Friday, September 15, 2006

English Wine

Listening to Radio 4 today I heard a debate on the increasing alcohol content of European and New World wines and whether or not it affects the flavour and intensity of the finished product. The consensus is that it does, and not necessarily in a good way. And over the past few weeks there has been a lot of talk about English wines as speculation over the rate of global warming leads to the conclusion that England may soon have a perfect wine-growing climate.

At the Organic Food Awards I sat at the same table as English wine producer Will Davenport, of Davenport Wines, and as it happened we were drinking the Davenport Vineyard 2005 Horsmonden Dry Wine to accompany the goat's cheese and garden leaves starter. The wine was superb. If I'd been blind tasting I certainly wouldn't have guessed that it was an English wine. I'm not an expert on wine in any sense, but I like to drink it and I know what I like. And I liked the Davenport wine enormously. If I'd been pushed to say where it came from, without knowing, I'd have guessed at the Loire, or possibly the Sonoma Valley. But England? Surely not.

The 2005 is selling fast but there is some still available from the Davenport website. Get it while you can.

The week prior to the Awards lunch, I stopped off at a'Beckett's vineyard near Devizes in Wiltshire. The wine was delicious; crisp, dry and aromatic. Paul Langham talked us through his philosophy which in essence is to 'concentrate on the grapes and you will make good wine'. Paul and his wife, Lynn, run the vineyard alongside day jobs and their young family which must make for an interesting life. Plans are afoot to build additional facilities on site, including a bottling plant, which will enable the Langhams to have more control over the winemaking process.

There are several websites with information on English wine and its producers. and English Wine Producers are a good place to start. I'm off to begin research in earnest - there are a dozen or so bottles of good English wine on the rack to be going on with.