5 of the Best

English Whites (yes, English)

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Scared to buy English? Don’t be. It’s the bottle to have on your lunch table this spring. 

2011 was a record year for English wines with sales up 50% by value and 25% by volume. We asked Simon Field MW, the English Wines Buyer at Berry Bros. & Rudd to give us his top picks from Berrys’ selection of 18 English wines.

 

2004 Chapel Down, Pinot Reserve Brut, Kent, £23.95

An impressive English sparkler, made in the traditional Méthode Champenoise by Owen Elias and his team at Chapel Down. Biscuity notes from the autolysis are finely integrated with the red fruit from the Pinots (Noir and Blanc) and the ensemble is rounded and long.

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How to drink it: 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.

2008 Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs, Ridgeview Estate, Sussex, £25.95

The Grosvenor marries citric with tropical fruit on the nose, and has gentle flavours, which puts one in mind of entering a Pâtisserie on a spring day. Refreshing and with fine and dignified bubbles, the 2008 is a very impressive effort and a worthy successor to the award-winning 2007.

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How to drink it: 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.

2010 Wickham Vineyards Vintage Selection Dry White, Hampshire, £10.75

Winemaker William Maitland Biddulph has skilfully retained a 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.

How to drink it: I’ve matched this successfully with goat’s cheese salad and with sticky, sweet roasted vegetables. For something completely different, try tasting it alongside some traditional potted shrimp - a great British dish for a great British wine.

Jenkyn Place Brut, Hampshire, £24.95 from bbr.com

Jenkyn Place Brut is an English Sparkling wine made from predominantly chardonnay, with 25% pinot noir and 15% pinot meunier and vinified by Ridgeview’s multi-award winning team. A worthy challenger to Champagne, but still uniquely English and especially marked by a light minerality.

How to drink it: 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 and the wine compliments the fruit beautifully.

2001 Nyetimber Première Cuvée Blanc de Blancs, Sussex, £32.95 from bbr.com

The Chardonnay Cuvée is relatively rare, and although the ageing regime is the same as that for the Classic Cuvée, the style differs, with an emphasis on elegance above all, 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.

How to drink it: This is a wine to enjoy with seafood. It makes the perfect match for a fruits de mer, makes an ideal match to raw oysters or, if you fancy something heartier, try it with moules marinières.

All wines available at bbr.com