After a summer break, I’ve jumped back in to the world of English Wine with a flurry of fresh and youthful 2021 vintage still wines. At the beginning of the year, I must say I was not feeling too optimistic about the 2021 English vintage. Generally, the wines were tasting a little lean and mean. However, I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, as producers who have both made the right wines from the right varieties and exercised a little patience have been rewarded with lively, bright and tasty results.
The blends have particularly stood out here, with producers like Kinsbrook choosing to blend their three still grapes, Bacchus, Pinot Gris and Pinot Précoce, rather than attempting to make single variety still wine. Their Kin 21 (£24.99) is an absolute delight, packed with energy and vibrancy, as well as juicy, pungent tropical fruit and floral aromatics. It caught my attention from the first sip and thus gets awarded the title of Wine of the Month. Dalwood’s latest vintage of their successful White Blend is once again a triumph, and also delivers great value for money at £14.99, as does New Hall’s aromatic Signature 2021 at £13.99.
Outside of this trio of tasty blends, I’ve continued the 2021 vintage love with a selection of unique and considered wines. Denbies Orange Solaris (£25.00) was a nice surprise, and it shares some similarities with Litmus Wines’ own Orange Bacchus. Meanwhile, Hidden Spring Bacchus Fumé 2021 (£18.99) shows that Bacchus is anything but a one-trick pony, standing up nicely to a gentle oaking. Finally, I end on a duo of contrasting Somerset rosés, one made from Regent and the other from Pinot Noir Précoce. Both offer appealing ripe red fruit flavours, nicely contrasting with the fresher, crisper notes of the 2021 vintage.
Kinsbrook Kin 2021
• WINE OF THE MONTH •
Grapes: Bacchus, Pinot Gris & Pinot Noir Précoce
Flexibility is something that is critical in an emerging but often uncertain and changing climate. And this punchy blend from Kinsbrook really demonstrates that quality superbly, resulting in a fantastic wine.
The nose on the Kin immediately draws you in with its fusion of pungent tropical fruit, zesty lime, peach, floral elderflower and rose fragrance.
The palate delivers on the fragrant promise, beginning with an intense, racy rush of lime and passion fruit. It’s all about the zing and tang up front, with racy yet controlled acidity, but the mid-taste softens to fleshy white peach, pear and papaya. The finish of nettle, white pepper and lime zest is fresh and fragrant, leaving you eagerly reaching for another glass.
This is not an understated wine in any way – it’s vibrant, bursting, intense and juicy.
Dalwood Still White 2021
Grapes: Madeleine Angevine, Solaris & Seyval Blanc
Another white blend that’s pulling its punches once again in 2021 is the Dalwood White Blend 2021. I’ve enjoyed this wine in its leaner (2019) and riper (2018 and 2020) guises, and 2021 unsurprisingly falls in the former camp. Its glistening blend of Madeleine Angevine, Solaris and Seyval Blanc is once again exceeding expectations.
The nose is classic Dalwood, and those familiar with this wine will recognise its bright array of grapefruit, lime zest, pear drops and sea-breeze freshness.
The palate is led by brisk acidity, packed full of zesty citrus fruits and crunchy green apples. As with previous vintages, as it warms, it reveals slightly softer notes of ripe pear and a hint of melon. It all lingers rather nicely with yuzu and salty notes.
New Hall Signature 2021
Grapes: Siegerebbe, Pinot Gris and Schönburger
I must admit, I have a soft spot for floral, slightly off-dry white wines. Gewürztraminer was one of my earlier white wine loves, and I do enjoy it when an English producer nails a blend of lesser-known aromatic white interpretations.
This New Hall Signature 2021 is a blend of Siegerebbe, Pinot Gris and Schönburger, Siegerebbe being a cross of Gewürztraminer and Madeleine Angevine; Gris is famed for its Alsace aromatics, and Schönburger is a pink-skinned aromatic variety. It’s no surprise that this wine is packed full of floral and fruity charms.
The nose is rich with lychee, jasmine tea, peach and melon. It’s super-fragrant, almost like tropical sweets, but also tamed by citrus zest freshness. And that’s where the palate sits, with flavours of pear drops, lime and grapefruit, and rose and lychee floral notes. But the acidity still commands, and while this is the sweetest of the 2021 New Hall still wine range, it only clocks in at 2.1 g/l of sugar.
Denbies Orange Solaris 2021
I continue to be impressed with the progress Denbies Wine Estate has made over the last few years. Not only is their Blanc de Noirs one of the best out there, and their sweet Ortega an absolute marvel, but this Orange Solaris really impresses as the latest in a series of textural releases.
Denbies crushed the Solaris from 2021 and let it macerate on its skins for four months before pressing and extracting the juice. In that regard, it’s made just like a red wine, only it’s white. Well, bronze, in fact – hence the term ‘Orange’.
Expect notes of tangerine peel, green tropical fruit and a distant herbaceous note – perhaps even dried grass.
The palate is similarly diverse: there’s an immediate bitter orange note, but then there are fleshier tropical fruit notes and perhaps a hint of unripe peach. The finish is grippy and slightly tannic, like black tea with a pithy citrus texture.
It’s likely not a wine for everyone, but I enjoyed every sip.
Hidden Spring Bacchus Fumé 2021
The Bacchus Fumé is the wine I always think of when hearing the name Hidden Spring. This wine is delicately oaked, hence the ‘Fumé’ term, and that adds textures and hints of smoke and spice to the otherwise aromatic Bacchus grape.
It’s a wine that has always made a good impression, and it delivered here once again. The nose is a mixture of grilled lime, tropical fruit, fresh mint and a hint of vanilla and spice.
The palate retains the immediacy and freshness of the standard Bacchus, with racy citrus and nettle herbaceousness. However, the mid-taste felt a little more weighty, perhaps with a hint of ripe pineapple or peach. And the spice is subtle and lingering on the finish.
This is my favourite wine from the current Hidden Spring line-up.
Dunleavy Rosé 2021
Grapes: Regent & Seyval Blanc
It’s always a delight to revisit this Somerset rosé, uniquely made from lesser-known red grape Regent (85%) and a splash of fresh Seyval Blanc (15%).
The colour is seductively salmon in hue, echoing the wine’s vibrant nose of wild strawberry and raspberry, together with fresher notes of grapefruit and cranberry.
The palate brings all the freshness one expects from a cooler vintage in England with the zing of lemon and pink grapefruit. But the full and fruity mix tastes of wild strawberries, peach and perhaps even watermelon.
The Regent has brought a wonderful warmth and vibrancy to this rosé – I think it’s a grape I would like to explore more.
Wraxall Early Pinot Noir Rosé 2021
Grapes: Pinot Noir Précoce
Wraxall Vineyard has changed hands a number of times since its original planting in 1974, including a period owned by a pair of opera singers.
The latest owners took over in 2021 after falling in love with Wraxall Lodge, hence this is their first vintage at the helm; the winemaking duties were handled by Itasca wines and Ben Smith over in Hampshire.
The early ripening Pinot Noir manifests in a summer red berry nose, with ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry aromas.
To taste, there’s an initial burst of tangy cranberry and raspberry, which softens to the promised ripe cherry warmth. Overall, this is a really accomplished release.
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