Buds and Flowers at Titchfield Vineyard
By one of those lovely moments of serendipity that seem to characterise my explorations of the world of English wine, I picked last Saturday to pop into Cork & Cheese, a deli in Park Gate near Southampton that I had passed several times. I had noted the sign mentioning English wine, so went to check it out.
It turned out that the only English wine they sell is from the local Titchfield Vineyard, the shop being owned by the same family as the vineyard. The good fortune came from finding out that the vineyard, not normally open to the public, was having an event the following day, so who could resist?
Titchfield is a vineyard of just over 2 acres, pretty much in the back garden of its owners. The event had attracted some 20-30 people, who seemed to be locals who enjoy food and wine, rather than vineyard enthusiasts. It was really nice to see people learning something new and appreciating some of the background to growing English wine.
As with all English vineyards, I’m guessing, Titchfield grow a number of different varieties, not only matching their own soil and microclimate conditions, together with the style of wine they choose to make, but also incorporate early and later varieties to give some insurance against the weather. It was a great time to really appreciate that with some varieties already having flowered and the later varieties still in bud.
Grapes grown here include Pinot Noir, Dunkelfelder, Rondo, Regent, Reichensteiner, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier. Some sparkling is made, but this only represents around 15% of sales, so they sell some of these classic grapes. In recent years, they have been replacing other varieties with Pinot Noir as they have had more success and demand with their reds; the typical English red varieties being used to add colour and other properties to that of the pure Pinot Noir.
We were invited by the very hospitable host, Colin Barker and various family and other workers and helpers to try the wines with delicious cheeses from the deli. On first tasting the Bacchus seemed to be the most interesting, but all were well-made and pleasant.
So what of this deli I mentioned? Cork and Cheese is now run by the larger than life character of Philip, the new manager. He’s clearly passionate about local produce and there’s a very nice selection of charcuterie and cheese, together with preserves and so on. It’s definitely one to add to your list if you’re a local or happen to be in the area. It was just a little disappointing that the only English wine is from Titchfield. This is particularly strange when there are so many Hampshire vineyards – as showcased at the now annual Hampshire Wine Fair, it does seem a shame to be so insular. If Cork & Cheese start selling a better range of English wines, we’ll do a blog post in more detail just on the deli.
Although they have won a couple of UKVA awards in the past, no-one is claiming that Titchfield’s wines are world-beaters, but for well-made easy drinking wine, I really wouldn’t knock it. A few days after my visit, I served a friend a glass of the Carnival Rosé and we then went to a bar and had a glass of pinot grigio blush – Nicky & I both pronounced the Titchfield wine more interesting. Cork & Cheese have an offer of 2 for £10 on the Carnival White, Rosé and Red at the moment; at that price, there is little risk in trying and I think most people will be pleasantly surprised.
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