English wine week usually means 7 days of kick ass promotions from retailers, visitor bonuses onsite at vineyards and a gloriously chaotic week venue hopping around London tasting releases and scribbling busily at masterclasses. While the retailer promos were still kicking off (thank god!) the rest of the activities moved online to a digital flurry of zooms and ‘e-tastings’…Innovative and necessary but man did I miss the buzz of a good old face to face energy exchange.
It doesn’t take a genius to recognise the struggle the hospitality trade is experiencing the globe over and it was important to meditate a moment on the true value our doorstep English vineyards hold.
The UK currently has over 500 awesome vineyards, plantings of 29 varietals and produces a plethora of styles from sparkling to still, from red to rose. The premise for the week’s activities was to Discover, Taste, Enjoy… and that I bloody did.
My mate Tom, of @bottleandjug in Worthing, and I did a Dealers Choice switcheroo and traded a mixed case from each of our shelves. I ain’t gonna lie, the switcheroo was performed weeks ago and it was a damned stroke of luck that Tom included 2 banging bottles of English sparkling in our trade-off to coincide with the date. At least I’m honest.
English wine number one was a radical ’19 fella from the inimitable Tillingham vineyards in East Sussex. Winemaker Ben Walgate crafted a true fruity funk bomb from Phoenix, Schonburger and Rondo smacking of lychee and rose with a lush sherberty mouthfeel. At 9% it could be considered a nawty fruit punch for grown ups- seriously fun and ultimately smashable. Cloudy and chewy, this mind bending bottle was whole bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel with the Schonburger foot crushed and macerated in whole clusters for extra punch. Brace yourself for a gushy opening as, without racking, the sediment leaps out of the bottle once the crown cap is removed. Naturally farmed with no additives, preservatives and minimal intervention this authentic, characterful pet net is a wild charmer brimming with personality. Drink young and chilled knowing each glass will pour a different shade and texture as you work your way down the bottle. Serious fun and radically creative you’d be a fool not to contact Tom @bottleandjug immediately to begin your adventure.
English wine number two came from Renegade urban winery in London- they ‘break the rules one bottle at a time’, just how I like it. For starters the label art is rad, featuring the eyes of different UK residents from all backgrounds and walks of life; highlighting the awesome humans that make London the magical melting pot that it is. I cracked open the ‘Anna’ cuvee, a ’18 skin contact Gewurtztraminer coming in at 12.5%. The grapes were bought in from Pfalz Germany, destemmed in Bethnal Green by hand, fermented on skin for 60 days and aged in used French oak barrels. If you’re familiar with the grape you’ll know that Gewurz is an aromatic chappy and the Anna smacked of rose petals and Turkish delight with a cheeky hint of apricot. The finish was the gift that kept on giving, long and textured with herbal tea qualities on the structure and mouthfeel. De-freaking-licious, I could drown in this and die happy. Oh, and I’m not having none of that ‘German grapes, how’s that English wine’ nonsense. If it was a beer made in London from overseas ingredients you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
Renegade regularly throw open their doors to the public for wickedly fun hands on wine making experiences and Tillingham’s gorge new visitor centre is also welcoming guests again now lockdown restrictions are easing. Let’s get involved!
You can catch the entirely unedited (I’m a busy woman) Instalive featuring these English wines by heading to @southsea_wine_siren and tune into our next one Thursday 2nd July 19:30. We’ll be focussing on emerging territories & cracking on with some banging beauties from India & Slovakia so if you’ve got a yearnin’ for some wine learnin’ then join us for a chat n’ a chug!
Visit thegrapeslayer.com for natural wine club awesomeness and don’t hesitate to give me a shout with any questions you may have!