With sales of English wine on the up, here's how to make the most of those sparkling pinots and elegant reserves with some tasty international food fare...
English wines are experiencing a surge in sales with 2011 seeing a record year. To be sure of choosing the best of the bunch, we asked Simon Field MW, English Wines Buyer at 300-year-old wine merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd, to give us his top picks and get some advice about the best foodie treats to match them with.
1. 2004 Chapel Down, Pinot Reserve Brut, Kent, £23.95
An impressive sparkling English wine, made in the Méthode Champenoise by Owen Elias and the team at Chapel Down. Biscuity notes are finely integrated with the red fruit from the pinots (Noir and Blanc) and the ensemble is rounded and long. Try this Chapel Down with a smoked trout terrine as a starter as it will stand up to the strong smoky flavour. Or you could go to the other end of the meal and try it with fruit puddings – a pavlova or tarte tatin.
2. Jenkyn Place Brut, Hampshire, £24.95
Jenkyn Place Brut is an English Sparkling wine made by Ridgeview’s multi-award winning team. An appealing aroma with good intensity and an engaging middle palate, showing richness from the chardonnay and perfume from the pinots. I would partner this with a savoury dish that brings in some deep, sticky fruit flavours. Try this with a deep-fried Camembert accompanied by a red currant jus as the wine complements the fruit beautifully.
3. 2001 Nyetimber Première Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, Sussex, £32.95
There is a real emphasis on elegance in this wine with its rich, buttery fruit finely entwined with a fine minerality. Its texture is long and satisfying, worthy of comparison with some of the better Blancs de Blancs from Champagne itself. This is a wine to enjoy with seafood. It makes the perfect match for a fruits de mer; ideal with raw oysters or, if you fancy something heartier, try it with moules marinières.
4. 2008 Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs, Ridgeview Estate, Sussex, £25.95
The Grosvenor marries citric with tropical fruit on the nose. Refreshing and with fine and dignified bubbles, the 2008 is a very impressive wine. This is very firmly an Aperitif wine and marries well with canapés – my personal match would be with smoked salmon. If you want to enjoy a sparkler with a main dish, this would go particularly well with a salmon en croute.
5. 2010 Wickham Vineyards Vintage Selection Dry White, Hampshire, £10.75
Winemaker William Maitland Biddulph has retained stone-fruit purity with this wine. Chalky, floral aromas and whiffs of newly-mown grass characterise this cool, classic Hampshire white, pleasingly reminiscent of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, but with an extra dose of the finest English reserve wine. This pairs well with goat’s cheese salad and with sticky, sweet roasted vegetables.