English Wines - What a Treat!
With May Bank Holiday weekend marking the start of English Wine Week (25th May-2nd June), what better excuse to get out in the sunshine and enjoy the best that our Kentish soil has to offer. Two of our Hubbies did just that, exploring maybe the two best known wineries in the UK...
Charlotte headed to Staplehurst with friends, where Hush Heath hosted two open days, which included live music, free-tastings, wine masterclasses and a vineyard tour, as well as huge discounts on its still and sparkling wines.
Hush Heath owners were expecting over 1,100 visitors on the Sunday alone, so the two-day food and drink extravaganza proved to be a huge draw for visitors from far and wide. Wines available on the day included a sparkling Balfour Brut Rose, Balfour Blancs le Blancs, the white and light Liberty English Bacchus and Charlotte’s favourite…Nannettes English Rose, which was blush in colour, and frankly, far too drinkable!
With deals on charcuterie platters, and plenty of locally produced ice-cream to keep the kids happy, Hush Heath really is a wine lovers paradise all the family can enjoy.
Meanwhile, I was in Tenterden celebrating my parent’s ruby wedding anniversary on an organic wine estate. The largest organic vineyard in the UK, Oxney Organic Estate celebrates all things sparkling, and was recently awarded an IWC Silver for its Classic Organic Sparkling Wine.
My trip to Kent concluded with a visit to Chapel Down. Starting with a short tour of the vineyards and tank room, the extremely knowledgeable guide explained that the previous two summers had been bumper crops, due to the great weather. 2017 was the first year the winery exceeded 1m litres, with this growing to an incredible 2.2m litres in 2018 – an increase of 120%!
We were then led to the tasting room where we had an opportunity to experience the results of this phenomenal harvest. Starting with a still 2018 Bacchus, which, with its resemblance to the Marlborough, New Zealand staple, would win over any hard core Sauvignon Blanc purist (including myself!). Next we moved onto the English Rosé, a clean dry rosé with notes of strawberries and cream and the Sparkling English Rosé Brut, the wine of choice for the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. The bubbles continued with probably Chapel Down's best-known export, it Sparkling Classic Non-Vintage Brut and its premium 2015 Three Graces, made in the same way as a French Champagne. We finished with a Pinot Noir – a light and smooth red, and were sad to hear this is the final time the winery will make red wine from the grapes grown in its vineyards. They have made the decision to concentrate on its sparkling heartland and use the Pinot Noir crop solely for this.
We wrapped up the day with a late lunch at the on-site restaurant, The Swan, where we enjoyed a delicious three-course meal, washed down with a bottle of the 2016 Bacchus Reserve.
A very special and surprising day. English wine really is something to be proud of and celebrated… where to visit next?!
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