2018: The year everything went right for English Wine.

Reflections on the Wine GB Tasting 2019

Posted by Josh Beamish

If you haven’t heard the buzz surrounding the 2018 English Wine Vintage yet, then where have you been hiding? Perfect growing conditions resulted in a bumper harvest with amazing yields and quality- so far unheard of in the history of British Viticulture.

The period when we cemented our reputation.

‘Overall, I think we shall look back on 2018/19 as the period when we cemented our reputation both in this country and across the world.’ says Simon Robinson, chairman of WineGB, the industry body for UK wines. With the quality and quantity of 2018 fruit reaching unprecedented highs, we were particularly excited for this year’s WineGB tasting as this was a perfect chance to taste wine produced from this celebrated harvest. Whilst we have to wait a few more years to taste any 2018 Trad Method Fizz, Josh (our man on the ground) couldn’t wait to sample the still wines on show.

Having caught the train up from the depths of Devon, Josh’s mission was simple - sample the range of wines and catch up with as many producers as possible. He left the Royal Horticultural Halls with an overwhelming sense of pride and enthusiasm for the English Wine Industry, which continues to go from strength to strength. Read on for the 2018 Stats he managed to glean from the industry briefing and his most memorable wines.


THE STATS

13.2 MILLION bottles were produced in 2018.

(This beats the GB record by 6.9m and is more than double the previous year’s production of 5.9m.)

31% of the wine types produced were Still and Sparkling Wine production accounted for 69%

(We were happy to hear that Still Wine production is on the up!)

There are now 794 individual vineyards across Great Britain.

(The South East accounts for 341, the South West accounts for 185, East Anglia has 92, Wales has 31 and the Rest of the UK has 145.)

3 million vines were planted in 2019.

(The planting rate has tripled in the space of 3 years with 1m planted in 2017, 1.6m in 2018 and 3m in 2019.)


STAND OUT WINES FROM THE 2018 HARVEST

Derringstone Pinot Meunier 2018 - Simpsons Wine Estate (Kent)

Totally unique. Totally intriguing. Encouraged by the phenolic ripeness of their 2018 Pinot Meunier fruit, Charles and Ruth Simpson decided to produce Great Britain’s first still, white wine made from 100% Pinot Meunier. Simpsons Wine Estate is a relative newcomer to the industry and we look forward to seeing what the future holds them!

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Orpheus Bacchus 2018 - Woodchester Valley (The Cotswolds)

This distinctively clean and pronounced expression of this variety caused quite a stir amongst the press this year. Produced from 100% Bacchus, grapes are selected from individual vineyard parcels nestled in the Stroud valleys.

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Tamesis Bacchus 2018 - BlackBook Winery (Battersea london)

This is the first wine to be grown and vinified in London since the Roman times. The wine is 100% Bacchus but with a punch. It has weight and depth, married with a subtle savouriness and the classic floral aromas that give the grape its plaudits. Nestled under a railway arch in South West London, this small urban winery has produced a range of celebrated wines.

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Entice DESSERT WINE 2018 - Hattingley Valley (Hampshire)

Well done to our talented friend, Zoë Driver, for crafting this decadent delight. Bacchus grapes are frozen to -10c, pressed and then fermented at cool temperatures (basically a mechanised ice wine). The result is an enticing concentration of stone fruit flavour balanced by a trademark Bacchus zing! Zoe suggested blue cheese as a pairing and we may have dribbled at the concept.

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English Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 - OXNEY ORGANIC ESTATE (EAST SUSSEX)

A summer delight from the UK’s largest single estate Organic vineyard. Oozing classic red fruit on both the nose and palate, this dry rose is a direct reflection of the success of the 2018 harvest.

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Charmat Rosé 2018 - Flint Vineyard (NORFOLK)

England’s answer to Prosecco. Dressed in a sleekly branded bottle, this innovative blend of Solaris, Reichenstiener, Cabernet Cortis and Rondo is a delicious, fruit forward alternative to traditional method fizz. A small portion of the wine is then aged in oak barrels and lees stirred every week to encourage a kind of texture and complexity not normally found in Prosecco style wines.

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