Norfolk wine expert's top pics for English Wine Week

Jeremy Dunn, owner and chief wine tutor at Norfolk Wine School

Jeremy Dunn, owner and chief wine tutor at Norfolk Wine School - Credit: Norfolk Wine School

English Wine Week is in full swing and despite the weather being typically mixed it doesn’t seem to have dampened our heightened interest in and enthusiasm for wine made from home-grown grapes.

England has a winemaking history stretching back to Roman times, but more recent investment in grape growing and winemaking has paid dividends as the changing climate has helped us develop from a nation of wine drinkers into a nation of wine makers.

Vineyards continue to be planted at a rapid rate up all over England and I think we are approaching a ‘golden age’ as talented young winemakers experiment and innovate often with spectacular results.

There’s a growing confidence in English wine and you can see it and taste it in the end products.

This, combined with the fact we are all ‘buying local’ and are much more interested in food and drink provenance, a trend accelerated by the pandemic, lays the foundation for a very exciting future.


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But if you’re wondering where to start, here’s my guide to English wine.

It includes the wines I recommend you try for a taste of what England has to offer.

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Sparkling wine

England’s cool climate is perfectly suited to making wines with naturally high levels of acidity which are used to make sparkling wine.

The jewel in the wine making crown are the vineyards scattered across Sussex, Hampshire and Kent using the ‘classic method’ (the same technique they use to make Champagne) to make world-class sparkling wines on chalky ‘terroir’ similar to that of Champagne.

Try: Coates and Seely Brut Reserve NV, £32.95.

This wine is rapidly acquiring a cult following and it’s easy to see why.

Floral and aromatic with notes of hawthorn and acacia on the nose this wine delivers both a quintessential sense of ‘Englishness’ and plenty of freshly baked bread Champagne-like complexity. 

White wine

Bacchus, England’s alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, is a grape that grows particularly well in our cool climate and there are plenty of examples around.

However, many vineyards have been experimenting with Chardonnay.

One of my favourites is from Hampshire’s Hattingley Valley. 

Traditionally known for sparkling wines their Still White 2020, £19.95 (hattingleyvalley.com) is extraordinarily like a fine Chablis with fresh green apple fruit, racy acidity and a tight knit structure that is rounded out by a deft touch of oak from old oak barrels.

Red wine

Pinot Noir is a notoriously fickle grape that grows best in cooler climates.

There are some fine examples emerging from vineyards across England, but if you like your red wines full-bodied and oaky, no red wine has impressed me more than Winbirri’s Signature Red 2018, £13.50, from Norfolk (winbirri.com.

It’s made with Dornfelder, a cool-climate Germanic grape, and has a core of crunchy black berry fruit with a dusting of coffee and spice from 18 months ageing in American Oak barrels.

One for Rioja fans.

Rosé wine

There’s nothing more delightful than a glass of chilled Rosé with English strawberries and cream.

Look no further than your local ALDI store for their deliciously quaffable Bowler & Brolly English Rosé 2020, made from grapes grown in Surrey.

It’s a Pinot Noir blend and is just off-dry.

It’s bright, cheery and refreshing, perfect for when summer returns and is a very acceptable £8.99.

So, raise a glass to a golden age for English Wine. I’m super excited because I think the best is yet to come.

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