English Rosé

Not so very long ago, the idea of English wine was associated with homemade brews of wild flowers, hedgerow fruit and strange concoctions bubbling away in kitchens, garden sheds and even under the stairs. Confusion reigned between British wine, made from imported grape concentrate and English wine made from unknown hybrid grapes created to deal with the cool climate and damp summers.

Twenty years of hot dry summers, training at colleges such as Plumpton College, internationally trained winemakers and, significantly outside investment from Champagne

Today there are a steadily growing number of hectares under vine from the south coast to north Yorksire. In this episode we looked at rosés from south east England.

Liz

I had two rosés - one sparkling and one still from Gusbourne in south east England. Both showed characteristics which are very typical of English wine - good acidity and pronounced fruity character thanks to the moderate, maritime climate and long summers - although rogue cool wet summers will have less fruit and more leaness.

Cherry Garden Vineyard Rosé 2019 is made with Pinot Noir (clones 828, 777, 115) grown on the clay and sandy south facing slopes near Appledore in Kent - a warm site with a moderate maritime climate. Harvested in October, short skin contact, tank fermentation and a small amount aged in French oak. This rosé showed the beautiful character I love in English rosé - vibrant and full of summer garden joy. Floral notes - with a touch of scented elderflower, bursting with life with bucket-loads of of raspberry, cherry and strawberry fruit, bone dry and crisp hedgerow fruit acidity. The wine is definitely fruit driven and as such I felt it would be great with fruit and I chose to match it with an English Summer Pudding with its complex range of fruit flavours and tart acidity.

English Summer Pudding

The Rose Brut 2016 is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay and a touch of Pinot Meunier grown on clay chalk and flint soils on south facing slopes in Kent and neighbouring West Sussex. Some barrel aged red wine was added before the second fermentation for the colour and ageing for over a year on the lees gives added weight and concentration. This wine had similar full ripe fruit aromas but on the palate had slightly more green leaf and redcurrant acidity, rhubarb fruit with a hint of creamy custard and a touch of flint on the finish.

I experimented with a new idea being promoted by the Champagne producers of trying radishes with Champagne. I chose mildly peppery radishes with fresh baguette and salty butter. The fresh tangy character of the radish and creamy butter went quite well - but in the end I decided that the Summer Pudding was the best match with both wines.

Sumi

My first English rosé was an Ambriel sparkling rosé wine. Barrister turned winemaker and viticulturalist, Wendy Outhwaite uses 100% Pinot Noir that she vinified with skin contact and vinified from the free run. The Pinot Noir is hand-picked from a single estate and a single clone 777 that has worked beautifully on the chalky soils of the South Down and the wine is a succulent showing creamy mouth-filling texture. What truly stands out here is the high intensity of aromatics of wild strawberries, raspberries and sun kissed cherries. The wine has piercing acidity but also intense purity of fruits that shows through very elegantly integrating with its powerful expressive style without being over bearing. With lees ageing of upto 5 years, this wine not only combines the biscuit and pie based savouriness but also captures the complexity of an ageing Pinot Noir with its mushroom and forest floor nuances.

I prepared a lightly spiced vegan stew soup with Sweet Potato and Stew using fresh ginger, curry powder and cumin powder. Ambriel rosé sparkling creamy and textured notes paired beautifully with the light spices, pungent ginger notes. The sweetness and richness of sweet potato combined with leafiness of kale balanced extremely well with the purity of fruit that the wine expresses, its soft and velvety low level of tannins and complex ageing nuances of the rosé sparkling wine. The bubbles are energetic and beautifully wash off the spiced notes leaving behind a lingering vibrant essence in the palate. In summers you can serve it as a soup and in winters with brown or white steamed Basmati rice.

Kale and Sweet Potato Vegan Stew

My second wine was Hawkins Brothers Pinot Noir still rosé wine vinified at the Surrey vineyards Greyfriars. Hawkins Brothers, James and Simon run an English wine shop in Godalming in Surrey and specialise in English wines. They are open 7 days a week and open to meet wine lovers and talk about English wines. A lovely way to explore and learn about English wines by tasting samples that they regularly pull out for the consumers.

The Pinot Noir still rosé is extremely pale and made to display the purity in style and the crisp and sharp acidity that integrates elegantly. This is a light and refreshing wine meant to be versatile to pair with cheese and olives and to be served as an aperitif during warm summer days. Equally it’s subtle expression makes a great wine to introduce wine amateurs to English rosé wines. I paired this wine with Cheese puff pastries and the wine was an instant super hit when my friends came over at 6pm, hungry and thirsty for a drink!