This week sees the welcome return of English wine as we visit one of the country’s largest producers in Sussex.
2018 was, in the parlance of Frank Sinatra, a very good year for English wine, and so it is only right we celebrate it.
Hot and dry weather landed a bumper crop for growers across the country as many Old World wine producers struggled against the relatively temperate conditions north of France.
At Bolney, a third-generation family business, clear blue skies gave them a remarkable crop in terms of both quality and quantity.
According to winemaker Alex Rabagliati, the vineyard processed twice as much in 2018 as in any previous vintage – which was some feat – and with the wines now in bottle he says “we can look back in pride on an incredible achievement and a fabulous range of still wines for our customers to enjoy.”
As one of the few English growers which focusses on still wine the estate will release a Pinot Noir, Bacchus and a 2018 Lychgate Bacchus this year.
But it was their Estate Pinot Gris, priced at £19.99, which was a particular favourite for us.
Medium-bodied and smooth, with plenty of fresh pear along with citrus and honeysuckle, this vintage has a fresh finish with some grassy notes.
Half of the hand-picked Pinot Gris grapes were crush-destemmed, and the other half whole-bunch pressed. The juice undergoes cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks for approximately 14 days, using yeast strains selected to maximise the floral and fruity aromas.
Drink with oily fish, goat’s cheese, shelffish or light Asian dishes.