English wineries are more than just a countryside phenomenon that many of us have been hearing about. London Cru, Blackbook winery, Renegade and now Vagabond are the latest to join the series of start up urban winery ventures, popping up in and around London showing how attractive this industry is turning out to be for creative entrepreneurs. Liz and Sumi take on exploring the many facets of English wineries by bringing out the charms of some of the off the beaten track rosé wines of England. In this episode we explore urban winery, BlackBook winery and the countryside winery, Off the line vineyard, both proudly working towards broadening the styles of emerging English rosé wines. This is part 2 of our English rosé wine series on I LOVE ROCK ‘N’ ROSÉ.

Blackbook winery set up under the Victorian railway arch in Battersea is the brainchild of Sergio and Lynsey Verillo. Sergio is Italian-Hungarian by origin who has grown up in the US, his family following European traditions of making wine at home so winemaking is part of his childhood memories, one that he has grown up watching and experiencing. He moved to London in 2009 after meeting Lynsey in New York and worked in Gordon Ramsey’s Maze as sommelier before jumping into Plumpton College to hone his winemaking and viticulture skills. During the next years he travelled and worked across wineries in England, California, New Zealand, South Africa and Burgundy and Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varietals became his pet grapes to work with. Together both started Blackbook winery with the first vintage in 2017. Sergio is the winemaker and Lynsey is in charge of Business Development and manages the winery work along with her day job in a Bank and 2 young children. They decided to open in London as this is their home now, the city they love.

Off the Line English wine based in East Sussex, is a partnership between Ann-Marie Tynan and Kristina Studzinski who have focused on red grapes and only produce rosé wines. Kristina, an ex barrister whose passion for viticulture and winemaking got her qualifying with an oenology degree from Plumpton College, is now incharge of the winemaking. Ann-Marie who has worked in wine sales, contributes to all around winemaking as well as covers operations and sales. The pair focus on hybrid and disease resistant grape varieties and after intense experimentation and hard work have incorporated Rondo, Regent grapes that are resistant to mildew in order to cope and adapt with changing climatic conditions for viticulture.


Blackbook Winery

I tasted the 2018 Rosé “I’d rather be a rebel” which is a ruby coloured rosé wine made out of 100% Pinot Noir procured from Crouch valley in Essex. After a brief period of cold soak, grapes are whole bunch pressed and the wine undergoes indigenous fermentation and fermented in 5-10 year old burgundy barrels to add the extra layer of spiced edge complexity. 25% is then aged in steel tanks for another 6 months on the lees. The palate has attractive strawberry and ripe red cherry aromatics, hint of orange peel and lemon zest. Notes of white pepper and toast and smoke from the use of old oak add the extra layer of elegance. This is a rounded and mouthfilling savoury spiced rosé wines that shows maturity on the palate and also at the same time, piercing acidity that integrates elegantly with the ripe intensity of red fruits. For an evolving wine, this shows immense gastronomic appeal as the complex notes start already show it emerging gracefully.I recommend pairing this wine with leafy and herbal based foods such as Cream based Pasta with sautéd cavolo nero. The savouriness balances beautifully with the fruit concentration and the high sharp acidity of the wine. The evolving creamy texture holds up the pasta cream richness amazingly well. A dish that I had made was also an instant hit with the wine. I made a Vegan sausage casserole cooked in puy lentils, kale and topped with fresh parsley leaf matched elegantly with the warmth emanating from the spicy edged evolving note of the wine on a warm autumnal evening at our household.

Off the line English wine

The second and third wines `i tasted were of Off the Line Vineyard, based out of East Sussex. Quite progressive in their thinking they have three rosé wines out of which we tasted two.

One is the Dog Rosé which is Hip Rosé 2018 made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes whole bunch pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks with lees ageing. The wine is very light, pale pink with an amber tinge with only 10.5% abv. It is the English answer to Provencal wines, with underlying aromatic stone fruit, cranberry fruit driven core and sharp acidity. An easy to please wine but equally showing texture from lees ageing, this wine can pair with starters and also with lighter main courses such as ratatouille, Indian style Paneer tikka dishes with subtle spices as well chicken kababs.

Their second wine that I tasted was Dog Rosé 2019. This is medium pink wine made of a blend of 27% Pinot Noir, 42% Regent and 31% Rondo- the last two hybrid grapes being deeper coloured and responsible for the more intense pink, bordering on pale ruby colour for this Rosé. On the nose the wine is very perfumed with floral peonies and rose aromatics. On the palate equally so with lemon, sour red cherries and candied redcurrants fruits. It is medium bodied with moderate alcohol 11.5%. Vibrant fleshy style with juicy, refreshing acidity that integrates with the ripe fruits. This wine will also pair well with the Vegan sausage casserole I had made above. Also matches with grilled salmon with dill and lemon sauce. The soft texture of the fish and lemon sauce promises to be an elegant match with the bright fruity and mouthfilling notes of the wine.

These are three charming styles of vibrant and textured English rosé wines that also have colourful and artistic, cool and hip labels, one that promises to excite the palate. With juicy fruit core, polished, soft tannins and creamy layers these make great food and wine pairing combinations for the discerning gastronomic palate.