This month’s round-up features another tip-top selection of brilliant new wines. My Wine of the Month comes courtesy of Oxney Organic. Their Oxney Classic Chardonnay 2017 is bursting with crisp orchard fruit flavours and deliciously nutty textures. Their Classic Rosé also impressed, as did Artelium’s nicely aged Blanc de Blancs 2015.
On the still wine side, the 2020 vintage wines are now coming through thick and fast. I’ve finally had a chance to sample Dillions’ attractive looking still wines. Both the Bacchus 2020 and Rosé 2020 (both £18.00) taste as good as they look. On the textural side of things, Greyfriars NOOR 2020, a blend of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, proved to be thought-provoking and a bit of a bargain at £13.50. Meanwhile, Chris Wilson’s second Gutter & Stars release, ‘Hope is a Good Swimmer’ Pinot Noir 2020 (£24.00), grabbed my attention but is unfortunately already sold out.
I close this month’s round-up on another superb release of Dalwood’s Still White Wine. This 2020 blend of Madeleine Angevine, Solaris and Seyval Blanc continues to stand out as one of the shining examples of blended English White Wine.
Oxney Classic Chardonnay 2017
• WINE OF THE MONTH •
There’s always been something rather endearing about Oxney Organic Estate’s wines, particularly their sparkling wines. This is their first Chardonnay-only sparkling wine, and they are eschewing conventions by not calling it a Blanc de Blancs. It’s made from 100% Chardonnay that was whole bunch pressed and fermented in a mixture of oak and stainless steel.
The nose draws you in with its heady mix of red apple, peach skin and citrus zest, with a generous seasoning of spiced oak and almond pastry.
There are invigorating crisp, crunchy apple and green pear flavours upfront with a rush of citrus energy. It’s beautifully pure, with a light seasoning of minerality and then a spiced nutty finish.
This is really up my street; I do love an oaked Blanc de Blancs, and Oxney has delivered a very classy and clean expression that works a treat, particularly with Japanese food.
Artelium Blanc de Blancs 2015
It’s great to see that Artelium are exercising patience with the release of their sparkling wines. I tasted this wine a year ago, and it was showing promise, but still on the nervy side. A year on, and it’s blossoming into something really quite tasty.
This is classic Blanc de Blancs territory – baked apple, hints of pear and peach on the nose as well as an indulgent biscuity pastry note.
The signature briskness of Chardonnay, and winemaker Dermot Sugrue, greet you initially, then a flurry of orchard fruit and tangy citrus lead the way to creamier waves of apple pie.
Oxney Classic Rosé 2019
Grapes: Pinot Noir
The second of two brilliant and expressive new releases from Oxney Estate, this is their first vintage ‘Classic’ Sparkling Rosé, and is made from 100% organically grown Pinot Noir. What makes this young release unique is that it is made with zero dosage.
On pouring, I was very struck by the gorgeous colour of this wine and enamoured with the bright, clean nose of wild strawberries, raspberries and lemon zest.
I’ve not always been sold on zero dosage English Sparkling, as our acidity can be a little bit bracing without sugar, but this is impeccably judged from Oxney. It’s brisk and lean, but the fruit has a brilliant purity and freshness that keeps you coming back.
Dillions Bacchus 2020
This is a wine that tastes as good as it looks. Dillions’ eye-catching labels had caught my eye on social media, so I was delighted to have a chance to try their second vintage, the Bacchus 2020.
This Bacchus has classic varietal aromas of nettle, lime and elderflower, with herbaceous hedgerow and a mineral hint.
It’s brisk and crisp to taste, beginning with waves of zesty citrus fruit and grassy tones, while the mid-taste brings ripe pears and a hint of tangy tropical fruit.
Dillions Rosé 2020
Grapes: Pinot Noir
Another beautiful looking bottle from Dillions, this is their first vintage of Rosé and is made from 100% Pinot Noir.
The pale salmon flesh colour paves the way for a delicate, pretty nose of fresh strawberries, pink grapefruit and peach skin.
Pale in colour, but certainly not pale in character, the Dillions Rosé greets you with cherry, raspberry, pomegranate and grapefruit – it’s very summery but also perfectly crisp.
Again, it softens to riper strawberry and peach flavours, with a light creaminess. The finish is a little firmer, with suggestions of pomegranate and rhubarb, leaving you wanting more.
Greyfriars NOOR 2020
Grapes: Pinot Gris & Chardonnay
This brand new limited release was launched to celebrate Greyfriars’ local history and, in particular, WWII radio operator, Noor Inayat Khan. NOOR 2020 is a blend of Pinot Gris and Chardonnay.
I found it a little closed on opening, but it loosened up with a little more time, releasing aromas of green apple, citrus, white peach, and a flinty minerality.
To taste, again it’s immediately the crunchy green orchard fruit and citrus flavours that stand out. The combination of part Malolactic Fermentation, part oak barrel-ferment brings an evolving structure to the wine. A slightly grippy texture and some light nutty, savoury tones add to an otherwise strait-laced wine.
Gutter & Stars ‘Hope is a Good Swimmer’ Pinot Noir
Grapes: Pinot Noir
This is the second release from Chris Wilson’s wildly stylish Gutter & Stars project. Unique in look and concept, Chris’s urban winery is based within the basement of a Grade II listed windmill in Cambridge.
The ruby-red hues correlate with a vibrant red nose of raspberry, cherry and pepper and a twist of toasted spices.
On release, this is a punchy Pinot, seducing with its youthful and tangy wild raspberry, cranberry and cherry. The fruit is quite crunchy and bursting with freshness, but there’s also a nice bit of grip and suggestion of savoury undergrowth.
Dalwood Still White Wine 2020
Grapes: Madeleine Angevine, Solaris & Seyval Blanc
I’ve written previously on how Mike Huskin’s Dalwood Still White Wine has forced me to sit up and take notice of English White Wine blends and not just focus on the single varietal wines. This 2020 is another stellar vintage of his curious blend of Madeleine Angevine, Solaris and Seyval Blanc.
On the nose there are aromas of lemon and lime zest, pear drops and crunchy orchard fruit, with a seasoning of fresh ginger and white flowers.
This wine really sings on the palate, initially bursting with vibrant citrus and crunchy green fruit, then softening to ripe peach and mango notes. Finally, there’s a lengthy finish of grapefruit and minerality, with that hint of ginger lingering in the background too.
This month, John takes a look at ten wines from five of the top urban wineries in England.
John takes a look at a selection of 2013 (and one 2017) sparkling wines from the Vineyards of the Surrey Hills.
For English Wine Week, John looks at a selection of diverse and innovative wines.
In part two of the April round-up, John tastes through seven diverse sparkling rosé wines.
In the first of a double feature, John rounds up a selection of the best still English rosé wines from the 2022 vintage.
This month, John's focussed on 2021 vintage English wines, with a delectable trio of white blends, as well as four textural still releases.