Onto February in my top wine memories of 2017, and a British belter for you all from Hampshire. Get stuck into UK bubbles everyone!!
FEBRUARY: Exton Park Brut NV, Hampshire
“February brought a Hampshire Vines tasting at 67 Pall Mall’s downstairs bar, you know, the one they allow the riffraff into.
I’m so pleased to see how well these wineries and vineyards work together, it’s a real lesson for other counties in the UK, and a reason that wine from Hampshire is here to stay. Personal favourites include Exton Park, Cottonworth, and Danebury, but they’ve all got some game!”
FULL ARTICLE HERE
When I was filming the video for English Wine Week with my mate Amelia (her off the Wine Show), she decided to surprise me with a bottle of something that, if I’m honest, I would never have picked off the shelf. It’s a thing called GinKing, and I’ve got to admit, I got a bit of a shock especially with…well…I’ll let the video speak for itself!
This years Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championship has recently announced its medal winners for 2017 and it was wonderful to see so many English and Welsh Wine Makers scooping gold medals. It’s just further proof that wine making in England and Wales is on the up and here to stay!
I couldn’t possibly go through the whole of Sauvignon Blanc Day with talking about a trip I recently made out to Greyfriars vineyard in the English county of Surrey. Sauvignon Blanc, thus far, hasn’t exactly been a mainstay of the emerging English Wine scene, with Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier ruling the roost. But owners Mike and Hilary Wagstaff have decided to have a go at something a bit funky.
It’s a bit of a funny time to be British. On the international scene we’re being treated a bit like Uncle Knobhead, you know the one that turns up to all the family gatherings, but everyone’s always a bit tentative about how they’ll act and what they’ll say to upset everyone this time. So we have to look inside the country to come up with something to smile about, and luckily for us wine-o’s, the UK Wine scene has just the cure!
The Commotion Potion is back in the headlines in the UK. Buckfast Tonic Wine has garnered the nickname “commotion potion” due to the fact it has been directly linked to 6,500 antisocial behavious and violence offences in the UK in the past 2 years. That’s a bucket load! It now turns out that the monks in Devon that are responsible for making this mixture of alcohol and caffeine don’t pay any taxes on their income from it as they’re a registered charity. Well that’s got quite a few knickers in a twist!
Wine in the UK is booming. Ok, ok, so albeit from a small base, but in the worrying outlook for the next few years for most of the country as the politicians negociate with a rather pissed off Europe, the wine industry is one place where we can look proudly. It was with this in mind that I gratefully accepted an invitation to go check out a new winery opening up in the far South East of Kent.
What is it with me and horses? There’s a Peter Kay quote that says “you always feel slightly nervous when patting a horse”, well that’s me to a tee. But weirdly my time in the wine world has got me up close and personal with quite a few now, and my visit to Danebury Vineyards in Hampshire last week got me back on the saddle…as it were!
I’m right in the middle of getting my arse round as many UK wineries as I can. I really didn’t know that many to begin with. Most wine-o’s have heard now of guys like Nyetimber, Gusbourne, and Chapel Down, but the list just goes on and on. So when I came across something on the net about Langham Winery in Dorset opening a new tasting room, the ol’ lightbulb in my head popped on and a couple of weeks later I was in the car with the wife, dog, and the tent!
One of the most striking things about this Vineyard Olympics that I went to in the week was that it happened at all. The atmosphere between the vineyards was fantastic. I’m not going to be naive and say that everyone gets on like best buds all the time, that’d be pretty much impossible, but the fact that people gave up their days to show up and get together with great spirit shows a lot about what’s great with UK vineyards right now.