Food & Drink Friday, June 3rd Words by: Lauren Rogers

English Wines Being Made in and around Herefordshire

Food & Drink Friday, June 3rd

English Wines Being Made in and around Herefordshire

Herefordshire knows how to make booze - free flowing cider, infused gin, craft beer, reak ale, and growing number of flavoured vodkas (keep it up, Chase).

Fitting then, that we are also home to handful of vineyards making the most of a cold climate to produce increasingly fashionable English wines.

At Tanners Wine Merchants in St Peter's Square, Hereford, they've seen the popularity of British grapes going up. And having been peddling wine in the city for 200 years, Tanners' expert staff knows good wine when they swig it.

"English wines tend to be a bit more expensive so they're seen as special occasion wines," said Cicley, giving us a tour of the English wines on offer at the shop.

"Broadfield Court produce a Herefordshire white which has had great reviews and comes in at £11.95. That's a really popular, more afforrdable one.

"The Gusbourne sparkling wines from Kent are slightly more expensive but they are lovely, and really popular for weddings.

"And then we stock Ancre Hill from Monmouth which is another very popular one."

What does UK wine offer that Old World/New World doesn't? Sarcasm? Brexit jokes? The taste of drizzle?

"We have pinot noirs and chardonnay but UK vineyards tend have their own grape varieties," said Cicley. 

"The style differs too as we tend to produce off-dry wines, and that is a unique selling point."

Here are some of our favourite English and Welsh wines made in and around glorious Herefordshire. 

We soberly, heartily recommend you try them next time.

Sixteen Ridges from Ledbury, Herefordshire

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Simon Day (the man behind Herefordshire's Once Upon a Tree cider) starting selling his Ledbury-made Sixteen Ridges in 2014.

The Signature Cuvée Sparkling is a "vivacious sparkling white wine made with Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc grapes".

The lemon, baked apple, honeysuckle and hazelnut character has an elegant long clean finish. Try with smoked trout; salmon canapés or freshly shucked oysters.

Beeches Vineyard, Upton Bishop near Ross-on-Wye

Beeches Vineyard in Upton Bishop is a small, family run vineyard producing a impressive range of English red, rosé, white and sparkling.

It started in 1991 when Simon Wilkins' mum, Ikka Boyd, planted Madeline Angevine, Triomphe d'Alsace and Seyval Blanc vines in rough ground not suitable for farming.

The family later added Rondo and Regent varieties. The vineyard's "dry white, fresh rosé and light and flavoursome red" can be found in shops and restaurants around the county, and bought via mail order too.

Castle Brook, Coughton, Ross-on-Wye

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Chinn-Chinn to the Chinn family, well known producers of Wye Valley Aspargus, who also bottle this Castle Brook sparkling white.

From a vineyard planted in 2004, the Castle Brook Classic Cuvee is a traditionally styled Brut made with Champagne grapes.

"Deliciously delicate, crisp palate with a hint of lemon blossom... Brioche and toasty yeast notes add complexity to the finish" say the tasting notes, and  wine industry experts appear to agree.

Castle Brook has won various accolades including Best Sparkling Wine and Wine of the Year (South West Vineyard Association, 2014) and Best Presented Wine (United Kingdom Vineyards Association, 2015).

Broadfield Court Vineyard Estate, Bodenham

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Bodenham's Broadfield Court Vineyard is run by the James family.

It began in 1971 when 50 "experimental" vines were planted by Keith James, swiftly followed by 500 Reichensteiner vines in 1972. 

Today, the estate has 17 acres of south-facing slopes covered in vine and grows grape varieties including Huxelrebe, Seyve Villard, Madeleine Angevine, Reichensteiner. In 2007, a pinot noir was introduced.

Frome Valley Vineyard, Bishops Frome

The Frome Valley Vineyard stands on the banks of the river Frome at Paunton, near the Worcestershire border.

The family, who also make cider and cider brandy, extol the virtues of a long growing season and slow ripening. Their still and sparkling wine is "classically English in style with vibrant acidity, a fresh floral nose and clean on the pallet with plenty of fruit". 

Across the border...

Want to grow your own? Contact Rowlestone-based vine suppliers Westhope Hill Vineyard / @sunnybankvines.

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Image credits: 

Tile and banner: Amanda Slater via FlickrCC

Broadfield Court: Facebook

Castle Brook: Facebook

16 Ridges: Facebook

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