Over the coming months, we thought we would shine our ‘English Wine Spotlight’ on some of Britain’s fantastic and unique wine-producing regions. With its rich topography and shifting climate, there are numerous variables that result in each region producing wonderfully unique wines with a true sense of place. Then, of course, you have the grape variety selected for that specific region (or subregion) and finally the people behind those decisions.
We have decided to start off with a county that everyone has heard of but wouldn’t necessarily always associate with great wine. Famous for its cracking beaches, quaint fishing towns and the Cornish Pasty - Cornwall is rapidly becoming known for its fine wines. With the likes of Rick Stein and Jamie Oliver setting up camp here, Cornwall is a foodie heaven. From fresh Fowey muscles to Newlyn Crab, wild samphire to wild garlic and even its own Cornish Gouda cheese, this county has the wines to match.
Jutting out of the South West tip of England, Cornwall is frequently exposed to all the Atlantic decides to throw at it. Whilst you wouldn’t be wrong to assume that parts of this county are too wet and windy for successful viticulture, a few brave producers have proved that with major TLC and careful vineyard positioning, Cornwall is capable of producing grapes destined for award winning wine. There are now a handful of Cornish producers who are turning heads, here in the UK and even internationally.
Location: Penzance - within 9 miles of Lands End (England's most South Westerly Point).
Terroir: As well as its free draining, south facing slopes, Polgoon is blessed with a mineral rich, granite soil type - so rich that that the land here was once used as a commercial flower farm!
Grape Varieties: Bacchus, Madeleine Angevine, Ortega, Pinot Noir, Rondo and Seyval Blanc.
Wine to watch: Sparkling Pinot Noir - A vibrant and elegant wine showing wild strawberry and nectarine with some toasty notes. Fresh raspberry on the palate with a touch of salinity and a lively mousse.
Point of Interest: Owners John and Kim worked as fish merchants before starting their adventure.
Location: Near the village of St.Ewe - only 2 miles away from the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Terroir: With gentle south-facing slopes and a soil type of deep loam, the vines at Bosue are planted in a wooded valley of oak. The soil fertility here results in particularly vigorous growth which is tackled by careful and regular pruning in the vineyard.
Grape Varieties: Johanniter, Orion, Phoenix, Regent, Rondo and Solaris.
Wine to watch: Bosue Vineyard 2014 Quality Sparkling White Wine - a unique blend of Orion and Johanniter grapes.
Point of Interest: The land surrounding the vineyard has been farmed for several hundred years. The name Bosue, in the Cornish language, means "house of Ewe" - after the local village of St.Ewe.
Location: Located near the village of Trethurgy, the Knightor winery is within 1 mile of the famous Eden Project. Vines are planted on two scenic coastal sites - Portscatho and Seaton.
Terroir: Due to its marginal Atlantic climate and the low fertility of its Devonian-Shillet soil, both vineyards produce low grape yields that increase cost but maximize quality. This has resulted in a collection of wines that are true to their origin and retain an elegance that is part of the inherent character of English wine.
Grape Varieties: Auxerrois, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Dornfelder, Huxelrebe, Kerner, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Regent, Reichensteiner, Rondo, Schönberger, Seyval Blanc, Siegerrebe and Würzer.
Wine to watch: Mena Hweg - A medium sweet beauty (sweet hill in Cornish) - aromas of honeysuckle, grapefruit and peach moving onto a palate that shows a fresh acidity with a sweetened bite of braeburn apple.
Point of Interest: Knightor have recently launched their very own Vermouth - and we love it! Their take on this popular fortified wine, is made using their own base wine which is then infused with a blend of 24 local herbs and spices.
Location: Located near Wadebridge, the trail blazing and multi-award winning Camel Valley Vineyard is gracefully perched on the Camel Trail - a scenic 18 km cycle trail between Padstow and Blisland.
Terroir: Planted on the sun-kissed, loam soil slopes of the Camel Valley Estuary, the vines here are the furthest away from the sea that you can be in Cornwall without being on the barren Bodmin Moor; technically the warmest and driest you can be in Cornwall. It is no wonder the Lindo family have had such success here!
Grape Varieties: Bacchus, Chardonnay, Dornfelder, Pinot Noir, Reichensteiner, Rondo and Seyval Blanc.
Wine to watch: 2014 White Pinot Noir Brut - An elegant expression of this beautiful grape. Showing red summer berries and freshly baked bread leading to a clean, gentle palate, full of youthful red fruits.
Point of Interest: Boasting England's first vineyard specific PDO for their Darnibole Bacchus; this terroir driven wine is produced from just 1.5 acres of the vineyard, is 100% hand picked Bacchus from ancient slate sub soil and requires no intervention in the winery - meaning an intense, refined and mineral Bacchus that is leading the charge for region and for vineyard specific classifications.
Trevibban Mill Vineyard
Location: The wooded valley of St Issey - only 3 miles outside of the seaside town of Padstow, famous for its culinary delights.
Terroir: Nestled between rolling hills, ancient woodland and wildflower meadows, this working Vineyard is a hidden Cornish gem. A south easterly aspect, fine loam/slate soil and shelter from the valley all contribute to an expressive range of wines bursting with vibrant fruit.
Grape Varieties: Bacchus, Chardonnay, Dornfelder, Huxelrebe, Orion, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Précoce, Reichensteiner, Rondo, Seyval Blanc and Solaris.
Wine to watch: Black Ewe Dry White 2015 - With aromas of green apple and lemon zest, this wine has a distinct minerality that comes from the slate soils near Padstow. This fresh, fruity wine offers a true expression of place.
Point of Interest: Having bought the land in 2007, Liz and Engin Mumcuoglu originally intended to plant pistachios and pomegranates, with a view to using the lake at the bottom of the plot for fishing.
Holy Vale Vineyard
Location: Located on the island of St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly, Holy Vale is England’s most Southerly vineyard.
Terroir: With vines dispersed across 4 different parcels of land, a diversity of character between wines is ensured. All plots are mostly sloping and facing south, to aid water drainage and aspect to the sun.
Grape Varieties: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.
Wine to watch: Whilst we have not yet had the chance to sample their wine, we are particularly enthusiastic about their Pinot Gris - rarely found in England and very exciting.
Point of Interest: The vineyard has been described by world-renowned wine expert, Michael Broadbent, as “one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in the world”.
For a more detailed description of these vineyards - please visit our producer profile page at www.emergingvines.co.uk/producers. For information about facilities, opening times and wine sales please visit their individual websites.
Keep an eye out for our next feature on the vineyards of Devon!