Those of you who have followed our Instagram feed this week would have seen a series of videos featuring a selection of Welsh wines from White Castle Vineyard and Montgomery Vineyard. As two beacons of quality for Welsh Wine, Robb (White Castle) and Woody (Montgomery) also represent a significantly increased effort from the Welsh Wine scene to engage with social media and reach new palates.
I’ve been lucky enough to try quite an array of their collective efforts; this Welsh Wine Week round-up highlights my favourites from the two vineyards. So, whether it’s a colourful and fruity rosé or a zingy, crisp Seyval from Montgomery in Mid-Wales, a meaty Pinot Noir or surprisingly aromatic Siegerrebe from White Castle in Monmouthshire, I have you covered.
Montgomery Pink 2019
If there was one thing I didn’t expect to be saying this month, it’s that a sweet sparkling pink Rondo from Wales is the drink of the summer, but this was a really delicious surprise.
Possessing demi-sec sweetness (over three times the sugar of the Montgomery Rosé), this wine is designed to be enjoyed chilled in the sun, ideally with a barbecue. The wine’s vibrant hue is matched by visceral, ripe summer red berry aromas as well as a darker berry fruit streak.
What surprised me was how well this came across on the palate. The sweetness is prominent but not cloying, considering there’s so much red fruit to support it. There’s also a burst of brisk acidity and refreshing citrus notes.
This is a joyous, playful, but surprisingly deep drop of summer in a glass!
White Castle Pinot Noir Reserve 2018
Grapes: Pinot Noir Précoce
When I think of White Castle Vineyard, I don’t think white, I think red. That’s because Robb’s red wines are some of the stand-out Welsh wines on the market.
This Pinot Noir is made from early ripening Pinot from the warm 2018 vintage, and it was aged in oak barrels following fermentation in stainless steel tanks.
It’s pleasingly ruby-hued, deep and inviting with a nose of ripe cherry, raspberry and woody spice.
To taste, there’s a pleasing mix of ripe cherry and darker berry notes – perhaps blackberry. It’s soft and tender, with a vanilla edge, a spiced peppery finish and fine tannin. Could there be a better pairing than Welsh Pinot and Welsh Lamb?
Robb also kindly shared the upcoming 2019 vintage which focuses more on the red rather than the black fruit, and packs a lovely bold cherry punch. The tannins and oak are a little bit chewier on this younger vintage but will soften with patience.
Montgomery Seyval Blanc 2018
Grapes: Seyval Blanc
This is Montgomery Vineyard’s second vintage of their signature sparkling wine, made from 100% Seyval Blanc in the traditional method.
The nose is crisp and clean, with green apple, pear and yellow melon notes, as well as a twist of refreshing citrus.
An accomplished sparkling wine made from this oft-derided grape, it has a generosity to the juicy, crunchy apple and pear flavours. There’s perhaps even a hint of peach supported by a linear citrus backbone.
For those wanting something a bit more fruit-forward and easy-drinking, Montgomery has released a demi-sec version of this wine too. This sweeter style of the same base wine tempts with more of a play on peach and sweet pear flavours, and drinks very nicely ultra-chilled in the sun.
White Castle Siegerrebe 2018
Another of Robb’s most memorable wines from past experiences is the Siegerrebe. This pink-skinned grape is a German cross between Madeleine Angevine and Gewürztraminer – the latter brings its characteristic floral aromatics.
As soon as you take a sniff, the floral notes dominate the nose with rose petal, lychee and Turkish Delight aromas. It’s so aromatic that you would be forgiven for expecting a sweet or off-dry style of wine.
However, the taste, while packed full of floral, rose and lychee character, has a really crisp and clean profile. There’s a leaner, green citrus and orange zest note too, providing a refreshing cut-through to the florals.
Overall, this is a very distinctive wine. Highly aromatic white wines are not for everyone, but I would recommend this wine to those who enjoy Gewürztraminer or perhaps even Torrontes.
Montgomery Rosé 2018
Grapes: Seyval Blanc & Pinot Noir Précoce
Montgomery’s Brut Rosé is made from Pinot Noir Précoce and Seyval Blanc. This wine solidifies my initial feeling that with these 2018 vintage wines, Montgomery has served up the best Welsh sparkling wine I’ve tasted to date.
With its pretty and pale pink complexion, the Montgomery Rosé certainly looks the part, and is matched with a nose of cranberry, raspberry and citrus zest.
Much like the sparkling Seyval Blanc, what impressed me most about this was how balanced it is. There’s a generosity to the fruit: red apples, a slight peachy note and then waves of cherry and strawberry.