sustainable methods to make wine. Solar panels fuel the winery, all the packaging is made from recycled products and his wines are all vegan friendly.
Stopham Estate Pinot Blanc 2018 - £15.99
(Overall winner IEWA 2020)
Region: Pulborough, West Sussex
Grape: 100% Pinot Blanc
Tasting Notes: You may hear of Stopham's Pinot Blanc referred to as the 'English Sancerre' (Simon Woodhead for Luxury Lifestyle Magazine). It is certainly dry with a lively acidity and saline minerality, you sense it would go well with goats cheese. It's medium bodied and has plenty of citrus aromas with a stone fruit finish. At 11% it is an easy going sip and one you won't regret buying.
Simon Woodhead, Director, was an F1 engineer before moving to Spain to learn the language. Falling for wine in Madrid, he decided to return to the UK and take the Wine Production and Business course at Plumpton Agricultural College. After spotting two fallow fields en route to a friend's house in West Sussex, Simon decided it was ideal for planting vines and in 2007 the vineyard was born.
Litmus Wines Orange Bacchus 2019 - £15
Region: Kent Grapes, Made at Denbies in Surrey
Grape: 93% Bacchus, 7% Ortega
John Worontschak is nothing short of the one of the leading winemakers in the UK. Chief winemaker at Denbies and Litmus Wines, he is striving to be the best and it would seem he won't stop until he gets there. Worontschak is a global wine figure in many respects and has brought his wealth of experience back to the UK and under the brand of Litmus wants to make still wines better than than the rest.