Savouring the good things in life – reasons to try English wine
PUBLISHED: 10:38 28 October 2020
English wine is gaining in popularity and this winter could be just the time to try a few.
Corkk, which celebrates the emergence of high quality English wine by curating just a small selection of wines each month, employs a Master of Wine to handpick its bottles.
Founder Jonathan Piggins explains why it is important to support local producers and outlines some of the exciting developments in the world of English wine.
Q: Tell us a little about your Master of Wine?
Clive Barlow has been a Master of Wine for 20 years and has a wealth of experience, especially in English wine. Among other things, he has been the Director of Education at the Institute of Masters of Wine, a panel judge at the International Wine Challenge, a senior judge at the Decanter World Wine awards and founded the Canterbury Wine Festival. He selects what he considers the best, most characterful, English wines – just six each month.
Q: How does English wine differ from other wines?
It is distinctive, interesting and has a real depth of flavour - our customers are constantly saying they don’t find anything like it in the supermarket. This is down to the skill of the winemaker and, as a relatively new wine producing country, there is a tremendous amount of creativity, leading to a whole host of excellent, different wines. Our cool climate and perfect terroir ensure our sparkling wines are consistently world class but just as excitingly, our still white and rosé wines are also beginning to be recognised worldwide.
Q: Is English wine being recognised more abroad as well?
Yes, exports are on the rise, especially to Nordic countries and the Far East. We are increasingly winning medals at international wine awards (155 medals at the Decanter World Wine Awards) and very fact that the Champagne houses are buying up swathes of land in south-east England demonstrates show good conditions in England are for producing world class wines.
Q: Why is it more expensive than some other wines?
English wine is not mass produced, so doesn’t have the economies of scale, but, on the flip side, you get unique, characterful wines rather than bland supermarket wines - much more enjoyable! Tax and duty don’t help (nearly £5 of a £10 bottle of wine goes to the Exchequer) and, unlike established wine regions, we are only just putting in the infrastructure, so investment needs to be paid back.
Q: How would you advise someone to select an English wine?
Great question! If you know what type of wine you like, say a Sauvignon Blanc, then selecting a Bacchus wine, which has similar floral notes, would be a great place to start. Or, if you are curious and adventurous, try something that you don’t normally drink, such as an Orange wine or a Pinot Meunier. Take the same approach with a sparkling wine- try a Blanc de Blancs and some of our sparkling rosés are just delicious. Whatever the case, go with an open mind, take your time and savour what you are drinking.
Q: What would be your top six English wines for this autumn/winter?
The Wine Garden of England has some fabulous fizz and stunning still wines, which can be bought together in a case. These include Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Bacchus, Simpsons Canterbury Rose Sparkling Rosé, Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2014, Squerryes Brut 2016, Biddenden Ortega 2017 and Balfour Chardonnay Springfield Chardonnay 2018.
Q: Which English wine would make a great Christmas present?
To spoil someone, a bottle of Gusbourne 2014 Blanc de Blancs or Simpsons Roman Road Chardonnay 2019 (the 2018, sadly all gone, won Best in Show at the Decanter World Wine Awards). For something different and surprising, the Litmus Orange Bacchus.
Q: Which English wine should we look out for next year?
I will be looking out for more great still wines - English wine has come such a long way in a short time - and it will be interesting to see how good our red wines can be, especially Pinot Noir.