As this year's English Wine Week kicks off, we consult the experts and discover some award-winning tipples grown on our very own shores...
No longer deemed a hobby to dabble in, wine growing has become a recognised and respected industry in England over the last ten years with some big-hitting producers delivering impressive tipples.
There are now 432 commercial vineyards in England and Wales, and 124 wineries, turning out 2.58 million bottles in an average year. Pretty impressive when you consider for a moment the temperamental weather conditions that growers contend with.
Established players like Camel Valley and Nyetimber are now being chased by newcomers who are producing English wines with award-winning credentials. So to celebrate English Wine Week, we’ve chosen our top three tipples to try this summer…
In the space of 10 years the English wine scene has gone from something of a hobby to a now internationally recognised industry and Chapel Down vineyard in Kent is in the thick of this English wine explosion. Now a player on the global wine scene, the good people at Chapel Down have recommended their top tipple for 2014 - the Pinot Blanc 2011. Billed as an excellent choice for an aperitif, this Pinot is 'fragrant with subtle layers of flavour including aromas of apricot, citrus and jasmine'. The experts tell us it's a rich, dry wine that's delicious with shellfish, especially oysters, and you can get your hands on it at Selfridges, Majestic Wines and Harvey Nichols.
Single bottle, £13.95, case of 6 for £83.94
Recently awarded a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge, the Gusbourne Estate Brut Reserve comes from a small Kent-based vineyard, produced solely by the grapes grown on the estate. 2009 produced an excellent vintage, thanks to favourable weather and led to tasters singing the praises of this Brut, describing it as offering 'bright lemon and white stone fruit with aromas of freshly baked bread, apple pie and toffee apples'.
£27.99, available from Lea and Sandeman, Oddbins and The Wine Pantry
As picturesque settings go, Camel Valley is hard to beat. Situated on the sun-drenched slopes next to the Camel River, the estuary that leads in to Cornwall, the vineyard is viewed by many as the number one winery in the country. For visitors to Cornwall, it's well worth hiring bikes and cycling for the day on the river path to enjoy a glass of fizz at the top of the hill and soak up the beautiful surroundings of the vines below. We can't guarantee getting back on the bike will be so easy on the return leg but we can recommend Camel Valley's 2012 Pinot Noir Rose Brut. This year it won a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge and was described in the tasting as having 'characteristic aromas of hedgerows and apple orchards, leading to a focussed, well balanced palate and a pure, refreshing finish.'