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Top 10 wines to try for English Wine Week

Don’t know what to drink for English Wine Week? db has put together a list of favourite picks from our The Global Wine Masters Competitions’ judges.

The 2024 edition of the English Wine Week started strong, with WineGB publishing their manifesto for growth, which includes impressive figures and predictions for the fastest growing agricultural sector in the UK: viticulture.

The English wine industry is without a doubt conquering new heights and being increasingly recognised for its quality and diversity, as highlighted by the recent results of our Global Wine Masters competitions.

Organised by the drinks business, each of the 28 annual competitions focuses on a grape variety or particular style. Wines are tasted blind by our expert judges, mostly Masters of Wine, ensuring impartial judgement and good surprises – including English wines.

If you want to celebrate but don’t know what to open, fear not, we happen to have just what you need: recommendations from the best palates in the world, chairing judges Patrick Schmitt MW and Patricia Stefanowicz MW.

Balfour Nannette’s Rosé 2023

Medal: Gold at the Global Rosé Masters 2024
Approx. retail price: £17

Balfour Winery is located at Hush Heath Estate in Kent, ‘The Garden of England’. When the Balfour-Lynn family started making wine, they thought “If we can’t sell it, we’ll drink it”. But their first sparkling rosé was a success – so is this still rosé, based on the ‘classic’ Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties.

What the judges said: “This lovely, pale peach-hued wine exudes an English garden in springtime. Aromatic strawberry and raspberry fruits are supported by lively acidity and a plush, creamy texture. A light-bodied, concentrated and ‘dreamy’ wine, showing hints of herbs and hedgerow flowers, it will be perfect for Wimbledon strawberries and cream, or on its own as an aperitif.”

Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV

Medal: Gold at the Global Sparkling Masters 2024
Approx. retail price: £34

The Hampshire-based winery is considered the oldest commercial vineyard in the country. Classic Cuvée is their signature wine, blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier and aged 35 months on the lees.

What the judges said: A first-rate example of English sparkling wine, with its typical mix of fresh apple fruit and firm acidity, this Classic Cuvée from Hambledon also features notes of pastry and pear, lemon and quince, with a creamy- textured mousse and a very dry, somewhat tart finish.

Hambledon Premiere Cuvée NV

Medal: Master at the Global Sparkling Masters 2024
Approx. retail price: £52

Produced from vines on South East facing chalk slopes, Première Cuvée is a blend of the classic champagne grape varieties, with a majority of Chardonnay, and is aged over five years on the lees.

What the judges said: An aromatic wine with scents of pastry and raspberries, along with notes of rhubarb and custard. In the mouth, there’s a hint of summer red berry fruit and a touch of bread dough, though more dominant are refreshing characters of green apple and citrus zest, with a palate-cleansing finish, featuring a chalky dry sensation, and a firm acid bite.

Henners Foxearle English Sparkling Brut 2016

Medal: Gold at the Global Sparkling Masters 2023
Approx. retail price: £40

Henners is located just 5 miles away from the sea in East Sussex. The maritime influence helps protecting the vineyards from frost and adds a lovely crisp character to their wines.

What the judges said: A delicious example of English sparkling wine using predominantly Chardonnay from the first-rate 2016 harvest. Loaded with orchard fruit flavours, from crisp apple to creamy pear, there’s also a note of baked bread, a touch of beeswax, and a fresh, dry, chalky-tasting finish.

Sandridge Barton Blanc de Noirs 2020

Medal: Master at the Global Sparkling Masters 2023
Approx. retail price: £40

The Blanc de Noirs 2020 is the inaugural release of the Devon-based winery’s premium range. The vintage is the first sourced from their new estate at Sandridge Barton; the team, previously known as Sharpham Wine, completed their move to the site near Stoke Gabriel in 2022.

What the judges said: A super fresh fizz packed with flavours of crisp, fresh orchard fruits, freshly baked bread and puff pastry, with a zesty, bone-dry finish.

Busi Jacobsohn Blanc de Noirs 2018

Medal: Gold at the Global Sparkling Masters 2023
Approx. retail price: £48

Busi Jacobsohn is a family-run single estate established in 2015, growing grapes on the deep limestone-chalk soils in the High Weald of Kent.

What the judges said: This elegant wine shows focused pear and gentle red berry fruit with toasty autolysis. Very dry, pure and concentrated, firm acidity and brittle mousse texture support the vibrant fruit. It has a lovely, linear style that would work nicely with smoked salmon canapés.

Busi Jacobsohn Blanc de Blancs 2018

Medal: Gold at the db Spring Tasting 2024
Approx. retail price: £59

What the judges said: Busi Jacobsohn is a brilliant producer, crafting fine fizz from south-west facing vineyards in East Sussex, like this pure Chardonnay, with its layers of lively, persistent zesty lemon and fresh apple characters, complemented by subtle notes of hazelnut and baked bread from the five years this wine spends on its lees.

Chapel Down Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine NV

Medal: Gold at the Wine Travel Retail Masters 2023
Approx. retail price: £32

Chapel Down needs no introduction. The winery, based at Tenterden in Kent, is regarded as one of the leading producers in the UK, investing in vineyards and sourcing grapes from other exceptional English vineyards.

What the judges said: This lovely Brut Rosé Sparkling is a gem, showing red berry fruit and a gentle yeast overlay. Brut-style with 8g/1 dosage, the palate is light-bodied, and has racy acidity and brittle mousse texture supporting the juicy flavours. A light, elegant style with layers of texture and flavour. A perfect gift, if visiting abroad, or for personal consumption at home.

Candover Brook Rosé Sparkling NV

Medal: Gold at the db Autumn Tasting 2023
Approx. retail price: £32.00

Candover Brook was founded in 2012 by Lord John Sainsbury, in partnership with his two sons, who now run the Hampshire-based vineyard. Planted on gentle south-facing slopes with limestone soils, the traditional Champagne grapes are perfectly suited to making ‘classic’ sparkling wines.

What the judges said: Pale peach in colour with small bubbles, this English sparkler has aromatic red berry fruit with gentle fresh yeast and yellow rose accents. Brut-style, the palate is nicely defined with crisp acidity and lovely balance. Defined, layered and creamy- textured, this refined example is a delightful aperitif, but would work nicely with freshly-caught trout in a butter-and-lemon sauce.

Woodchester Valley Pinot Gris 2022

Medal: Gold at the Global Pinot Gris Masters 2023
Approx. retail price: £20

Set in the picturesque Cotswolds, this family-owned boutique winery is proof that great English wine isn’t confined to the south-east of the country. Although they have grown Pinot Gris grapes for over ten years, this award- winning wine was their very first 100% Pinot Gris still cuvée.

What the judges said: One of the most surprising finds in last year ’s Global Pinot Gris Masters was this wine from Woodchester Valley. It bettered a host of fine Pinot Grigios from Italy, for its combination of soft sweet fruit flavours and firm, fresh acid structure. In terms of flavour there’s plenty of creamy pear and blood orange, followed by a bitter-lemon character on the finish, giving a lingering and refreshing edge to this off-dry wine.

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