English Wine Week kicks off today, with vineyards across the country opening their doors to let visitors get a glimpse into the wonderful world of wines. We can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny day than wandering around English vineyards and tasting a glass of smooth, fine wine.
We’ve rounded up the best people in the business to explain why we should celebrate wine week, where you can sample the stuff and what wine you should bag now – just in case you haven’t discovered how great English wine has become.
On-hand to defend British wine from its critics, Thomas Shaw of one of England’s best-known vineyards, Three Choirs in the Cotswolds explains, “English and Welsh wine is made from grapes lovingly grown in our own country and painstakingly fermented into wine with great care taken thought the process. English and Welsh wines have a great variety of character and there are loads of vineyards open to the public to visit and taste the produce.”
Hidden in a secluded spot amid spectacular countryside is Wales’ oldest commercial vinery, the absolutely gorgeous Llanerch Vineyard. It’s dedicated to showcasing the very best of Welsh ingredients and the team are super excited about Wine Week. Ryan Davies of Llanerch says, “Wine week is a great time to explore Welsh vineyards and sample some of their excellent wines. It also marks the start of the growing season – a very exciting time in the vineyard, and great time to visit and have a tour.”
Champions of West Country food and drink, Great Western Railway has the perfect solution when it comes to sampling the best of British produce. The Pullman train services boast a spectacular fine dining service featuring a top-notch menu designed by celebrity chef Mitch Tonks. For something a little different, why not hop on and sample the best products of the bunch, along with a glass of wine, of course.
There are 130 locally sourced products on aboard now – and GWR’s Jo Elliot has tasted every single one. She says “Sourcing food and drink from local suppliers and producers is a tangible part of GWR’s investment in the region we serve. We now offer more than 130 local products on board and that includes the drinks we serve, such as Bristol’s 6 O’clock Gin among others. Stunning English wine to complement Mitch Tonks’ marvellous Pullman menu was a must for GWR’s ethos of community support, and Knightor Winery’s Trevannion 2013 vintage is simply perfect. It is the perfect accompaniment to our roasted Devon scallops served on a bed of spiced lentils and coriander – while the beautiful south coast views whizz by.”
Mitch Tonks, the superstar behind the Pullman menu, says, “I have always been bit sceptical about English wine but recently I have tasted some brilliant stuff, especially from Knightor in Cornwall. The wines are fresh, vibrant and clean and are a joy to drink with seafood. As the UK wine industry is growing, it’s great to see more types of wine-based drinks being developed – I tasted the first Cornish Vermouth last week and it was utterly delicious”.
To sip award-winning wine, head to Biddenden Winery whose Biddenden Ortega 2014 won a Silver medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Victoria says, “As a third generation family run business we take great care in the drinks that we craft here on the single estate vineyard in Kent. For us the wine making starts out in the vineyard, all the work is still carried out by hand and Julian and Tom are both vineyard managers as well as the winemakers so look after the entire grape to glass process.”
What to drink?
Trevibban Mill is Cornwall’s newest vineyard and winery, situated close to Padstow in North Cornwall. Their organic Pinot Noir, Black Ewe Red 2014 recently won a coveted Silver Medal in the International Wine Challenge. The tasting notes from the IWC Judges describe the wine as “Gorgeous wild and leafy raspberry fruit, lifted and floral with all the delicacy of a marginal climate but with the vibrant and tart fruit of English summer pudding.” It’s perfect with lamb and red pasta dishes.
Also, Trevibban Mill’s Rock Rose 2014 – released this spring – is proving popular with customers and restaurants, with Nathan Outlaw taking it into their Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac.
Knightor Winery produces outstanding quality, elegant wine and has a glorious restaurant housed in restored stone barns. When it comes to choosing what tipple to choose, Georgina from Knightor suggests, “Pair our award-winning Mena Hweg with local cheeses and desserts. The wine is made in a sweeter style, similar to German wine, and it is light green in the glass with delicate floral, citrus and peach aromas. Although the wine carries a residual sugar of 38g/l, on the palate, it’s well-balanced by the grapes natural acidity, which gives a tension and vibrancy, and leaves the finish clean and crisp.”