Our Cup Runneth Over

POSTED ON 07/11/2015

The 135 wine producers of England and Wales will be popping corks today at the quality of the wine bubbling under in wineries the length and breadth of the country. With more moonshine than sunshine in July and August, an Indian summer has revived their hopes for a vintage year in more ways than just the year of harvest. In case you’ve been on Pluto recently, you’ll know that English sparkling wine has come of age and now accounts for roughly two-thirds of the 4.5 million bottles of English wine made.

Since Nyetimber started the bubble revolution back in the mid-1980s, the planting of the champagne grapes chardonnay and pinot noir has been so successful that the industry is predicted to double production over the next few years. If you have read this column regularly, you’ll know that, Nyetimber apart, names such as Ridgeview, Gusbourne, Wiston, Hush Heath, Camel Valley and Coates & Seely have distinguished themselves so consistently they they’ve become what you might call the usual suspects.

What’s been exciting this autumn is the number of newer labels showing astonishing high quality given the youth both of their vineyards and their projects. Hampshire-based Hambledon launched its first Première Cuvée, £42, Berry Bros., in May and it trumped all the serious sparkling wines at Berrys’ recent tasting for its subtle toasty aromas and beautifully rich, complex mousse. Also from Hampshire, Corinne Seeley’s first release, a pure chardonnay 2011 Exton Park Blanc de Blancs, £39.95, www.extonparkwines.com, shows subtle brioche notes and a tangy Granny Smith bite.

Waitrose, which accounts for three in five bottles of English wine sold in supermarkets, brought out its own sparkling wine last year, made from grapes grown on its Leckford Farm. The second vintage, the 2012 Leckford Estate Brut, £29.99, is an impressive fizz, with a swirl of malty rich aromas and beautifully rich, creamy mousse ending with a fine tangy nuttiness. Not new, but much improved meanwhile, the Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut, £22, Sainsbury’s, is rich and biscuit with delightful orchard apple mousse. Watch this space for wine legend Steven Spurrier’s Bride Valley.

Something For the Weekend 7 November

Night In

2014 Le Grand Clauzy Chardonnay

A light touch of oak is applied to this southern French chardonnay to round it out and bring a buttery feel to the refreshing pineappley fruitiness, making for an appetising Mâcon-style dry white. £4.37 reduced from £7.45, until Monday, Asda.

Dinner Party

2005 Ontañon Rioja Reserva.

Impossibly young for a 10-year-old, this medium-bodied blend of tempranillo and graciano shows the classic autumn bonfire smokiness of rioja while the dark berry quality is etched with a lively natural freshness. £13.50 - £14.95, WoodWinters, Noel Young, John Hattersley Wines.

Splash Out

2011 Gran Cabernet Franc, Pulenta Estate

The cabernet franc grape ripens beautifully in Mendoza and Pulenta produces one of the best, with aromatic notes of red pepper and Worcester sauce, a succulent mouthful of opulent, spicy berry fruits with an elegantly savoury finish. £26.50, Oddbins.

Our sponsor