11 English wines to try this English Wine Week
The Great British Food team
The Great British Food team
English wine is certainly having its moment. Recent years have seen the market steadily grow, and now this area boasts nearly 600 vineyards, with more and more people discovering the bounty of bottles being produced on their doorstep. And as proof of their quality, English wines are winning top awards around the world, with both sparkling and still wines making their mark.
Anjali Douglas, a wine educator at WSET (The Wine & Spirit Education Trust) says it’s an exciting time for wine producers and enthusiasts in England and she’s been watching the production of different kinds of wine with a keen eye.
“English sparkling wine now has a firm place on the world stage,” she says. “Wines made via the traditional method (the same way as Champagne) still account for the vast majority of production and are becoming more elegant, sought after and (sadly!) expensive each year. But there is also a small but fascinating emergence of a more affordable style of sparkling wine from England, made in methods that take less time to produce.
“More and more of us are drinking English Pétillant Naturel (pét nat) or Col Fondo wines - both of these styles don’t require the labour-intensive process of removing the yeast sediment that is used to give them their ‘sparkle’. These wines are often light in alcohol, fruity with a mouth puckering tang from the yeast.
“There is also increasing excitement around still English wine,” she adds. “Still versions of the key Champagne grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier are all made to high quality levels, and wines made from Meunier are gaining a reputation for being an English ‘signature’.
“Red wines can be the trickiest to produce in England’s marginal climate, but there is lots of buzz around reds from Crouch Valley in Essex – these wines aren’t cheap but they’re becoming as refined and complex as fine Burgundy.”
She also points out that there’s a whole range of more experimental options being created, too. “One of the lovely sides to English wine is the left-field, experimental, slightly eccentric makers that are out there,” she explains.
“These aren’t trends as such, as they’re often made on a small scale by individual producers, and they aren’t comparable to classic French wines, but tasting these styles can be joyful. From wines aged in amphora, quirky aromatic blends, orange wine and beyond – winemakers across England are fast developing their own identity.”
Here we’ve rounded up 11 different English wines for you to try. Enjoy!
Based in Kent, Chapel Down produces a variety of premium sparkling and still wines, grown in the chalky terroir of the North Downs, and this white wine showcases the team’s commitment to quality. Having gained recognition as one of England’s top still wines and Chapel Down’s best-selling white, the fragrant Bacchus White Wine is crisp and refreshing, with a nose full of gooseberry, elderflower and melon notes. It’s the ideal choice for all occasions.Shop Now
First established in 1972, Bolney Wine Estate can be found on the edge of the South Downs, and comprises five unique vineyard sites. The highly regarded, award-winning Pinot Noir is an elegant medium bodied wine with a silky texture and good ageing potential, which will allow development of more complex fruit flavours. When drinking, you’ll notice mouth-watering flavours of blackcurrant and ripe fresh fig, with notes of dark cherry and white pepper. Delicious.Shop Now
As a winner in our 2022 Great British Food Awards, this wine is definitely one to add to your shopping list. A boutique, natural vineyard making unique, award-winning wines and gin based in Kent, Terlingham Vineyard has been run by the Wilks family since 2011 and they’ve certainly made their mark on the wine scene. Made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this sparkling wine is a pretty rose petal pink with delicate notes of strawberry shortcake on the nose. On the palate, there are white cherry and wild strawberry notes with a fresh and tangy finish. We love it.Shop Now
First established in 1952, Hambledon is England’s oldest commercial vineyard, and the signature Hambledon Classic Cuvée is produced exclusively from Hambledon’s own estate on the Southeast-facing chalk slopes of Windmill Down in Hampshire. A blend of 52% Chardonnay, 32% Pinot Noir and 17% Pinot Meunier with tank-aged reserve wines added, it’s aged at least 35 months. It is vibrant, with structured yet ripe acidity and layers of floral and stone fruit aromas.Shop Now
For something a little bit different, why not try this dessert wine from Hampshire-based winery Hattingley Valley? Made from 100% Bacchus grapes, the very limited release Entice dessert wine is the perfect end to any meal. Expect a pale lemon-gold liquid with a delicious, honeyed character and a creamy mouthfeel that bursts with aromas of tropical fruits and blossom, and notes of lemon and elderflower on the palate. Sounds good, right?Shop Now
Located in the heart of the Test Valley in Hampshire, Cottonworth is home to the Liddell family who have been farming here for four generations. They are focused on producing high quality English sparkling wine from the three classic varieties: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and the south-facing slopes, chalk soil and temperate microclimate ensure the best conditions for growing grapes of exceptional quality. This elegant summery wine showcases a refreshing blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Precoce. We love the fact the magnificent display of red summer fruit aromas is beautifully balanced with a subtle backdrop of vanilla.Shop Now
With vineyards in Kent and West Sussex, the Gusbourne Estate focuses predominately on Burgundian clones, which yield smaller volumes of intensely flavourful fruit and thrive in our unique microclimates. This makes for real standout wines – and this English rosé is no different. Unashamedly decadent and delicious, it’s wine for pure pleasure. Laden with mouth-watering flavours of sun-warmed strawberries and citrus, it transports you to the heady days of a perfect English summer and is ideal for alfresco dining. Time to dig out the picnic blanket?Shop Now
Based in West Sussex, Hampshire, Nyetimber’s vineyards share similar characteristics with the best sparkling wine vineyards in the world. Greensand and chalk soils allow its vine to flourish and the climate encourages the slow ripening of the grapes for optimum levels of ripeness and acidity. The Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2014 is a stunning example of this style of sparkling wine. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, it has lovely citrus and white peach aromas, with a touch of minerality. The palate is fresh and crisp, with more citrus and white peach flavours, along with a hint of lemon zest. It’s a beautifully balanced wine with excellent acidity, and it has a long, elegant finish.Shop Now
With a strong focus on sustainability and the grape to glass process, the team behind Ridgeview are true sparkling wine pioneers. And this beautiful golden sparkling wine is definitely one to have on your radar. Rich with red berry, honey and biscuit aromas and with exceptionally fine bubbles, it’s the perfect option for toasting something special. The Pinot dominance brings depth and complexity to the palate with a long-lasting finish, whilst the Chardonnay adds finesse and freshness. It’s even been served at Lancaster House to the Prime Minster and UK business leaders.Shop Now
First established in 2010 by husband and wife team Mark and Sarah Driver, the Rathfinny Wine Estate can be found on a beautiful south-facing slope in the South Downs of Sussex. As well as producing some of the finest English sparkling wine, the estate also offers vineyard tours and wine tastings hosted at its RIBA-nominated winery and other seasonal events. As Rathfinny’s signature wine, this is a wonderful blend of predominantly Pinot Noir with a small quantity of Pinot Meunier. Emitting notes of mulberry and almond blossom, it delivers a mouth-filling perlage of baked blueberry and russet pear, giving way to a lively clementine finish. Stunning.Shop Now
As a non-alcoholic kombucha, we know this one isn’t strictly a wine as such, but it’s well worth mentioning. Brewed, fermented and bottled in Suffolk, it’s ideal for this time of year with its delicate and floral flavour and easy drinking profile. The English Rosé is infused with white rose petals and elderflower, and is delicately dry with a floral finish. Cheers!Shop Now