#WOTW: Time to take a fresh look at English still wine
Until now, my enthusiasm for English and Welsh wine has largely been limited to its sparklers, which make the most of our climate’s electrifying acidity to give good Champagne a run for its money.
The sparkling scene has never been more exciting, with the likes of Nyetimber, Ridgeview and Hambledon blazing a trial, and even Champagne veterans like Pommery getting in on the act (Louis Pommery England, a previous wine of the week is a particular favourite). I have tended to regard the still wines I have sampled as a little underripe, occasionally unbalanced and almost always quite expensive, but that is all beginning to change.
This week’s selection is a case in point: Lyme Bay Winery Chardonnay 2018 (£22.49 from the winery’s website) from South Devon offers a beguilingly bright nose of ripe citrus and peach melba. In the mouth there’s crunchy apple, wild honey and subtle toasty spice. The oak is really subtle and very well integrated. Thanks to the lightening strike of England’s signature acidity, it’s the perfect food wine, so let it cut through a creamy chicken and leek pie, or pan fried hake with a beurre blanc sauce.
The wines comes from that belter of a summer two years ago – and it shows in the ripeness. Unusually, Lyme Bay has released this vintage before the 2017, which is still locked away in the cellars, demonstrating that the English weather still demands a particular level of dexterity.