In my podcast A Glass With I’ve sipped wine and chatted with celebrity guests from Sting to Dawn French. But while the guests change over eight series, the most consistently hot topic is English wine.
With the English wine harvest around the corner, the growing excellence of English fizz is now well documented. I’m a huge fan – a single name to memorize and buy bottles whenever you spot them is ‘Sugrue’, sheer splendour from eponymous wine wizard Dermot Sugrue. But it’s a risky business. 2018 was a year that offered near-perfect conditions for GB wine, whereas 2020 is more challenging. In my view one of the world’s greatest sparkling wine producers, Peter Hall at Breaky Bottom in Sussex, estimated his losses to frost damage at 80%. The precious treasure that remains will be highly sought after, I will be putting my name down for as much as I can get. English white still wine, however, is currently in good supply and the quality is blowing my mind. Ever tasted Bacchus? This scented zinger of a grape has been the wine I’ve sipped most this summer. I love its elderflower fragance and sharp citrus refreshment. Top producers include Winbirri and Flint both in Norfolk, Hoffmann & Rathbone in Sussex, Camel Valley in Devon, and New Hall in Essex. Check out www.winegb.co.uk to find a vineyard near you. And while this grape exudes bright freshness and light charm as an unoaked wine, I recently tasted a deftly oaked example from Hidden Spring with a smokey twist that was utterly thrilling which I’m recommending this week. And if you really want to pull out the big guns for a blast of maximum flavour, Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Bacchus 2017 is £25 from Harrods.com and it’s nothing short of epic. So while the homegrown harvest ramps up, I’m raising my glass to the brilliance of English Bacchus – just a few sips of this wonder-wine makes it feel like summertime all year long.
OLLY’S PICK OF THE BUNCH
New Hall Bacchus 2018 (10.5%) £11.50 newhallwines.com. Best value British Bacchus. Scented and splendid, light and lovely, I adore it.
Chalk Valley English White 2018 (11.5%) £12 Morrisons. 57% Bacchus in this zesty British blend – think frosty slices of finely sliced apple.
Hoffmann & Rathbone Bacchus 2019 (11.5%) £19 (£114 for 6) hoffmannandrathbonestore.co.uk. I’ve ordered six, England meets Sancerre in this chiselled luxuriant liquid excellence.
Hidden Spring Bacchus Fumé 2019 (11%) £20 hiddenspring.co.uk. Exotic as elderflower, pristine as a peach and with delightful depth, it’s fab with fish pie.
WINE OF THE WEEK
Camel Valley Bacchus 2019 £13.95 (12.5%) The Wine Society. I buy this by the case – fragrant, refreshing, pristine it’s one of my favourite white wines in the world.
For Olly’s previous recommendations and Mail on Sunday EVENT columns, visit here.