A Taste of English Wines
Our October Meeting of the Wine Appreciation Group was hosted by Stephen and Mary. At first we had to guess from where in the world the first two white wines originated. Generally people liked the wine but were unable to place the origin accurately. It turned out that the wines were from the Denbies' Vineyard in Dorking, Surrey. These were compared with a supposedly dry Riesling from the Mosel Region of Germany.
A blind red wine tasting of two English wines followed from Denbies and Chapel Down from the Wickham Estate in Tenterden (the only Kent wine tasted as few were available).
The evening concluded with another blind tasting and comparison of two sparkling wines - one called Whitedowns from Denbies and a relatively budget Champagne. Generally the English wines were preferred.
Denbies Surrey Gold Non Vintage 11.5%
Denbies Ranmore Hill 2013 12%
Dr Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Mosel 8%
Denbies Redlands 2014 12%
Number Five - Tenterden Chapel Down Wickham Estate Red 2011 12%
Number Six - Antoine Clevecy Champagne 12%
Number Seven - Denbies Whitedowns Sparkling Wine 11.5%
Wine from the United Kingdom is generally classified as either 'English wine' or 'Welsh wine', referring to its actual place of origin. The term 'British wine' is used for fermented grape juice or concentrate that can originate from anywhere in the world.
The Romans introduced wine production to England and even attempted to grow grapes as far north as Lincolnshire. You can't fault them for trying.
There are now more than 430 vineyards in England and Wales, with most concentrated in the south east.
The average vineyard size is 3.3 hectares.
It takes at least four years before you can harvest the grape when you establish a vineyard.
There are now 1,500 hectares of vines planted across the land.
Britain produces more than two million bottles of wine a year.
Sparkling wine accounts for 60% of the UK’s wine production.
Millennia ago, when Britain was part of the European landmass, large swaths of south-east England were joined to what is France’s modern day Champagne.
Due to the changing climate, French vineyard owners are buying up land en masse in south-east England as they are worried it’s getting too hot in France, and the soil in the white cliffs of Dover is similar to the chalky soil of Champagne, while costing far less.
The largest vineyard is Denbies in Dorking, Surrey, with around 300 acres and 300,000 vines under cultivation.
Despite international acclaim, English & Welsh wine sales combined account for less than 1% of total wine sales in the UK.
The Wine Appreciation Group is currently full.
However, many U3As have several groups. If anyone wanted to start another, we would be able to advise from our experience of the last year.