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WINE OF THE WEEK: Saddle Goose Skin Contact Bacchus 2020, England

£20, Saddle Goose Wine

On the face of it, the only thing this straw-yellow wine has in common with the red wine that occupied this slot two weeks ago, Lyme Bay Pinot Noir, is the country of origin, England. That and the impressive quality. In fact, the grapes for both wines come from the same region, the UK’s new viticultural hotspot, Essex.

To all intents and purposes, Saddle Goose Skin Contact Bacchus is an orange wine, although it’s a long way off the extreme end of the spectrum. Its colour comes from the white Bacchus grapes being left with their skins in the cool of the winery (Defined Wine in Kent) for the first 18 days. During this time, fermentation started and Saddle Goose winemaker, Adam Collins, says he “worked the grapes quite a bit to extract more from the skins and encourage a little gentle oxidation.”.

His efforts were repaid with a lovely wine: fragrant with elderflower, chamomile and pine; a palate that balances structure and gentle chewiness with succulence and refreshment; and fruit flavours of baked apple and peach with zingy lime-zest acidity. Be warned: only 541 bottles were produced.

Interestingly, the 2021 vintage is from a vineyard in Kent. Adam explains that he “found a great vineyard that grows really lovely fruit and keeps any treatments to a real minimum. They’re close to the winery, which I also like from the sustainability point of view. I’m always trying to reduce my environmental impact where possible.” (Defined Wine also takes a sustained approach to everything.) I tasted the 2021 before bottling. Although it was a much more challenging vintage (and had six days’ contact, rather than 18), it’s another impressive wine.

One other admirable point to note about Saddle Goose before I get to food pairing is that it donates 5% of annual profits to the British Waterfowl Association, a charity dedicated to education about waterfowl, their conservation and improving standards of birds raised in captivity.

The 2020 isn't an orange wine that demands food, but it is very food-friendly. I set it a few meat, vegetable, fish and dairy challenges and it passed with flying colours: pan-fired pigeon breasts, chicken livers sautéed with leek, tomato, aubergine, port and herbs; roast endive; blinis with crème fraiche and onuga (I know, I know, onuga bears as much relation to caviar as a Kit Kat to single-estate 75% chocolate bar, but it’s comfort food). 12%. Bottle weight: 419g

Saddle Goose Skin Contact Bacchus 2020


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