It's no secret that I'm a bit of a grape nut and enjoy exploring and attempting to keep up with the ever changing world of wine. So I liked this paperback/pocket sized reference guide to English and Welsh sparkling wine the minute I saw it. In this day and age of Googling and online reviews it's great to see a book covering one of the wine world's most promising developments in the last few years. The rise of English, terroir driven sparkling wines. Travelling around more than 50 vineyards in England and Wales, author Stewart Wilde celebrates the vineyards that produce the best of English sparkling wine, all using the 'traditonal method' (French 'methode champenoise') and all having won awards at regional or national level. In my opion the three most important elements of wine are land, grapes and weather and in this book you will find details of terroir for each vineyard, the grapes grown, tasting notes and an engaging insight into the winemakers and their craft. And that just leaves the urge to go and try a glass or two of some wonderful English fizz myself.
What to do while Mr Suffolk Foodie is busy at the build up for the Goodwood Revival and I'm left home alone in the cottage rental? Ah ha! Tinwood Estate is on the door step so off I set with my good friend Jeannie who's in the 'Can't Paint Won't Paint' Club with me. We took along Scrappy, over from Barbuda and keen to see all that our green and pleasant land has to offer. Tinwood grows the three main Champagne grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meuniere. The soil is chalky and the climate perfect for making the Champagne style wine. I wish English Sparkling could have a more romantic and appealing name as it's not allowed to be called Champagne. How about Britagne? I believe there is a campaign to call English Sparkling wine plain and simple British Fizz. Maybe this could be part of the Brexit deal. Anyway, we had a walk through the very straight lines of vines, planted by Germans we were told, as they are better at straight lines. Then back to very stylish decked area for a quick tutored tasting of the three wines which are made for the estate at nearby Ridgeview winery. First we tried the Blanc de Blanc 2015, made with 100% Chardonnay, pale and refreshing and rather appley. Then on to the Brut made with 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. Very refined with a fine stream of tiny bubbles and a hint of toast, this was our favourite of the lot. We finished with the Tinwood Rose, 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, forest fruity and a bit of a quaffer. Tours run everyday and it's well worth ordering the cheese platter when you book online. You can even stay the night!
- view from the deck
- pinot meuniere grapes
- chardonnay grapes
- straight lines of vines
- Inside space for the cooler weather
- Outside in the sunshine
My perfect kind of Autumn activity ... afternoon tea followed by a tour and walk in an English vineyard; then a wine tasting. What an entertaining afternoon Jed our guide at Chilford Hall Vineyard provided. We learnt how to grow and prune grapes, pick them, make them into wine and all about different styles of English wine and grape varieties. The tasting at the end included 5 wines. A thoroughly interesting and fun afternoon and how lucky for us to have a perfect, sunny late October day.