Jane MacQuitty: My favourite English reds and whites – The Times
The success of England’s sparkling wines may have hogged the headlines these past few years, but it is our summer hedgerow-scented still whites and perfumed reds that have taken the biggest step up in quality of late. Given that most English fizz is a steep £25-plus a pop and still wines are at least £10 to £15 less, this has to be good news for patriotic drinkers.
If you want to take a jolly bank holiday trip to a vineyard, find a map of your nearest at winecellardoor.co.uk. Most of England’s vineyards are concentrated in Sussex, then Kent and then Hampshire, but I think Dorset, with its chalky kimmeridgian marl soil, is the one to watch.
As for the supermarket run, start your journey at Waitrose, where for £8.99 you can pick up its zesty, grapefruit-spiked, own-label 2016 English Dry White from Denbies, which has Germany’s reichensteiner enlivening its müller-thurgau base. Marks & Spencer’s gentle, apple blossom-scented 2014 Willow Brook (£10) from Three Choirs is siegerrebe-dominant. Bacchus, our answer to sauvignon blanc, is hugely successful, with Camel Valley’s 2016 Bacchus from Cornwall (Wine Society, £13.50) a lime and elderflower-scented joy.
Given our climate, it took longer for England’s vignerons to crack red wines, but lots have now, so check out the rondo-based reds from Bolney in West Sussex and others, especially the Dark Harvest star buy. It is pinot noir that sings here, though, and the 2014 Litmus Red Pinot, made by John Worontschak at Denbies (selected M&S stores, £30), is a cold-soaked, French oak barrique-aged gem, with oodles of rich, velvety, mocha, clove and red berry charm.