As the country slowly starts to emerge from its lockdown-induced slumber, it’s great to see that many winemakers across the country are beginning to re-open having adapted their businesses to make people feel safe and welcome. I have greatly missed my usual spring and early summer walks through vineyards up and down the country, having only a sole Pinot Noir vine to watch over the last few months. I’ve already much enjoyed getting out and visiting vineyards again in my home county of Surrey, and very much look forward to getting back on the road again to Sussex and Essex in the coming weeks!
This month’s round-up features two equally captivating new sparkling wine releases, including Roebuck’s long-awaited Blanc de Noirs 2015 (£45.00). However, it is the Coolhurst Demi-Sec Rosé 2016 (£42.00), the first pink English demi-sec, that really caught my attention, and is my July Wine of the Month.
The still wine selection this month has been outstanding too – each of these wines were also strong contenders for Wine of the Month. We’ve two best-ever wines for producers that have featured heavily in the past on Great British Wine, namely the Lyme Bay Chardonnay 2018 (£22.00) and Winbirri Bacchus 2019 (£14.50), and both really stood out. And for those keen on trying something a little different, Stanlake Park King’s Fumé 2015 (£19.99) and Flint Bacchus Blush 2019 both offer textural, unique takes on English wine.
Coolhurst Demi-Sec Rosé 2016
• WINE OF THE MONTH •
Grapes: Pinot Noir
With their striking branding and previous impressive releases, I was really excited to hear that rosé experts, Coolhurst, were releasing a rosé demi-sec. This sweeter style of sparkling wine will have between 32-50 grams of sugar per litre, and Coolhurst made theirs from 100% Pinot Noir from the 2016 vintage.
It’s deceivingly pale in colour, but certainly not in character! The nose has some delightful complexities, combining maraschino cherry with notes of orange peel, baked pastry and caramel.
To taste, it’s all about the red berries initially, with ripe red cherry and wild strawberry flavours bringing a generous, smooth weight, while striking freshness perfectly matches the sweeter flavour profile. With hints of spice and winter berry notes in addition to the sublime balance, this is one of the best English demi-secs I’ve tried, and sure to be a hit this summer!
Roebuck Blanc de Noirs 2015
Grapes: Pinot Noir
I was hugely impressed with Roebuck’s Classic Cuvée 2014, which was featured in our first GBW round-up of the year, and so was particularly excited to hear about their Blanc de Noirs. It’s made from 100% Pinot Noir, partially fermented in French oak and has a minimum four years on the lees.
The first signs are promising, with rich golden hues, immediately matched by an inviting nose of baked red apple, scents of cherry pie and toasted nuts, with hints of marzipan and orange peel.
The Roebuck is rich and expansive to taste, with baked apple and berry pudding richness. It’s superbly deep and textural, and already showing signs of complexity and maturity.
Lyme Bay Chardonnay 2018
Visibly more golden than its 2016 predecessor, Lyme Bay have held off on the release of the 2017 as this 2018 was deemed ripe and ready. It’s made with fruit from Martin’s Lane Vineyard, from an amazingly warm vintage, resulting in an impressive 13.5% abv.
The nose is incredibly classy with ripe red apples, peach, hints of tropical fruit and vanilla spice oak, perhaps even a hint of toffee apple.
This is a big Chardonnay. You can rarely say that about something homegrown, but the blend of zesty, tangy fruit and vibrant acidity is paired with luxurious, ripe stone fruit richness.
Tasted blind, you would be hard-pressed to identify this as English as it echoes the richness and texture you would expect from New Zealand or cooler-climate Australian Chardonnay.
Winbirri Bacchus 2019
I keep saying this with each vintage, but is this the best Bacchus yet from Winbirri? Following on from the superb 2018 vintage, which I revisited recently, must have been a challenge, but winemaker Lee Dyer has done it again!
There’s a vivaciousness about this wine that just grabs you as soon as it opens, with an enticing and evocative nose of passion fruit, grapefruit, lychee and papaya.
The palate is packed to the ceiling with vibrant, energetic flavours. It’s a zesty tropical fruit fusion, delightfully textured with great length and lovely flinty mineral notes that will draw more comparisons to Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire more than New Zealand.
Stanlake Park King’s Fumé 2015
Grapes: Chardonnay & Ortega
Sometimes a somewhat left-field wine concept comes out of the blue and really surprises you. This is one of those wines, made from a 50/50 Chardonnay and Ortega blend with five years of maturity, and aged in French oak (20% new) for two years.
As soon as you smell this wine, you know you’re in for a treat. It has intense aromas of peach, orange peel or almost preserved orange, floral hints, dried herbs and grilled pineapple.
Despite almost having the nose of a dessert wine, the palate jumps in and surprises you with a crisp fusion of lime zest and tangy tropical fruit. It’s really dry and crisp, but that gives way to softer notes of ripe peach, marmalade and hints of cream and vanilla. Very food-friendly.
Flint Bacchus Blush 2019
Continuing the theme of unusual English still wines, Flint have just released this unique Bacchus Blush. The Bacchus was fermented in barrels previously used for Pinot Noir which has imparted an appealing blush hue to the wine – it’s surely another first of its kind in England?
This wine is aromatically captivating, with gooseberry and grapefruit peel aromas, hints of spiced cherry and a distinctive minty, oaky complexity.
To taste, it’s similarly diverse, with generous, tangy citrus and tropical fruits met with spiced oak and a slightly viscous, chewy body. Unfortunately, this wine is not available for general release. However, it is one of a selection of exclusive wines made available to members of the Flint Venn Wine Club.