September 28, 2021
There is still time to enjoy British Food Fortnight, which will last until this Sunday [October 3]. Held during the busy harvest season, it is an event that has been around for 20 years and calls for a national festival of local produce. Here, Times Drinks editor James Viner highlights some Kent and Sussex wines to raise your glass to …
Bring out the local seafood and oysters. Say hello to the new small batch still wine specialist Wayfarer Wines in Kent
Not all English wines are sparkling. Although rarely under 15 pounds, there are also more and more white and red wine gems. The harvest takes place a little later in the year at still wine specialists such as Wayfarer Wines.
This year, Wayfarer’s Chardonnay grapes are expected to be harvested in mid-October, as Karen Kearns from the new Kent-based start-up Wayfarer Wine explains. She informed me, “We tend to harvest a little later than most vineyards as we are looking for higher sugar and lower acid levels than you would want for sparkling wines, which means a later harvest.”
It could still be the whims of the English weather later – some English vineyards picked Chardonnay in late November 2013!
The ripe fruit really sings in this very small, full-bodied, wood-free Chardonnay from the immensely impressive 2020 vintage. Think of the honeysuckle, citrus fruits and peaches that call out “seafood and oysters”!
Karen Kearns continued to rave about the food-matching potential of this charming, fruity wine and said to me: “My personal favorite place is the Chart Farm in Sevenoaks, which has our wines in stock and the most incredible new bar with fresh fish on Fridays / Saturdays!”
Kearns notes that its “light lemon-citrus notes” go great with fish dishes with delicate flavors, so crab meat or shrimp would work well too. It would also go well with a risotto made with fresh green vegetables like asparagus, peas, or spinach – or mushrooms in my opinion.
A great result from Nick Lane, the talented head winemaker at the specialized Canterbury contract winery Defined Wine (Nick had previously been a winemaker at Cloudy Bay for around 13 years).
Only 1,500 bottles were produced by Wayfarer’s two promising young vineyards in Woodchurch and Maidstone. Immerse yourself in seasonal native oyster slurpers!
Find her on Twitter @WayfarerWines https://twitter.com/wayfarerwines
Has the soda disappeared from your usual gin? Instead, try this vibrant and exotic London Dry …
Tesco Finest The Melodist London Dry Gin, England (Â£ 20, Tesco, 40%)
The great British gin boom, or ‘ginnaissance’, is showing no sign of waning. In fact, a record 124 net new distilleries were launched in the UK in 2020, up 28% from 2019 as demand for gin, rum and whiskey continued to grow.
This premium gin is produced in collaboration with the Two Tykes distillery and produced by Arthur Sikorski, Master Distiller at InterContinental Brands. Made from 100% wheat grain, it is distilled and bottled in the UK.
My kind of London Dry (unmasked by sugar) gin – a tip-top, exotic, but piquant mix of 12 botanicals, including yuzu, grapefruit and lemongrass, with a flaming bay leaf, green tea and juniper finish. Put it in a G&T and top it up with a garnish of rosemary and yellow grapefruit peel. A lightning strike of pure refreshment. Try crab or cucumber sarnies, a piece of stilton, or smoked salmon blinis (perhaps from Flimwell’s superlative, The Weald Smokery). It’s also perfect for a whimsical martini.
Oh, the beauty of bottle age! A nicely developed (90 months matured), tangy, silky, sparkling rosÃ© from East Sussex
Hoffmann & Rathbone RosÃ© Reserve Brut 2012 (100% Pinot Noir), Mountfield, East Sussex (Â£ 52, MR, 12%)
For a special treat, stash English Fizz for a year or ten and instead keep it to enjoy later with a special meal or someone special.
A sparkling rosÃ© wine made from Pinot Noir from a boutique winery run by husband and wife Ulrich Hoffmann and Birgit Rathbone in the picturesque village of Mountfield, with raspberries and a garnish of rose petals, plums and orange peel.
The 10 hectare property is planted with 50% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier. Melanie de Matos, Sales and Marketing Manager at H&R, told me that this outstanding pink sparkling wine is her “most versatile wine to go with”. [since] it is made as a real rosÃ© wine â. She said it goes great with traditional fish and shellfish and red berries, but I especially love it with a smoked duck pie and a dark chocolate dessert with a berry sauce.
Thanks to its increased acidity (away with fat and salt!) It is also a winner with salmon carpaccio, scallops and fish and chips – hello Marino’s and the Down Town Fish Bar in Tunbridge Wells! Only 2,500 bottles produced. really exceptional English rosÃ© wine that deserves our applause.
Find her on Twitter @__H_R__ https://twitter.com/__H_R__
Special spotlight on the wonderful world of Westwell:
Adrian Pike (above) is the managing director and winemaker of Westwell wines. The winery is located directly below the Pilgrims Way in the North Downs and grows four different grape varieties: Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Ortega.
Adrian, who originally had a background in the music industry – he ran the Moshi Moshi record label – has always had a passion for wine, but it was a 2014 Soho restaurant tasting of one of Will Davenport’s wines that led Adrian to to transmit his love to drink wine to make him.
âWhen I tried one of Will Davenport’s wines, I called him the next day! I then started studying winemaking and viticulture while working for him in Davenport, âsays Adrian.
He then moved to Westwell and took over running the business and team, most of which have been there since the vineyard was founded in 2007. Every single one of us strives to make the best sparkling and still varieties possible.
And what is Adrian’s favorite Westwell drink? âPelegrim. It is the most Westwellian of the wines we make – it reflects what the location is capable of: richer and full of wine with a fruity profile. “
This is a delicious, medium-heavy co-ferment of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, which, in addition to its striking purity, convinces with drinkability and great charm. I met Adrian Pike, Westwells MD and Plumpton trained winemaker, and asked him what a great combination would be for this miracle of an extremely drinkable, light tannin wine: 10 minutes before you drink it,
âIt works great with grilled meats and sausages, but also with a decent salad, I love a three-colored one and it goes well with it. I would also be tempted to combine it with fish, I know that the wonderful fish restaurant Angela’s of Margate offers it by the glass to match their fish menu. â
I also prefer that with slowly roasted crispy pork belly. It is also ideal on its own as a delicious, pale red aperitif. Very little is left of this vintage – only 1,800 artisanal bottles were produced – so snap up! Westwell will reopen to visitors around mid-November after the harvest.
Find her on Twitter @WestwellWines https://twitter.com/westwellwines
6 LOCAL WINES FROM SOME IMPRESSIVE INDUSTRIAL NEWS THAT YOU MUST TRY
- Ashling Park CuvÃ©e NV, W. Ashling, W. Sussex (Â£ 28-29.50, HolzWinter, GrapeBritannia & Ashling Park): a treat for fish and chips in beer batter
- Dillions Single Vineyard Bacchus 2020, Staplefield, W. Sussex (Â£ 16.50 – Â£ 18, The wine society & Dillions): one for oysters, smoked mackerel / trout & Caerphilly
- Roebuck Estates Classic CuvÃ©e 2014, Petworth, W. Sussex (Roebuck & GrapeBritannia, 34.99 â¬ -35 â¬): sparkling sparkler with seasonal oysters, clams and scallops
- Simpsons Rabbit Hole Pinot Noir 2020, Barham, Kent (Â£ 22.95-Â£ 26, Robertson Offer & Simpsons): only the ticket very slightly chilled for tender pink salmon fillets or roast beef / duck
- Westwell Pelegrim NV, near Ashford, Kent (29 â¬ – 29.50 â¬, Robertson & Westwell): a wonderful choice for seafood, especially seasonal native oysters, fish and chips, and seafood
- Yotes Court ‘On the Bridle Bacchus’ 2020, West Peckham, Kent (Â£ 15, YC): with fresh trout, shellfish and poached / grilled salmon
DE WINE AT A GLANCE
- There are now around 800 vineyards and 178 wineries
- Around 3,800 hectares under vines, with around two thirds (around 33% each) of the total area being grown on only two varieties: Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
- In the last 5 years (2017-2021) around 8.7 million vines were planted, which corresponds to an area of ââ1,977 hectares.
- Just over 98% of the vineyards are grown in England, with 1.5% in Wales and the remainder in Scotland and the Channel Islands
- Typically around 70% each vintage turns into sparkling wine and the rest is still
From data from WineGB and Wine Standards Branch (Food Standards Agency), 2021
Follow James on Twitter https://twitter.com/QuixoticWine