English Wines for New Year's Eve
Friends are cooking this evening and have asked me to bring a bottle of fizz and some dessert wine and now it’s time to choose which wines it should be. A quote from Susy Atkins is brought to mind: “The Cellar door (is) the best and most enjoyable way of shopping for wine… do try it – it’s inspiring.” I couldn’t agree more and as I peruse the bottles, it’s the stories behind them that come to mind as much as the flavours.
Should the fizz be something from Bolney? Made by Sam Linton, one of many women making great wine in this country and an excellent place to stop off on the way to my aunt’s house – she’s caught the bug too and is helping me to explore some of the Sussex vineyards. Talking of Sussex, who could resist a bottle of Nutty? Such a delicious fizz, this year’s UKVA winner and what a beautiful vineyard Nutbourne is to visit for a friendly tasting and to pick up a few bottles. There’s a bottle of Greyfriars Rosé Reserve, which reminds me of their lovely summer launch party; this bottle is even more precious as I bumped into Hilary and Sarah from the vineyard recently who told me that there’s none left and we have to wait until the spring for the next vintage. I can also see the last couple of bottles of Annie’s Anniversary from Camel Valley, all the vines tended by Annie Lindo herself and one I’m very fond of. Another one I’m particularly fond of is the Sharpham Sparkling Pink 2009; a garish label but looking at it transports me to lunch in the sun in Devon. There’s some Jenkyn Place Brut 2009, which recalls both a trip there and the mini-festival of English wine at Wickham Vineyard. Choices, choices. Any one of those would be delicious, I know.
However, my final choice is going to be the Wilcote 2010 (100% Orion) from Bridewell Organic Gardens. I was so taken with this charity when I helped with the harvest there. They manage to combine a gentleness with professionalism and I hope to do more with them in the future. If you haven’t heard of them, I urge you to find out more and it you like what you find, there’s a link to donate to them below. I haven’t tried this wine, so it’s a bit of a brave choice for New Year’s Eve, but the grapes have given and received so much as they grew and the wine was made at Davenport so we know it should be well-made. Let’s give it a go.
For the sticky, I’m going to go for a bottle of Astley Late Harvest (100% Sieberrebe), which is a UKVA silver medal winner. Personally I love it and it’s not so sweet that those with less of a passion for this kind of wine will be put off. I’ve got to know Jonty who grows the grapes a little bit this year, and I learn something new from him every time I pop to the vineyard.
So that’s my selection done, I hope your celebrations include good friends, laughter and some fine English wines. Happy New Year!
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