English wines for the festive season

It’s Christmas!  I’ve had a thrilling adventure so far exploring English vineyards and trying English wines, and I’m excited to share my recommendations for wines for the festive season.

Christmas Day

Our tradition is to open presents mid-morning with some nibbles and fizz.  This year I recommend a bottle of Greyfriars Cuvée Royale 2016.  I’m a big fan of Greyfriars wines and the Cuvée Royale is a beautifully balanced example, nicely combining apple and blossom aromas with fresh lemon, baked brioche and vanilla.  It has been both fermented and aged in old oak giving a rounded mouthfeel, soft mousse and long finish.  It would continue to age and develop – if you can bear not to open it immediately! 

A traditional Christmas dinner is so enjoyable due to its wide variety of rich, spicy and sweet flavours.  Chardonnay, being a non-aromatic wine, is often a good food match and I think New Hall’s Limited edition Chardonnay 2018 which is unoaked, with aromas of fresh tropical fruits and honeysuckle and a hint of toastiness, might work a treat. 

Alternatively (it being Christmas) why not splash out on Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2019?  This complex, outstanding wine has been wild fermented (i.e. no commercial yeast was added and fermentation took place via natural yeasts present on the grape skins and in the winery).  It is dry with pronounced aromas of apple, honeysuckle, chamomile, peach and mango, plus a little toasty vanilla from time in French oak, giving a long finish. 

Pinot Noir is a great partner to turkey and Simpsons Rabbit Hole Pinot Noir 2021 has sufficient substance to complement the Christmas meal.  With good colour and classic red cherry and strawberry aromas balanced with spicy vanilla, it also has soft tannins, medium acidity and a long finish – delicious!

With pudding or cheese do try Burn Valley’s Solar late harvest – this is, I believe, the only dessert wine being made in East Anglia.  It is made from Solaris late harvest grapes with a little botrytis (the mould responsible for the concentrated grapes that make famous sweet wines like Tokaji and Sauternes).  It is low alcohol with aromas of tropical fruits, honey and caramel.

For the rest of the festive season

How about a classic martini with Albury’s Bianco Vermouth – or even better mix up a cocktail with an English Sparkling wine like Albury’s Blanc de Blanc!  Albury make this vermouth with fruit that has ripened insufficiently to make wine.  This one is made from Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes and has lots of orange, mint, lime and oak aromas from the added botannicals.

I’ll definitely be cracking open a bottle of Flint’s Charmat Rosé 2021 to share with friends.  This delectable bright orange-pink wine has become a firm favourite in our household.  Made the same way as Prosecco, but with more acidity and complexity due to lees stirring and barrel ageing, it is both fresh and fruity.

I’ll also be drinking a toast to our late Queen Elizabeth II with Denbies Cubitt Blanc de Noirs 2015 Platinum Jubilee Limited Edition Magnum.  This terrific fizz has a vigorous mousse, lemon and blossom on the nose with more strawberry, honey, brioche and creamy notes on the palate.

Bacchus makes refreshing, fruity white wines and I’ve tried so many great examples this year, but Winbirri’s Bacchus 2020 always stands out.  Winbirri won Best Single Varietal White Wine in the World in 2015 and have continued to produce consistently fine and award-winning vintages – I’m looking forward to trying the 2021 which has just been released.  The 2020 has pronounced aromas of lime, gooseberry, grass, elderflower, peach, apricot, nectarine, orange blossom and melon.  Winbirri suggest letting it warm a little in your hands to allow the flavours to really open up.

Lastly, a cheap and cheerful option is Denbies Surrey Gold the UK’s best-selling English wine, which is widely available. Made from a blend of grapes it has a good nose with aromas of blossom, hedgerows and honeysuckle.  On the palate there are stone fruits and a little citrus.

Enjoy, stay safe and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *