With the latest sparkling wines covered in Part 1 of my April round-up, it's now time to let the still wines take centre stage. And what a selection I have here, all being fresh and youthful releases from the brand new 2018 vintage.
I've begun with a duo from the ever-exciting Simpsons Wine Estate. The standout wine is their brilliant 'first-of-a-kind' Derringstone Pinot Meunier 2018 (£19.00), which is a Blanc de Noirs white wine that provides striking complexity and beautiful textural qualities. This is a must-try wine. Their Railway Hill Rosé 2018 (£19.00) is similarly delightful, while Roberson stablemates, London Cru, have delivered an intense and aromatic expression of Bacchus in their Baker Street Bacchus 2018 (£15.00). Oh, and then there's the Polgoon Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£15.95), an attention-grabbing Gold Medal winner at the IEWA 2019 that I think is going to surprise a lot of people.
And then there's a second Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (£13.50) from Greyfriars in Surrey, which is a distinctly zingy and tropical take on the much-drunk grape and quite a contrast to the more delicate Polgoon. Both of these wines are sure to surprise a lot of people. And finally, I've included my first red of vintage 2018, the Flint Vineyard Pinot Noir Précoce 2018 (£20.99).
New Vintage Still Wines
Simpsons Derringstone Pinot Meunier 2018
REGION: Kent GRAPES: Pinot Meunier
During the planting of one of the Simpsons’ vineyards, I discussed the idea of English still wines with Charles Simpson and fellow GBW writer, Robbie Priddle. Specifically, we talked about still Blanc de Noirs, i.e. white wines made from red grapes. While we were thinking Pinot Noir, I like to think that this discussion had planted a seed in Charles’s head for this first-of-a-kind white Pinot Meunier.
And what a wine it is! The colour is quite golden for a young wine, with just the slightest hint of bronze. There are aromas of cranberry, crushed almond and dried flowers; it's subtle, but delicately nuanced at the same time.
The palate is where the Derringstone really excels. Firstly, you've got that signature English acidity and vibrancy, but that is partnered with a leesy richness and riper, almost honeyed stone fruit on the mid-taste. But then it takes a darker, savoury turn, with bitter nut and orange peel.
Wow, this is such a unique wine. It's packed full of distinctive charm and subtle nuances that just gets better and better with each sip.
- Buy from Roberson Wine £19.00
London Cru Baker Street Bacchus 2018
REGION: Kent GRAPES: Bacchus
Urban winery London Cru has toyed with Bacchus a few times, long before its announcement to re-focus solely on English wine last year. Its latest release of Baker Street Bacchus 2018 feels like a 'coming of age' amidst the change of focus and winemaker.
It's made from fruit sourced from both Kent and West Sussex that is hand-picked and then transported over to the winery in Fulham for pressing. It's partially oak-fermented (10%) for texture only, as well as being aged on lees for five months.
The resulting wine is wonderfully aromatic thanks to the selection of yeasts that accentuate the grape's best qualities. It's super fresh on the nose, with a fusion of green citrus fruits, bright floral notes and lovely, open aromatic qualities.
The Baker Street Bacchus has a super-punchy palate, bursting up front with zesty lime and pink grapefruit energy. I really enjoyed the textural qualities and intensity of this wine which feels perfectly placed as a showcase Bacchus for the on-trade as a versatile food-pairing choice.
- Buy from Roberson Wine £15.00
Polgoon Sauvignon Blanc 2018
REGION: Cornwall GRAPES: Sauvignon Blanc
This wine really hit the headlines this month, as it is was the first English Sauvignon Blanc to not just win an award, but a Gold Medal at the IEWA 2019. Polgoon is based in Penzance, Cornwall, and run by John & Kim Coulson.
The nose has an air of familiarity with wispy grassy tones, green citrus zest, gooseberry and a crushed stone minerality.
To taste, the Polgoon is a fusion of crisp, zesty citrus and green apple, with flavours of melon, pear drop and tangy tropical fruit notes.
This wine is really quite striking and develops more of a floral, grassy finish with a slightly herbaceous note of fennel or anise. What a fascinating wine from Polgoon!
- Buy from Polgoon £15.95
Greyfriars Sauvignon Blanc 2018
REGION: Surrey GRAPES: Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyards of the Surrey Hills member, Greyfriars, are continuing to push the boundaries with their still wines. They have been quietly growing Sauvignon Blanc to produce both still and sparkling wines over the last few years, and this, their third still vintage, is the first they have confidently labelled as Sauvignon Blanc.
On the nose there's plenty of green fruit notes with hints of tropical fruit and white flowers with light, grassy, vegetal notes.
To taste, the Greyfriars begins with an intense burst of tangy green apple, lime zest and passion fruit. There's quite a distinctive elderflower note on the finish, along with gooseberry and a continuation of the citrus zing.
It's a fresh one this wine, but the intensity and vivaciousness are sure to take a lot of people by surprise.
Simpsons Railway Hill Rosé 2018
REGION: Kent GRAPES: Pinot Noir
From its slender, elegant bottle to the appealing peach skin pink hues, you just know this inaugural rosé from Simpsons Wine Estate means business.
The Railway Hill Rosé 2018 is made from 100% Pinot Noir, and hasn't gone through malolactic fermentation in order to preserve fruit purity. The result is a vibrant wine bursting with citrus energy and bright English summer berry aromas.
The taste is charismatically zingy, with a fusion of lively pink grapefruit and tangy cranberry and raspberry flavours. Then there's a pretty rose petal aromatic charm, hints of juicy white peaches and a long drawn-out finish.
Overall so very elegant, this would be a delicate food-pairing rosé.
- Pre-Order from Roberson Wine
Flint Vineyard Pinot Noir Précoce 2018
REGION: Norfolk GRAPES: Pinot Noir Précoce
This is the first of Flint Vineyard’s 2018 vintage wines that I have tasted, as it felt appropriate to sample a youthful English red alongside British lamb on Easter Sunday.
This is Flint's second vintage of red, which is made from early ripening Pinot Noir Précoce that was partially fermented in Burgundian oak.
With a delicate ruby complexion, the Flint has a colourful nose of red cherry and wild raspberry, with hints of darker fruit and a lick of vanilla spice.
To taste, this shares certain characteristics with a good Beaujolais; there are lots of bright, honest red berry flavours and hints of pretty, floral character. I really enjoyed the delicate textures on this wine; the partial oaking brought about a softness of touch that sits beautifully alongside the smooth red cherry flavours.
- Buy from Flint Vineyard £20.99