With summer and the Jubilee on the horizon, why not sample some of Britain’s finest wines – from tasty sparkling to approachable whites and a couple of characterful reds too.
The aim of these wines is to offer the perfect accoutrement to your Jubilee tea parties and, indeed, any excuse you have to celebrate this summer. Many wines produced here are utterly fascinating and are so worth seeking out. They’re often not the cheapest and, in these inclement times, that can be a challenge but so much work and manpower goes into producing these wines: it seems that now, more than ever, we need to support the talented and passionate people creating these fantastic and home-grown wines.
The Queen has been on the throne for 70 years, which feels worthy of a raised glass. What better way than a loyal toast of wine from the British Isles, says Alix Chidley-Uttley
1. Ashling Park Estate
60% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier. 12% ABV
This is an extremely drinkable fizz, and the perfect accompaniment to summer nibbles in the garden. The acidity is characteristically firm, (think stylistically of predominantly chardonnay-led champagne) and yet deliciously creamy with the classic toast and yeasty notes. Worth keeping on hand for those long summer evenings – if you can resist holding out for the finer weather, you won’t be sorry.
Available from Tanners, tanners-wines.co.uk
Blanc de Blanc 2016, £60
100% Chardonnay. 12% ABV
Based near Lewes in East Sussex, Ridgeview is widely regarded as one of the top players in the production of English sparkling wine. Celebrated for their elegance, Ridgeview’s fizz is consistently delightful. The 2016 Blanc de Blanc is the higher-end price wise but is limited edition – perfect for any loyal lovers of English fizz and is the epitome of finesse and decorum. This 100% Chardonnay sparkling is one for celebrating with close friends, be it fish and chips or maybe salmon? Whatever your summer dietary choices, this wine is the bees knees. Worth the splurge.
Available from Ridgeview, ridgeview.co.uk
3. Busi Jacobsohn
Cuvee brut 2018, £38
60% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir. 12% ABV
This single estate wine hails from Eridge in East Sussex. Sustainability is an important aspect to this Swedish and Italian husband and wife team. Focusing on habitation and encouragement of the vineyard as an ecosystem for wildlife, there’s a lot to admire here, and their wine is no different. Lemony freshness, with cox apple and sweet cinnamon bursting from the glass. A creamy mousse and density of fruit makes this wine rich yet vibrant, drinking beautifully now but will age. Put one or two in the cellar or under the stairs and revisit in a couple of years. If ever you wanted to wolf whistle a wine, this would be it.
Available from Yapps in Mere, yapp.co.uk and busijacobsohn.com
4. Davenport Limney
Organic Sparkling 2016, £28.50
80% Chardonnay, 12% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Meunier. 11.83% ABV
Another Sussex winery, they breed ‘em well in this county! Certified organic and five years’ bottle age, this is a delectable wine to say the least. Despite it being a little older, this is youth personified. Vintage English fizz is good value for those looking to age their sparkling and the Davenport Limney has real longevity and ageing ability. Peachy and honeyed, it’s already showing great potential. Perfect for kicking off your Sunday lunch or toasting the end of a hectic week. Put a bottle on ice and dust of the champagne saucers!
Available from Davenport Vineyard, davenportvineyards.co.uk
£25.50 or £31 – depending on supplier
Pinot Noir/ Chardonnay blend. 12% ABV
Down to the always charming Totnes, to an estate listed in the Domesday Book. Sharphams have been producing wines for 40 years and the fruit of their labour is to be admired. Lees ageing characteristic reigns triumph here, 28 months to be precise, and those toasty and brioche flavours linger on the palate with delicacy and are accompanied by a clean vibrancy of acidity, neither linear nor weighty. This is summer in a glass, a cliché perhaps but true enough. Subtle yet lively, this is all aromas of elderflower cordial and hot croissants. Delicious as it is easy going. Scrumptious!
Available from Sharpham.com and johnsofinstow.co.uk
Cuvée Chérie Demi-Sec, £28.99-£38
100% Chardonnay. 12% ABV
This off-dry sparkling is English fizz with bells on. Utterly delicious. Put it with seafood, put it with canapes, put it with spicy Asian cuisine or your afternoon Eton Mess in the garden. Underrated and often eclipsed by drier styles, it shouldn’t be because it is summer and fruit pudding in your flute. Elegant, eccentric and opulent. Their head winemaker Cherie Spriggs has a renowned talent, which is shown here in this wine in all its stylish glory.
Available from Nyetimber, nyetimber.com
7. Fox & Fox
Expression Saignée Brut Rosé, £39
65% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Meunier and 5% Pinot Gris. 12% ABV
Limited edition, they state only 500-700 bottles are produced a year, so this wine can be tricky to find. This rosé fizz is plush, has a fair amount of weight and is a structured and genial wine. Aged but years left. Classically French varietals with a bright and bold English twist.
Available from Fox & Fox Mayfield, foxandfox.wine
8. Halfpenny Green
Penny Black. £10.50
Madeleine Angevine and Huxelrebe. 11% ABV.
This is the very essence of English table wine: aromatic, ample acidity and crisp orchard fruit. It feels like a glimpse into summers past. The blend of Madeleine Angevine and Huxelrebe are a perfect match. Halfpenny Green was started by a farmer with an eye on producing good English wines, family-run and, if you find yourself in South Staffordshire, they have a wonderful tea-room and restaurant.
Available from Halfpenny Green, halfpennygreen.co.uk
9. Lyme Bay
Chardonnay, 2020. £23.49
100% Chardonnay. 13% ABV.
Down in the beautiful south-west, in the equally charming Devonshire’s Axe Valley, is Lyme Bay Vineyard. Known for their very modern style, this vineyard is producing some cracking wines and their Lyme Bay Chardonnay is on the nose. You can taste the oak but it doesn’t knock you over. Apricots and orange peel, soft ripe apple and all the elegance of a white Burgundy. Lyme Bay have smashed it with their table white: utterly delicious. Ding-a-ling!
Available from Lyme Bay Winery, lymebaywinery.co.uk
10. Lyme Bay
Pinot Noir Rosé, 2019, £17.99
100% Pinot Noir. 11% ABV
This wine has a softer edge than many rosés, has a good acidity but is far from austere. There’s a plentiful supply of raspberries and peaches with a pinch of that delightful and fragrant rose water. Think allure and sophistication in abundance. Lees ageing and six hours on the skins to produce that delicate and enviable colour, it wouldn’t be boastful to say that this Devonshire rosé could put a plethora of Sancerre rosés in the shade. Just wonderful – put it with salmon blinis or a host of seafood for your garden feasts and keep one in reserve ready for that Indian summer.
Available from Lyme Bay Winery, lymebaywinery.co.uk
11. Cairn O’Mohr
Gorse Wine. £14.50
Something a little unusual here but very enjoyable nonetheless! Made from hand-foraged wild gorse flowers in the Sidlaws Hills, Perthshire. Worth acknowledging that harvesting these is not easy – given it’s a plant with thorns in place of leaves! Mead lovers will be fans of this honeyed flavour, the bottles are also sealed with wax and have a traditional feel. These flower and leaf wines have a long history and are seeing something of a renaissance, so why not indulge in an example of how these hedgerow wines really can taste. Recommended with smoked trout – go on, give it a whirl.
Available from Cairn O’Mohr, cairnomohr.com
12. White Castle
Pinot Noir Reserve 2019. £30
100% Pinot Noir. 12% ABV
This Welsh Pinot Noir is a trail blazer: it has received countless write-ups and is widely praised, with good reason. This wine is every bit the light Burgundian of old, it feels like a Beaune from twenty years ago with all that soft red fruit and gentle acidity. Whilst it’s not inexpensive, it is terribly good and for those looking for something with a bit oomph, this is the one. All the grapes are hand-harvested, the oak is subtle and smokey. This is a more serious player than most and is coterie worthy. Classically Pinot Noir, feels very old world, but with a very Welsh essence – it feels patriotic and proud and has a staggeringly good finish. Get this in your basket before it sells out, again!
Available from whitecastlevineyard.com