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My Favourite English Wines - and where to buy them!

Thanks to Katie Howard (aka @theyankeetraveller) for letting us share her beautifully written blog. There are some fantastic English wines and vineyards mentioned here, and we were thrilled to be featured. Follow The Yankee Traveller blog to check out more of her writing!

Last summer I blogged about My Experience With Great British Wine Tours (go check it out if you haven’t already!). It was shared by a wine company, and I started speaking to them through Instagram.

At that point, Elizabeth Rose Wines was in its early stages, and hadn’t launched. However, in the autumn once they officially launched, and were up and running, I was quick to get myself a case! This company is great in so many ways, first of all, the founders behind it are so incredibly nice and helpful. Second, they often put dog treats for the puppies in each case for me from Beautiful Joe’s Dog Treats. Finally, speaking to the women behind Elizabeth Rose Wines, and following them on social media, has also opened up my eyes to all the great English wine and vineyards that are out there! They are great at sharing updates, vineyards that they stock on their website, and also ones that they try and don’t stock yet (follow them on Instagram HERE)

I will be highlighting 4 vineyards, and 7 wines in this post, with some additional favourites at the end. All links to buy will be included at the end of each wine review!

Welcombe Hills Vineyard

I discovered Welcombe Hills Vineyard through this post, and was instantly hooked. Shakespeare wine? Yes please! As someone who spent many many years studying and acting in Shakespeare works, I pretty much clicked “buy” without even thinking about it! I am so glad I did!

Quick notes about the vineyard it was land once owned by Shakespeare’s family. It is run by Jonathan and Nichola Kelsey, who have 2.5 acres of vines, and 9 different varieties of grapes (Pinot Noir, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Pinot Précoce, Auxerrois, Dornfelder, Kerner, Sauvignon Blanc and Seyval Blanc). They run regular tours, that last for about an hour and a half, where you learn all about the 9 varieties and get to try 4 of them! For more information and to book, click HERE

I ordered on a Thursday, and due to some postal disruptions, there was a delay, but they still arrived on Tuesday! The best thing was that Welcombe Hills messaged me directly on Instagram to apologise and let me know it would be slightly delayed, AND included a handwritten note from the owners, Jonathan and Nichola, saying thank you for the order and hope I enjoy the wine, which I thought was just the nicest thing!

The Wine

So, let's talk wine! I got 3 bottles. The Tempest Bacchus, Ophelia Sparkling Wine and Twelfth Night Sauvignon Blanc/Bacchus blend. I’m not the biggest rosé fan, so I kind of shied away from A Rose by Any Other Name. However, if rosé is your drink of choice, it looks like a darker rosé, and nice and fruity! I can imagine it would be perfect in the garden on a sunny day or bringing along with a picnic!

Ophelia - 2018 English Sparkling Wine

The love interest in Hamlet. Ophelia to me represents the opposite of what Hamlet is and stands for in the play. She is young, beautiful, and embodies fragility and femininity.

This wine is amazingly named because it is all of the qualities that Ophelia portrays in the play. It’s a complex wine, there are layers to its taste. It is light, crisp, refreshing and bubbly, but very gentle and easy drinking! This is the type of wine that would please everyone (Hamlet reference!).

Buy Ophelia Sparkling Wine HERE

The Tempest - 2019 English Bacchus

The play is intense and exciting, as Shakespeare throws you right into the action from scene 1. From Prospero conjuring up a tempest (heavy storm), followed by his quest to return to Italy at whatever cost and claim his title.

This wine however, is not a heavy storm, but rather the bright calm before the storm. It is ripe, clean and floral, and when served chilled would pair perfectly with a barbecue in the summer, or a maybe a light Italian dish with fresh greens!

Buy The Tempest Bacchus HERE:

Twelfth Night - 2019 Sauvignon Blanc and Bacchus Blend

At school, Twelfth Night used to be my least favourite Shakespeare play, but over the years, it has really grown on me! Viola thinks her brother dead in a shipwreck, dresses as a man named Cesario, to be able to find work. She gets a job, in her male disguise, as a page to Duke Orsino. Shakespeare always needs a love triangle though! Viola (Cesario) falls in love with Orsino, Orsino is in love with Viola’s friend Olivia, and Olivia falls in love with Cesario (Viola in disguise).

I love the naming of this wine, because it’s a blend. Which really captures Viola’s role in the play! It’s 80% a strong crisp Bacchus, like Cesario, but there’s also 20% of a light and fruity Sauvignon Blanc hiding underneath like Viola. The wine as a whole is on the dry side, but it’s crisp, fruity and has hints of gooseberry which is one of my favourite tasting notes in a white wine!

Buy Twelfth Night, Sauvignon Blanc/Bacchus Blend HERE

Hush Heath Vineyard

If you read my post last summer, you will know that I visited this vineyard. Read about it HERE.

The land at Hush Heath was bought by Richard and Leslie Balfour-Lynn in 2001, and the first vines planted a year later in 2002. From that point, the vineyard flourished, and was one of a small group of British vineyards to skyrocket the English Wine movement. They hold self guided or private tours and woodland walks of the 400 acre estate, with tastings of up to 6 wines! I will also like to mention the charcuterie platters are very very good as well, and always the perfect pairings to the wines that they give you to try! They also do a range of beers and ciders as well that you can try and buy! For tour information and to book click HERE.

Balfour Skye’s Blend

This wine is gorgeous, and one that I hadn’t tried at the tasting mentioned in my other post! It is a mix of Bacchus, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc. Once again, it has my favourite tasting note, gooseberries. The descriptions say it’s on the nose, but I can definitely taste it too!

This wine is perfect for drinking chilled on its own, or pairing with light dishes. I have had it with scallops in a garlic butter and it’s a perfect match. I imagine other fish dishes and even chicken dishes would pair really nicely with it.

Winbirri Vineyard

I happened upon this vineyard through speaking with Elizabeth Rose Wines. They suggested both the Bacchus and the Pinot Noir which I have tried. The Pinot Noir was a very recent discovery, but the Bacchus has been re-bought a few times!

The vineyard is based in Norfolk, and established in 2007 by Stephen Dyer, it is now run by his son Lee. The land is managed by the Dyer family, and a handful of additional employees, so it really is a family company! Between May and September, you can book a “Vineyard Tour and Tasting Experience Day” run by Lee Dyer himself, who takes you around the vineyard to see the 4 grape varieties they have (Bacchus, Pinot Noir, Solaris, Rondo and Seyval Blanc). For more information and to book click HERE.

Winbirri Bacchus

I knew that I liked Bacchus, but this really solidified the fact! It’s not as dry as other Bacchus’ I’ve had. It’s still crisp, and refreshing, but it’s also full of great citrus flavors. Food pairings would be similar to the Skye’s blend, it would go great with fish in garlic butter, or roast chicken! It’s also lovely on it’s own, and I love drinking this chilled on a hot day, because it is just so refreshing!

Winbirri Pinot Noir

This is why the Winbirri Pinot Noir was perfect for both us. It’s so smooth, fruity, and easy to drink. It’s not light wine, and it’s not full bodied wine. It is completely in the middle of the medium bodied wine spectrum, and a wine that would bridge the gap between people’s taste! So it’s a great gift to get someone, if you don’t know what type of red they like!

Elizabeth Rose Wines mentions that they’d serve this with cheese, and that’s a perfect pairing! I also think this goes really well with dishes that include cheese and tomatoes in it, something like lasagne would suit this wine perfectly!

Another note

Winbirri does mixed cases of the two wines above, but also have cases that have a bottle of every wine they produce which is great if you love the wines, and want to try more from the vineyard! Check out their mixed cases HERE:

Great Lodge

This was the very first wine I tried from Elizabeth Rose Wines! I did a little research into the vineyard after my first purchase, and aside from the history, they have something that caught my eye and made me want to visit….wait for it….Alpacas! They have a herd of Alpacas on site, with the cutest names! See the Alpacas profiles here.

The vineyard is set on ancient land that made up The Great Park in Braintree, Essex. Bardfield Hall was the manor on this land, and it once belonged to Elizabeth de Burgh. It is thought that Anne of Cleves made this her residence after her annulment to King Henry VIII. The vineyard has much more history, but you’ll have to go on a tour to learn about it all! It runs very affordable tours, which is a great day out, and you also get to meet the Alpacas! More information and to book HERE:

Anne of Cleves - Bacchus

Named after a former resident, the Anne of Cleves is a great Bacchus! It’s not as crisp as other Bacchus’ but has got some great pear and apple tasting notes! It’s subtle and soft, and it would be a great summer garden party wine. When you drink this, it makes you think of summer and sunny days! Would go great with smoked meat or barbecued foods!

Other Favourites!

These are some other wines that I really enjoyed!

Hush Heath Vineyard

Biddenden Vineyard

One of the early few vineyards starting the English Wine movement, Biddenden Vineyard in Kent, has some gorgeous wines! They have 23 acres of vineyards and eleven different grape varieties. They also just celebrated their 50th anniversary! They offer a whole bunch of different tours from dropping by, to full private guided tours! More info HERE

Biddenden Ortega - The only reason this wine didn’t make my “favourites” above is because it is slightly a hit or miss wine with me. I’ve tried it, sipping it on its own and wasn’t the biggest fan of it, it’s a bit too floral for my taste. However, I tried it with curry and absolutely loved it, it compliments spice so incredibly well, which is why I needed to include this wine! I’ve ordered it quite a few times, but only drink it with spicy marinaded foods or curries! If you like fragrant and floral tasting notes in your wines, this is the wine for you!

Wiston Vineyard

This estate has 6,000 acres in the South Downs, and 16 of those acres are vineyard. It has 3 classic grape varieties planted in 2006, chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. They do primarily sparkling wines. They hire out their barn for private hire, and also offer tours between April and October. More information HERE.

Wiston South Downs Cuvee Brut - So, this wine is expertly made, and you can tell. However, the Cuvee is just not my type of wine. For me, it’s just a bit to acidic, and tastes exactly like a good champagne (Stephen loves champagne, and this was a big hit with him!). If you like champagne, this is the perfect English alternative to really “wow” people! It tastes elegant and expensive, but unfortunately, I am not a champagne lover, so it’s not right for me! I will definitely be trying Wiston again, but will try one of their other wines next time!

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