£25.06–£27.99, Amazon, Fareham Wine Cellar, The English Wine Collection, Grape Britannia, Amps Wine, Lyme Bay Winery
This beautiful English Pinot Noir – generous, oak-polished and elegant – is a perfect red wine to greet the burst of spring sunshine and warmth we’ve been having. It should also kick into the long grass any residual memories people still harbour of wan, thin English wines. It’s humming with raspberry, rose petal and sappy sweet-herb aromas and streaked with ripe plum and cranberry fruit with hints of wild strawberry and toast on the side. It looks expensive, I know, but for the quality it isn’t.
The label suggests the wine is from Devon, and that’s certainly where it’s made, but the grapes come from Essex, from five low-lying vineyards close to the River Crouch, an area which has been a well-kept secret by the wine producers in other counties who have been buying grapes there. Now that the secret is out, we’re sure to see more and more English labels proclaiming the Essex origins of their grapes in future.
What’s special about the Crouch Valley area? Good question. The answer is that it’s warm, relatively frost-free, thanks to the river, and it has clay – smectite-rich clay not dissimilar to the famous clay of Château Pétrus, no less.
Serve it cool with, for example, an organic roast chicken or guinea fowl with black garlic, lightly cooked salmon or tuna, York-style and air-dried hams, new season’s lamb or rose veal kidneys, balsamic roasted root vegetable or macaroni cheese. 12.5%. Empty bottle weight: 562g.
Lyme Bay Winery Pinot Noir 2020, England