With English Wine week fast approaching (28th May – 5th June), what better time to pop some local specialities in the fridge to celebrate. As usual, I’ve been doing a bit of research to put a little swing into your celebrations. Hot off the heels of the London Wine Fair last week was an event that grabbed my attention the second I heard about it. As part of the Bristol Food Connections Fringe Festival was an English Wine Tasting where all the producers were from the South West Quarter of the country and I was surprised as there were a handful of vineyards even closer to my Bristol home than I ever realised. I love supporting wine produced in Britain, especially now that there are so many of such incredible quality.
The tasting took place at The Boardroom, a pub on St Stephen’s Street, just behind St Nic’s Market. It was an intimate affair with some real gems. The first stand I went to was the Dunleavy stand where Ingrid Bates was opening the brand new 2015 vintage of their luscious rosé. I’ve made no secret of my love for Dunleavy Rosé, made in Wrington Vale, just South of Bristol by Ingrid and Stephen. After weeks of trying, finally I managed to sample the infamous 2015 vintage at long last and yes – It’s even better than the 2014! I can’t wait to see it in the shops.
www.dunleavyvineyards.co.uk Twitter: @DYvineyards
Another treat was the Fenny Castle barrel Aged Ortega – A still white wine which was a pleasant surprise. The wine has hints of one of my favourite summer wines: Albariño with a generous stone fruit tang to this crisp and zesty wine. The wine is produced near the beautiful cathedral city of Wells where winemakers James and Jill have also started making a fantastic sparkling brut rosé. It’s the first time they’ve done this and the pale and subtle pink is delightful.
Guy and Laura at Smith & Evans are doing great things too from their vineyards near Langport in the heart of Someret where the limey soil helps give their delicious white fizz made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier great minerality and structure. It’s perfect to start a warm summer evening in the garden as you fire up the BBQ!
http://www.smithandevans.co.uk Twitter: @guythegrape
And don’t let me forget Sutton Ridge Vineyard in Somerset’s Yeo Valley near Blagdon Lake where young winemaker Luke Ford is producing an amazingly well rounded and fruity dry rosé. Luke planted vines that also make their delicious white and sparkling wines in 2011, 50 years after his grandfather bought the farm. Luke’s getting married there later in the year and he told me that the wedding wine comes from pretty close to home!… So get in quick before it’s all gone!
For more info email Luke@suttonridge.co.uk or follow Luke on Twitter @SuttonRidgeWine
Other exhibitors from just over the road were Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard from Redhill near Blagdon Lake, Wraxall Vineyard near Shepton Mallet and Oatley Wines from Somerset who were all showing impressive wines that do the West proud.
www.aldwickcourtfarm.co.uk Twitter: @aldwickcourtfrm
Furleigh Estate from picturesque Bridport in Dorset and Cornwall’s largest vineyard Camel Valley from were also showing excellent fizz worth a try this weekend.
I’ll be honest and say that I was expecting to taste wine that I could appreciate (but not so much that I’d wanted to buy it!) But what really impressed me was that I came away having tasted fantastic wine that I am happy to shout about not just because it’s from the West – But because it’s delicious. I’m quite surprised that the wines generally didn’t taste at all like I expected them to… You know, a bit like I’ve bitten into a crab apple and then nibbled on a lychee.
So check out their websites, Twitter handles, Facebook pages, ask about them in your local off license and regional branches of Waitrose to find out more.
Look at http://www.englishwineweek.com for more info or get on Twitter: @englishwineweek