September 2017 Meeting - English Wines

This month's presentation was given by Susan and Clive who explored English wines ... 


There are over 500 vineyards in the UK, many of them established for 30-40 years and many win prestigious international awards and medals especially for Sparkling Wines


English Wine or British Wine – What’s the difference?

Any wine labelled as British Wine is not made from English grapes, but is manufactured in Britain from imported grapes or grape concentrate.  Usually cheap and pretty nasty!


Two things about English wine.  Firstly, it’s not cheap – as you will find out later when you get the bill!  Secondly, we can’t produce good quality heavy red wines so the English red wines are lighter, like a NZ Pinot Noir or a French Fleurie but many of these are very good quality.


  1. Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Sparkling Wine

The Chapel Down Winery is situated just outside Tenterden, in Kent although they do buy in grapes from other vineyards across south east England.

The first vines were planted in the late 1970's and Chapel Down also owns a larger vineyard in Aylesford and has long term leases on over 300 acres of land in other parts of Kent where they have identified the ideal 'terroir'

Jamie Goode, Sunday Express Magazine said

‘This is a stylish fizz with some nutty richness. It's fresh, fruity and fabulous.”

Made from a mixture of 4 grapes, it’s pale lemon in colour, the nose has notes of red apple, lemon grass and fresh bread whilst there are flavours of fresh citrus, quince and hints of strawberry and brioche on the finish.



We’ve tried to find English wines using different grapes and from different vineyards without breaking the budget completely


2. Lamberhurst Estate Bacchus Reserve

Lamberhurst vineyard founded in 1970’s is another in Kent near Tunbridge Wells.

Bacchus is one of the most common grapes grown in England and many say it’s our equivalent to Sauvignon Blanc.

This example of modern English white wine is a combination of zestiness which is typical of English wine and soft richness, brimming with crunchy apple flavours and herbal complexity.



Chilford Hall

Our next two wines come from Chilford Hall Vineyard which is situated just 8 miles from Cambridge and we were lucky enough to go there for a winery tour and lunch.

It is one of England’s oldest vineyards and one of the largest in East Anglia with 17,000 vines in 9 different varieties.  The vineyard is on free draining “flinty” soil, overlaying chalk - soil conditions that are similar to those found in the Champagne region of France.  The pressing, fermentation, blending and bottling takes place on the estate and as a result they’ve received many awards from the UK Vineyards Association.


Chilford Hall Fire

One of the fascinating facts about Chilford Hall is that the mansion house and the banqueting facilities were burnt down 4 years ago by a disgruntled ex-employee. It has never been rebuilt and the insurance money has been invested in the wine business.

By the way, the arsonist got 4 years so he’s out now. So if any one called Mark does any work for you – Don’t piss him off!



3 Chilford White

This white wine is a blend of two grapes, Ortega &

Zee-Geh-Ray-Buh. Ortega is a grape that produces a lot of natural sugars and glycerol, which gives it a bit of body and more mouthfeel. The Siegerrebe is a pink grape that adds the floral undertones to the wine combining to give a clean flavour, a fragrant nose, fruity body and good acidity.

Siegerrebe in German means Victory Wine, presumably talking about World Cups not World Wars!



4 Chilford Rose

How do you make Rose wine? 

Leave the skin on the grapes during fermentation or by adding a bit of red wine. Answer???

Forbidden in France except one?

This is a blend of Muller Thurgau, Echo Burger and Dornfelder. All the grapes come from the same block and are processed together, rather than blend them afterwards. This gives the wine a more complete structure and it is deliberately made drier than most rose wines.



And now for Red wines.  No English red wine will satisfy the lovers of a heavy Burgundy or a fine Claret but judged for what they are both these are award winners.


5. Somborne Valley Estate Red

Somborne Valley Vineyards are situated in the heart of the Test Valley, Hampshire surrounded by scenic rolling chalk downland.

The Rondo and Pinot Blanc grapes have produced a well balanced, distinctive red wine which is filled with delicate notes of wild strawberry, mulberry and plum, complemented by a smoky finish, soft tannins and crisp acidity.



Bolney Estate is a state of the art family run winery in Sussex establisged over 35 years ago and is renowned for its award winning wines.

They started with white wines but decided to focus on red wines as they saw a real potential for making quality lighter red wines similar in style to the best New Zealand Pinot Noirs.


6 Bolney Wine Estate Dark Harvest 

This wine is made from Rondo grapes, aged for 6 months in oak to add some complexity.

This wine made headlines a couple of years ago when wine experts, including two of London’s top sommelliers scored it the joint highest scoring wine in a blind tasting of similarly priced European red wines..