Waitrose English Wines

Celebrating English Wine Week With Waitrose

by Angela Mount

This week is English Wine Week, and there’s never been a better time to celebrate the extraordinarily rapid success and growth, of our home-grown wines. English wines have been around for decades – in small quantities, of varying levels of quality, but with very little impact in the market. Fast forward to the present day and the situation is very different.

Led by the charge of high-quality English sparkling wines, made with the same grapes and in the same way as Champagne, English wine is now finally being taken seriously, and is winning clutches of awards on the international stage. This year, English wines have won more medals than ever in the highly respected International Wine Challenge, including numerous golds. And it’s not just about the sparkling wines – there has been a seismic change in the average quality and style of English wines, as vineyard owners and winemakers have worked out which grapes work best in their part of the country, and focus on producing styles of wines, which will stand proud against other international wines, albeit with their own, unique style.

New vineyards are popping up all over the country, although those in the colder north, are still few and far between; but the heartland of the English Wine Industry, running along the Southern coast from Kent and Sussex, through Surrey, Hampshire, and Dorset, right through to Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, is now slowly marching northwards, with an increasing number of vineyards dotted around Oxfordshire and other Counties.

Vineyard plantings have doubled to 47,000 hectares in the last 7 years, and the 2014 production broke all records, with 40% more wine being produced over the 2013 vintage. That equates to about 6.3million bottles of wine, of which over 1 million is now sparkling. Happy times.

This new success would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of a few leading, and powerful champions of the cause. The English Wine Producers Association has done a terrific job in gathering up these frequently tiny producers and created a cohesive and vibrant English wine marketing strategy and focus, which has weight and kudos. The big boys, and stars of the English sparkling wine industry, such as Nyetimber, Denbies and Ridgeview have also played a considerable role in bringing English wine to a broader reach and awareness.

One of the earliest, and most committed champions of English week is Waitrose. Without a shadow of a doubt, it’s the country’s leading retailer in this sector, with over 100 wines in the range, including a number of exclusives, and recently, their very own vineyard. They are passionate about championing the small producers, as well as the larger ones, and you’ll find local wines, in your local stores.


Chapel Down Vintage Brut
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Chapel Down Vintage Reserve Brut NV - Now £20.79

Angela's Rating: 16/20

Bright and zesty, this is an English fizz from Kent, which is full of lively, citrussy character. It reminds me of a Summer fruit bowl, full of strawberry, peach and ripe lemon scents and flavours. Creamy and smooth, it’s a lovely, smooth, gentle sparkler, with a delicate mousse, and hints of russet apple, ripe pear, and creamy cashew nuts. A crisp, refreshing style of English bubbles, with a hint of elderflower, it’s a perfect aperitif, and lovely with citrus and herb basted seafood and fish.


Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut
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Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut 2010 - Now £28.99

Angela's Rating: 18/20

Camel Valley, buried deep down in Cornwall, has enjoyed simply phenomenal success over the last 10 years, and their multi-award winning sparkling wines are knocking spots off top brand Champagnes in major international wine competitions. It’s only 25 years since grapes were first planted at Camel Valley, but owner Bob Lindo and his son Sam, are passionate craftsmen, who create wizardry and genius in their wines. Full, rich, ripe and toasty, this sparkling wine is made purely from the black Pinot Noir grape, and is packed with perfumed, red berry scents and flavours. There’s a fine mousse, as the wine sparkles up the glass, with wafts of melted butter and toasted hazelnuts. Rich, warm, fleshy and bold, this has masses of depth, and creamy concentration of fruit. Great on its own, but intense enough to cope with creamy fish dishes and smoked salmon.


Ridgeview Bloomsbury
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Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury 2012 - Now £18.74

Angela's Rating: 18/20

A simply dreamy, gorgeous fizz, from one of the leading English Sparkling wine producers, Ridgeview, in the South Downs, who have amassed more than 100 medals for their wines in the last 10 years. This is a multi-award winning triumph. Made from the classic Champagne grapes, it oozes pedigree and class. Gloriously aromatic, with scents and flavours of toasted hazelnuts, baked apples, brioche, and baked cream. With a filigree-fine mousse and a rich, creamy style it’s simply seductive in its rich glory. The bolder, richer flavours of this wine make it a worthy partner to baked salmon, smoked fish, and buttery chicken – most surprisingly, it’s rich flavours, yet cut-through freshness and citrus zip make it a perfect, and indulgent match to that great British classic Fish and Chips – what could be more perfect for English Wine Week.


Hush Heath Balfour Rose
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Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rosé 2010 - Now £35.99

Angela's Rating: 17/20

A delicate, fine-boned, thoroughbred beauty from Kent, which has won award after award since its launch. Nestled in the verdant countryside of the Weald of Kent, Hush Heath is an immaculate estate, boasting a Tudor manor, and exquisite gardens. From this oasis of tranquility, comes this ethereal, stylish pink fizz, made from the traditional blend of Champagne grapes. It’s peachy pink and pale in colour, with delicate, pretty aromas of strawberries, rosehips and even hints of freshly cut rhubarb. It’s gentle, and perfumed, with gossamer-light bubbles racing to the top of the glass. Silky soft, with a lovely citrus streak, the flavours are lively, yet complex – peach skins, the ripest of strawberries, russet apples and pomegranates are flavours that come to mind. It has a beautiful elegance and restraint, with a lovely lick of lemon and herb freshness on the finish. The perfect summer aperitif.


Nyetimber Rose
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Nyetimber Rosé 2009 - Now £45.00

Angela's Rating: 18/20

This vintage Rose, from one of England’s leading and pioneering sparkling wine producers, is a beautiful rose pink in colour, and wafts heady scents of red cherries and the ripest of raspberries, with just a hint of rose petals. You can smell and taste the pedigree in this wine. It’s open, opulent, generous, and complex, showing lovely touches of maturity and depth. With a stream of tiny bubbles, the flavours burst out, packed with a medley of summer berries – freshly crushed raspberries and the sweetest of strawberries, but with a creamy, elegant depth, and a toasty, buttery edge. Think about the very best sourdough toast, with lashings of Normandy butter, and a generous dollop of artisan strawberry jam – that almost sums up the heady indulgence of this wine, but streaked with a lovely whack of citrussy acidity. Gorgeous, and perfect for the summer with strawberries, but also seared tuna and barbecued salmon steaks.


Bolney Foxhole Bacchus
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Bolney Estate Foxhole Vineyard Bacchus 2013 - Now £15.99

Angela's Rating: 17/20

Bacchus is probably the most successful grape variety for still white wine in England. It produces fragrant, crisp, tangy styles, and this Sussex star is one of them. If you like fresh, vibrant, Sauvignon-style wines, this is well worth a try. It’s refreshing and tangy, with real depth and character. It’s packed full of zesty aromas of citrus, lime zest, green apples and gooseberries, with an almost salty tang. It tastes of ripe russet apples, and soft pears, with a subtle hint of marzipan and waxy lemons, and with a piercing, steely finish. Lovely elegance. Try this with goats cheese, a bowl of mussels or seafood, and crisp, vegetable salads.


Chapel Down Bacchus
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Chapel Down Bacchus 2013 - Now £12.99

Angela's Rating: 15/20

Another Bacchus, this time from Chapel Down, and produced from vineyards in Sussex and Kent. This one is succulent and super-fresh, with a perky, lemon and lime zestiness, and a deliciously refreshing tang. Bright and breezy, it’s full of green apple and citrus flavours, with a lively edge. Fresh, tangy scents of wild herbs, gooseberries and granny smith apples are balanced by a smooth, creamy edge. Perfect with the freshest of the South Coast’s daily catch of fish and seafood, it’s great with fish and chips, calamari, and also oriental fish curries.


Stopham Pinot Gris
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Stopham Estate Pinot Gris 2013 - Now £14.99

Angela's Rating: 16/20

Sussex seems to be the theme here, with another gem from the South Downs, this one exclusive to Waitrose Cellar, produced in a state of the art winery, housed in a converted Victorian barn, with vineyards on the banks of the River Arun. The fleshy, aromatic Pinot Gris works very well here, offering a heady perfume of elderflower, yellow plums, apricots and ginger. The flavours are exuberant and ripe, bursting with a cornucopia of melon, peach, nectarine and candied lemons. It’s full-flavoured and aromatic, but dry, with a delightfully fresh, tangy, citrus finish, and a smokey edge. The bold flavours of this wine will match well to roast pork with apple sauce, creamy chicken dishes, soft cheeses, and ginger and garlic- spiked salmon.


Bolney Pinot Noir
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Bolney Estate Pinot Noir 2013 - Now £15.99

Angela's Rating: 15/20

This delicate, gossamer-light red from the Sussex Downs is a shy, but fragrant wallflower. Pale red, and very light in colour, it looks like cherry-ade but taste a whole lot better! Burgundy’s Pinot Noir grape is starting to thrive in the relative warmth of the South Coast, but the wines are still delicate and almost fragile in their lightness, with an appealing, timid charm. The aromas remind me of the lightest of Beaujolais styles – gentle red cherry, rosehip and raspberry scents, with a hint of rosemary. Don’t expect a blockbuster, in fact, quite the opposite. It’s like a gentle breeze, or subtle whisper of silk, in its sheer lightness – a delicate mix of summer berry fruits, and fresh herbs, with a hint of fresh spring blossom. I’d love to drink this, chilled, on a Summer’s afternoon – it’s a perfect red for picnics, and simple alfresco lunches of salads, charcuterie and soft cheeses. It would also work with poached chicken, quail, and would be a great red for fish.


*This article is showing the prices and stock available on 26/05/2015.


Angela Mount

Angela Mount

Angela Mount is a wine expert, writer, and presenter, and is also responsible for the the range selection for online wine retailer YourFavouriteWines.com. She famously had her taste buds insured for £10million by her former employers Somerfield.

Read more articles by: Angela Mount


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