England has been recognised as one of the best sparkling wine producers in the world for several years now. The changing climate means grapes which would have struggled previously now ripen to perfection in Southern England. Combined with a geology like that of Champagne and English winemakers have been making a splash on the international stage.
Alongside this explosion in English Sparkling wine has been a quieter improvement in the quality of English still wines, with many of the best examples produced in the South West.
For information on individual vintages, please click to read Harvest Reports by Stephen Skelton MW
Sharpham is possibly the best-known winemaker in Devon. Their entry-level wine, Dart Valley Reserve, is a great introduction to English wines. Madelaine Angevine, an underwhelming grape variety in its French homeland in the Loire Valley, seems very happy in South Devon, making crisp, clean, easily quaffable white wine.
Those with a more adventurous palate will enjoy Sharpham's award winning Bacchus ‘Stop Ferment’. Originally from Germany, Bacchus has become the ‘English grape’. Winemaker Duncan Schwab has produced an off-dry, highly aromatic wine reminiscent of an Alsace Gewurztraminer, yet unmistakably English. It is the epitome of the English hedgerow in spring, bursting with Elderflower and simply glorious.
Calancombe Estate is a newer vineyard (situated just outside Modbury) and one to watch. The 23 acres of vines were planted between 2013 and 2016 with their first wines being released in 2019. The vines are still young and many of the wines are a little green, but you can taste the quality and passion that owners Caroline and Lance Whitehead have for wine.
Their Calancombe Estate Bacchus is much drier and less aromatic than the Sharpham equivalent. Yet there is still that familiar elderflower hit, but in a very different, drier, style. It is exciting to see how different Bacchus can be, even from vineyards that are only a few miles apart.
Lyme Bay Wines have upped their game too of late. You may recognise the name from their fruit wines, ubiquitous in west country gift shops. Do not be put off though, their still wines are very good. Their Pinot Noir Rosé 2018 is a Devon Cream tea made wine: fruity on the nose with bags of strawberries and a well-balanced creaminess on the palate.