UK vineyards raise glass to reds of ‘great promise’ and sparkling wines which are ‘joy to drink’

Grape times for East Anglian wines as quality continues to improve Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Grape times for East Anglian wines as quality continues to improve Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

East Anglian winemakers celebrated their growing importance at an annual awards event.

WineGB East Anglia awards head judge Rob Chase addressing the dinner Picture: IAN EVANS

WineGB East Anglia awards head judge Rob Chase addressing the dinner Picture: IAN EVANS - Credit: Archant

Around 50 bottles of the region's top reds, whites, sparkling and rosés battled it out at the Wine of the Year Competition, held at Copdock Hall, near Ipswich, and hosted by WineGB East Anglia.

Chilford Hall Vineyard Chancellor 2016 scooped the overall prize - East Anglian Wine of the Year - as well as Sparkling of the Year, while the East Anglian White Wine of the Year title went to Babu's Vineyard Solaris 2018.

MORE - East Anglia's sparkling wine 'can vie with best in world' say grape growersTuffon Hall 2018 was crowned East Anglian Bacchus of the Year, and East Anglian Rosé of the Year went to Burnt Foot and Coopers Croft Pinot Noir rosé 2018 in a dead heat. Flint Vineyard Pinot Noir Precoce 2018 was East Anglian Red of the Year.

Judges also awarded a range of bronze, silver and gold awards for wines across Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Chilford Hall at Linton, Cambridgeshire, scooped the top award at the WineGB East Anglia awards Pic

Chilford Hall at Linton, Cambridgeshire, scooped the top award at the WineGB East Anglia awards Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

There are now 450 acres under vine in the region which makes it the fifth largest in the UK. That acreage continues to grow by the year adding to the near 1m bottles produced in the WineGB East Anglia region.

WineGB East Anglia outgoing chairman Michael Rhodes said: "It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the evolving wine industry in East Anglia with the tremendous quality and variety of wine emanating from our region. This was very evident in the outstanding wines presented for judging in this year's competition. I raise a glass to everybody who entered this year."

"The University of East Anglia Climatology Department recently concluded that areas of East Anglia are the best in the UK for producing grapes for still wine and this year's high standard of entries reflects this terroir and climate well."

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Head judge Rob Chase said East Anglian wines were again showing signs of improvement with some varietals offering more than others. Warmer climates, technological advances and better training were all adding to that improvement.

Graham Addison from Chilford Hall accepting the Wine of the Year award from outgoing WineGB East Ang

Graham Addison from Chilford Hall accepting the Wine of the Year award from outgoing WineGB East Anglia chairman Michael Rhodess Picture: IAN EVANS - Credit: Archant

"The sparkling wines were a joy to drink while some of the reds had phenomenal colour - they could have come the northern Rhone, deep and dark. The reds are showing great promise," he said.

"The whites were an assortment with a variety of good wines, okay wines and some, including some of the bacchus needing a bit more time, perhaps, in the bottle. For rosés, East Anglian wine-makers also need to get together to decide on a consistency of style in order to create a clear marketable product. Overall though, East Anglian wines are greatly improving."

WineGB East Anglia has more than 50 members.

Nick Watson from Coopers Croft and Ian Pettitt from Burnt Foot, joint winners of the Rose of the Yea

Nick Watson from Coopers Croft and Ian Pettitt from Burnt Foot, joint winners of the Rose of the Year with Michael Rhodes Picture: IAN EVANS - Credit: Archant