Oaked white wines are relatively unusual in the UK, but there are some excellent examples around. It should be noted that far from the Australian wines which gave use of oak a bad name, judicious use of oak can add structure and complexity, not necessarily an obvious oak flavour.
The recent UKVA awards in this category were dominated by Litmus who won 4 medals out of 10, although it should be noted that this consisted of 2 different vintages of the same two wines. Unfortunately Litmus don’t have a cellar door, but their winemakers are based on the same site as Denbies and a selection of Litmus wines is often on sale in the shop there.
So which grapes are winners in the oaking stakes? Chapel Down won gold with their Kit’s Coty Estate Chardonnay, Furleigh produced a Bacchus Fumé and Knightor oaked their Pinot Gris. One of the Litmus wines (Element 20) is a Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Gris blend, the other (White Pinot) is a Pinot Noir. Sharpham Estate’s Barrel Fermented is 100% Madeleine Angevine, while both Westway Wines and Plumpton College found success with oaked Ortega. So, no obvious pattern.
Other popular oaked wines are Wickham Fumé (Bacchus, Reichensteiner) and Stanlake Park‘s King’s Fumé (a blend of Ortega, Regner, Scheurebe and Bacchus).
I asked Paul Harley, Wine Business Course Leader and Wine Sales Manager at Plumpton, whether he thought oaked wines were an increasing trend in UK wines. He said not necessarily, but that “very careful handling with the right varieties seems to be a positive”.
Respected producers of oaked white wines with a cellar door open to the public are as shown below; we’ll add in any other good ones we come across.