Category Archives: English Wine Week

Celebrating English Wine – Again!

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English Wine Week ends today (Sunday June 5th) and, of course, my wife and I have been celebrating by tasting some delightful examples over the past few days. But we also made a brief trip to Devon to visit a couple of the vineyards that are contributing to the rise and rise of English wine.

Devon may be less well-known as a source of English wine than, say, Kent or Sussex, but there are more than 20 producers there and its mild, Atlantic-influenced climate makes it a perfect place to ripen grapes, especially for crisp, refreshing (mainly white) wines.

Many of the county’s growers are small scale and only open to the public by appointment but others, like Sharpham, near the historic town of Totnes, welcome visitors daily (see www.sharpham.com for details). There, you can have a delicious lunch overlooking the vineyard (with a glass of their local product, of course!), taste a selection of wines and cheeses made on the estate and, if the weather is fine (as it was when we visited) take a marvellous walk among the vines and alongside the picturesque River Dart (see below).

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Further north in the county, near Tiverton, is another of our favourite Devon vineyards: Yearlstone. Smaller and less commercial than Sharpham, you always get a warm and personal welcome here – not least from the resident dogs! Timing your visit around lunchtime is a good idea as they, too, have an excellent café but you can also taste the wines and enjoy a peaceful stroll in the vineyard with its wonderful views over the Exe Valley (see below).

DSCN1352Yearlstone’s wines are well worth trying; they aren’t widely available outside the county, but you can buy direct from the vineyard (www.yearlstone.co.uk).

And that, perhaps, is part of the problem with English (and Welsh!) wines: they are made in relatively small quantities and so aren’t on every wine merchant’s or supermarket shelf. But do look out for them; either ask your local wine merchant or, if you have a branch of Waitrose close by, they are great supporters of English wines and have Sharpham as well as many other local names on their list.

 

Bristol’s Local Vineyard

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Grapes picked, wine made and bottled. For a vineyard owner, all that remains of a year’s journey is to hear what customers think of the latest vintage. So, a release party is always an exciting and nervous time, particularly when it’s just your 3rd commercial vintage and you’ve won International Wine Challenge awards for your first two.

But Ingrid Bates from Bristol’s local vineyard, Dunleavy, need not have worried. Her delightful, crisp but delicate Pinot Noir Rosé is, if anything, better than ever. Lovely pale strawberry colour, nose of crushed red fruits and a juicy, fresh palate – this is the perfect wine to serve lightly chilled on a warm summer evening in the garden.

DunleavyIngrid planted her vineyard in the Wrington Vale, just a stone’s throw from Bristol, in 2008 and made her first wine (just 100 bottles!) 4 years later. 2013 saw the wine’s commercial release and I’ve keenly followed its progress ever since. The 2015 has a smart new label featuring a design by a local artist and, more significantly, a screw cap replaces the previous cork closure – a sensible decision for a wine made to be drunk young and fresh.

At present, this rosé is the only wine Dunleavy produces although Ingrid has plans for a sparkling at some time in the future; one step at a time! The wine is available direct from the vineyard (email hello@dunleavyvineyards.co.uk) or (along with a tempting selection of other English wines) from local independent wine merchant Grape and Grind in Gloucester Road where the launch party was held. I’m sure it will also continue to be on the lists at a number of restaurants in and around the city.

Regular Bristol Wine Blog readers will know that I’m a great supporter of English wines and this Dunleavy Rosé just confirms that view. English Wine Week runs from 28th May to 5th June; make sure you have a bottle of something local handy to celebrate!