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Celebrating English Wines

My picks for the second weekend of English Wine Week celebrations. Not that they're only for English Wine Week. English wines are for every week of the year.

Sparkling rosés come first, because I tasted quite a few, followed by white fizz, then still wines– red, rosé and orange. All the fizz is made by the classic method.

Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé

Fabulous pink fizz from England's oldest commercial vineyard. Strawberries and toasted brioche with a dash of cream and orange zest. Poised and polished.

£34.95–36.50, The Secret Bottle Shop, Hambledon Vineyard, The General Wine Company, Virgin Wines, Berry Bros & Rudd

Camel Valley Rosé Brut 2019

Palest salmon-pink vintage rosé made entirely from Pinot Noir grown in Cornwall. Pristine purity and strawberry, raspberry, pomegranate and peach perfection.

Balfour Brut Rosé 2018

Elegant and dry, but riper in style than previous years, from a single 20-year-old vineyard planted with the three Champagne varieties at Hush Heath Estate in Kent. Crisp, peach, redcurrant and orange with gently creamy texture.

£33.99 (on offer until July 12), Waitrose; £45, Balfour Winery

Digby Leander Pink Brut

Pretty, fruity and refined with raspberry and peach, a touch of spice and fine texture.

£24 on offer until July 7 (then £30), Waitrose; £34–£35.95, Digby Fine English, Virgin Wines, The Whisky Exchange, Amazon

Rathfinny Blanc de Noirs Brut 2018

Black grapes only – Pinot Noir (85%) and Meunier – in the warm 2018 vintage at Rathfinny estate in Sussex. Biscuit, brioche, strawberry, and raspberry flavours with a delicate, fresh, mineral note

£38.95, Lea & Sandeman

Greyfriars Cuvée Royale 2016

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (50:50) fermented in oak and aged for four years post-fermentation. Still young, but already impressive – patisserie, apple, straw and toast flavours, with fine creamy mousse.

Another winner from the Sussex vineyard that pioneered Champagne-style sparkling wines in the 1990s. Pure Chardonnay – complex, sustained and sophisticated with beautifully modulated notes of peach, honeycomb, white flowers, vanilla, wheatmeal, grilled hazelnuts, citrus and salt.

£40, The Wine Society; £46 in gift box, Nyetimber

Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir 2020

Oak-polished elegance, generous red fruit and supple texture, with rose petals, sweet herbs and toast. A former Wine of the Week.

Gusbourne Pinot Meunier 2020

Champagne's third grape, Meunier, going solo as a still red wine at Gusbourne Estate in Kent for the first time. Fragrant rose, red cherry and redcurrant, shaded by gently spicy oak, silky texture and light tannin.

Sadly, not available at present.

Folc Dry English Rosé 2021

In a very difficult English wine vintage, Folc, or their winemakers Defined Wine in Kent, have done a good job in producing a crisp, sleek, pale salmon wine with peach, red cherry and redcurrant flavours and zingy, grapefruit acidity.

£16.99, Laithwaites; £50.97 for 3, Drink Folc

Saddle Goose Skin Contact Bacchus 2020

A delicious, textural orange wine made from England's signature Bacchus grape variety. This is another former Wine of the Week and, like Lyme Bay Pinot Noir above, is made from Essex-grown grapes.

Photographs by Joanna Simon


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