binTasting: English Wine Week
If there was ever a year to pop a cork and celebrate then 2012 has set you up nicely, whether you’re flying the flag for the Diamond Jubilee or hedging your bets ready for the Olympics it’s certainly a time (and excuse) for a celebratory glass of fizz perhaps?
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Strand House The Drang,
3 S Quay,
Next week, to nicely coincide with the Queen’s knees up, is English Wine Week. All over the country we will be creating awareness and support for our Bacchus pioneers and enjoying the fruits of their labour. For those who have yet to experience our home-grown English wines then can I wholeheartedly recommend trying a glass or two not only to ‘keep it English’ but to enjoy the surprising quality and variety available. A brief history behind the heritage of English Wine begins with a hat’s off to Julius Caesar who is thought to have bought the vine over to the UK from Italy, a souvenir to remind the Romans of their civilisation and prosperity. Through the decades a myriad of vineyard-owner-wannabes embarked on their own romantic venture only to discover the reality of the English weather and unsuitable terroir too much uncertainty to bear. Today of course vintners have the technology, experience and edgier climate to reduce such uncertainty and there are now some 400 English vineyards producing up to 2 million bottles per year.
Sparkling wines are certainly the success story. Cornwall’s Camel Valley Vineyards are achieving superb accolades including Gold and 4 Silver medals from the International Wine Challenge 2012 and Gold Decanter World Wine Awards 2012, impressive stuff when you consider the competition from our overseas benchmarks. In 2011 they were crowned rose sparkling world Champions for a second successive year in Verona, needless to say the futures bright for this family run vineyard who are certainly serious contributors in helping to raise the profile of English wine. From Cornwall to Sussex and beyond, upbeat wineries are in alliance to re-position English wine at the top of the market, amongst them Nyetimber and Sharphams.
So with that in mind, what to drink this party season? Keeping it Cornish then Camel Valley Brut is top of my list, a quintessential English sparkler with celebration built right in! Crisp and alive yet with all the structure and complexity of Champagne. Camel Valley Rose will pair nicely with your BBQ prawns and seared Tuna, dry in style with a real smack of strawberry fruit, super-easy to drink al fresco. Moving away from the UK shores then it’s got to be a more delicate Prosecco from those stylish cool-cats in Italy. Prosecco Spagarosso is fab, frizzante in style and uber-delicate it’s a perfect aperitif (plus great with cake!) Finally, if you’re planning a traditional street party with all the regalia then how about the gorgeous Contrada di San Felice, Toscana, Italy to enjoy with the perfect pork pie? (oh so British!) Middleweight and beautifully ripe, refreshingly dry to complement the fatty pork and salty pastry. Victoria Sponge and Battenberg? Other than a good old cuppa, then try Stump Jump Sticky Chardonnay, Australia not cloying but fresh fresh lemon acidity, think marmalade and butterscotch, bites of green apple, beautiful.
So set the scene and enjoy something just that little bit special and closer to home perhaps, some patriotic support for our hardy English wine growers, we have been given and extra bank holiday after all! Happy days!