Five English wines you HAVE to try
- Credit: Archant
A new wine shop selling only bottles from this country is opening online and the Suffolk businesswoman behind the brand is excited to share her passion for homegrown varieties.
It's pretty fair to say that English wine's had a bad rep in the past.
Bottles from our isles would have fallen firmly into the 'cheap plonk' category, often being insipid, vinegary and utterly lacking complexity.
Oh how the tide has changed. Viticulture is on the up in the UK…and the awards have come streaming in. Nationally an undisputed champion has to be Nyetimber, with the brand's sparkling wine holding its own amongst the most desirable of French Champagnes.
While on a local level vineyards such as Flint and Winbirri are flying the flag, showcasing just what can be achieved with the right knowledge…the right soil…the right grapes.
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Latching onto our burgeoning fascination with homegrown varieties is Suffolk-based Katie Goodchild, who this month goes live with her online wine shop, Heritage Wines, entirely dedicated to English wine.
The young entrepreneur, who has worked at a senior level for Majestic, and has several WSET qualifications, says the time is right for us to really champion our country's brands.
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"It's right on our doorstep," Katie (who's dream is to have a small wine bar) says. "There's a lot to learn about English wine, and with everything that's going on at the moment with Brexit, goodness knows where we'll be in a few months and how currency and shipping will pan out. In the last few years English wine sales have gone from strength to strength but the supermarkets don't offer a great variety, and the odd independent will have a few, but there aren't many wine shops solely selling UK varieties to my knowledge."
Katie's online shop (due to be live soon) will sell wines by the bottle or case, with in-depth tasting notes for each one, and a section giving further information on English wines and grape varieties, with an appeal to both wine experts and those new to buying English bottles.
She hopes the site will encourage consumers to go out of their comfort zone and try something new, with advice available over the phone or by email. "Hopefully someone can talk to me and say 'this is the style of wine I like' and from this I can find an English alternative they'll like. I'm stocking producers I really like or have a connection with. In that sense I want my business to be as sustainable as possible so I'm looking to stock vineyards who share that ethos."
Follow Heritage Wines for more information on Facebook where details of the online launch will appear shortly.
Katie's favourite English vineyards
1. Stopham Vineyard have their own natural eco-system. They add manure produced by cattle on the estate to improve the soil structure. Minimum water is used, and organic waste is recycled on site. They produce sparkling wine and also two stills - Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Pinot Blanc you don't see to often here and it's not a wine or grape many people know so it's nice to get something different in. It's a nice alternative to chardonnay and can be peachy and a bit citrusy.
2. When I started at Majestic I fell in love with wine from the Languedoc and when I found out the English couple behind the brand had opened a vineyard in Kent I had to try it. Simpsons Estate is in Kent and their wine is wonderful. They do a rose which tastes more French/Provence in style which is so popular right now. And they've made a white Pinot Meunier. This is one of the grapes used in Champagne but doesn't often stand alone. It's quite interesting because it still tastes lightly of red berry fruits and it's partially fermented in oak so it's richer.
3. I've long been a fan of the Wiston Estate and I am going to be a stockist for them. All their wines are sparkling and they are just so so delicious. Apparently the lady that owns the vineyard spent 10 years trying to convince her husband to do it. Now it's blooming and doing really well.
4. The Uncommon produce sparkling English wine in a can. Wine in a can is very sustainable in terms of recyclability and their White Bubbly (semi-carbonated sparkling Bacchus) and Rose Bubbly (Pinot Noir rose) are great.
5. Locally I'm working with Flint from Bungay. I'm a big fan of their wines, especially their Bacchus and Charmat. I'll also have some of their pinot noir.
Other producers to be stocked by Heritage Wines include Black Chalk, Dunleavy, Oxney Organic Estate and Astley Vineyard.
And Katie has teamed up with Slate in Aldeburgh and Southwold, pairing a wine every month with their 'cheese of the month' online.