When is #EnglishWineWeek and What is it all about?
In 2021, English Wine Week will take place from 19th to the 27th June. Wines of Great Britain support the event which is aimed at inspiring everyone to become better acquainted with English wines and support their local vineyards.
The dates coincide with three significant dates in the British calendar: Father’s Day on Sunday, 20th June, Summer Solstice on 21st June and Midsummer Day on 24th June.
Summer Solstice during English Wine Week
On 21st June the path of the sun in the sky is farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere on the day known as the Summer Solstice.
When talking about biodynamic farming and wine, the world-renowned winemaker Nicolas Joly is quoted as saying, “The vine is one on the few fruit trees strictly linked to the season. The vine is dominated by the earth forces. It goes downwards so it has immense strength in its roots and only goes up a little bit. It couldn’t flower in the spring like the cherry or the apple. The more a plant leaves its gravitational forces, the more it can develop its flowers … The vine is waiting for sun to land on earth. This is what happens at the summer solstice. It withholds its flowering process for the time when the sun lands on the earth. The summer solstice is a very important day for a vine… The vines flowering closest to the solstice produce the best wines.”
English Wine Week will be your chance to walk through our nation’s vineyards and see how the flowering is coming along.
Midsummer’s Day during English Wine Week
Midsummer’s Day and the Summer Solstice are not, as is sometimes thought, the same. Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year and when the sun reaches its highest altitude. Midsummer’s Day meanwhile refers to the celebrations – both Pagan and Christian – that take place around the solstice.
Midsummer’s Eve is known to some as St. John’s Eve and is a centuries old festival, referring to the birth of St. John who was born six months before Jesus. Midsummer’s Eve is known to some as St. John’s Eve and is a centuries old festival, referring to the birth of St. John who was born six months before Jesus. The Thyme Machine Cuisine has a recipe for Ypocras, an after dinner drink that was valued for its soothing properties… Containing one bottle of sparkling wine (we’d suggest English in the circumstances) one bottle of off-dry white and elderflower liqueur, you can imagine yourself just how calming it might be!
1 x bottle of Forty Hall Bacchus
1 x bottle of Oxney Estate NV
1 cup honey
¾ cup Gibson’s Organic Elderflower Liqueur
2 cored and chopped apples
Generous handful of seedless grapes
The blog details the instructions and it really does taste as good as it looks.
About English Wine
England and Wales are today considered to be producers of fine wine. International awards and critical acclaim for the world’s leading wine experts has shown that our home-grown wines can hold their own in the most prestigious company.
Our cool climate is well-suited to the grapes associated with top-quality sparkling wines and there’s increasing awareness and expertise in identifying the grapes that work best for still white, rosé and red wines. The most widely planted grape varieties in the UK are: chardonnay (white); pinot noir (red); bacchus (white); pinot meunier (red) and seyval blanc (white).
For more information you can read The Vintage Roots Guide to English Wine here.
Ways to Celebrate English Wine Week
Given the gentle and progressive easing out of lockdown we still don’t know exactly what our organic and biodynamic English wine producers and estates are planning for English Wine Week in 2021. However, here’s a little bit about them and we suggest you keep on the lookout nearer the time.
Albury Vineyard are a small, family-run biodynamic vineyard in Surrey. They have a terrific selection of events that run, whenever possible, throughout the year. You can pick from “Biriyani and Bubbles”, “Sparkling Afternoon Tea” and more traditional vineyard tours and tastings. If you’ve a budding apiarist in the family, they also do bee keeping courses! On the 24th and 25th June they are hosting “Opera in the vineyard”.
Located in Hampshire, Laverstoke Park is a nine-hectare estate planted with the traditional sparkling wine grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Owned by biodynamic enthusiast and one-time racing car driver – Jody Scheckter – Laverstoke Park is perhaps best known for CarFest South!
Oxney are the largest single-estate producer of English organic wine and can be found in the beautiful East Susses Sussex countryside. They offer guided tours all year round and if the idea of a longer stay in High Weald is appealing, then they have some fabulous, converted barns, cosy shepherd’s huts and an historic vineyard house, all available to rent.
Who would think that a trip to the nation’s capital can include a tour of an organic English vineyard! Forty Hall Vineyard is London’s only commercial-scale vineyard, which is tended primarily by volunteers as part of their mental health and well-being ecotherapy projects. As with all of the best tours, it’s concluded with a wine tasting session, led by an English wine expert.
Will Davenport has been making thrilling organic wine since 1991. Davenport Vineyards can be found in East Sussex where there are 24 acres of vineyard, across five parcels of land. The vines are tended by Phil Harris, who loves to get his hands dirty and pull the weeds by hand. Will is winery focused and works with colleague, Ben Connor.
Unable to travel? Here we’ve picked one wine from each of our producers for you to try in the comfort of your own home!
Albury Silent Pool Rosé (11%) is made from grapes planted on the southern slopes of the North Downs close to Guilford in Surrey.
A blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier, this dry rosé has precise, crisp red summer berry fruit with chalky minerality and fine backbone of acidity. Light in body it is a stylish aperitif and a delicately flavoured plate of vegetable tempura.
The biodynamic Laverstoke 2013 Vintage Brut (12%) is a beautifully-poised, medium-bodied sparkling wine that would run many French Champagnes over the white cliffs of Dover.
The nose has creamy, biscuity overtones with Granny Smith apple too. A fine mousse gives the palate lovely energy and sustains the apple and citrus flavours really nicely. Want a food recommendation? Keep it fully English and pick up a bag of fish and chips for a real treat.
The Oxney Estate NV (11%) is a blend of chardonnay, pinot meunier, pinot noir
and seyval blanc. The vineyards are in Rye, East Sussex.
On the nose this has lemon zest, green honey and Rich Tea biscuit. Light to medium bodied, this has
bright acidity and fine effervescence. This is a sparkling wine that lends itself to a kir, perhaps made with the Cotsowld’s-made Gibson’s Elderberry Liqueur . Alternatively, serve with a smoked trout and orange salad.
The Forty Hall Bacchus (11.5%) is a great way to celebrate bacchus… a white grape that is fast becoming a USP for English wine.
The nose has aromas of gooseberry, red apple and some white orchard fruits too. Light to medium bodied on the palate, the acidity underscores the ripe citrus fruit to the finish. This London-based winery is a real inspiration. Serve with an English goat’s cheese like Brightwell Ash and perhaps a Scottish oatcake!
Previously described as “the holy grail of English still white wine” (www.jancisrobinson.com),
Stunning new release of this benchmark wine, from the superlative 2018 vintage. ‘The holy grail of English still white wine‘ JancisRobinson.com
the Horsmonden Dry White (11.5%) is a big favourite with Vintage Roots’ customers. The wine has a fantastic aroma that leads with white orchard fruit, honey and English summer blossom. Dry and
medium-bodied, the palate has terrific breadth of flavour. Impressively complex and with good length. Made not far from Rye, you could partner this delicious English white with the scallops that the town is so famous for.
And if you’re looking for a gift this Father’s Day…
Look no further than the Full English Sparkling Trio pre-mixed case. Including the Davenport Limney Estate 2014, The Albury Estate Classic Cuvée 2017 and Forty Hall Vineyard’s Brut 2015, it’s presented in a lovely wooden box.
There can’t be a better way to show your Dad how much he means in this 2021 English Wine Week.