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For many of us the start of the new year signals a time to set new goals and make plans for new adventures. Or conversely, to slow down post-holidays and recharge–
be it through a healthier diet or vows to sleep more. Either way the current circumstances have undoubtedly made both new year resolution paths difficult in countless ways.
I won’t dwell on it… instead let’s focus on the things to be grateful for, and for me, that’s seeing our local wine scene flourishing each year.
You might have noticed from previous monthly themes that I’m passionate about wine’s ability to let us travel.. physically, to the most beautiful destinations where grapes grow, but also in time (when we explored Ancient Wines, and even the wines of 1920s Paris). It was tempting for me to bring you a box of delights from the most far-flung wine regions so we could at least imagine we were there through the wine journey. Surely connecting with Kevin Judd in New Zealand last month was one perk of going virtual with our wine tastings.
This month the wine travel is only an hour or so from London. But thinking about our daily lives now and how we’re spending so much time at home, and around home, it’s a welcome surprise when we discover a new park or nature walk that we never knew existed. Perhaps we’d never search right under our noses if we weren’t forced to, and I feel that our own local wines should be explored right now too.
It’s no secret that English sparkling wines have gone from “farmers’ market” to global market, and critics widely agree that at last Champagne has a true rival. The traditional method (Champagne style) wines are of exquisite quality and continue to improve as the vines in England and Wales age and gain concentration, producers’ reserve wines also age and gain complexity, and the winemaking knowledge deepens with each vintage.
Gusbourne was one of the first producers I discovered in my wine journey. I visited the estate back in 2012 to interview owner and founder, Andrew Weeber. He planted the first vines in 2004, and we tasted their first release of Blanc de Blancs (2006) while standing in the vineyard. It tasted magnificent the, and by now Gusbourne is easily considered one of the leading producers in the UK.
What’s equally exciting is the rise in quality of English still wines. Production of rosé, white, and red are all on the rise thanks to better ripening conditions and planting in the right (dry and sunny) parts of England. I was spoiled for choice but decided to go with very small producers that are lesser known and but worth discovering. Both Chartham and Davenport produce sparkling wines too that are worth seeking out, but their still wines are remarkable.
So, although it’s not been an easy start to the year, one thing I feel particularly hopeful and excited about is the prospect of visiting these producers in the Spring and Summer months when we can emerge and fully enjoy wine with each other from grapes growing right under our noses!
On Tuesday 26th January members are invited to join a Virtual Wine Tasting with special guest: Master Sommelier Laura Rhys who is the Gusbourne Brand Ambassador to learn more about English wine.
If you would like to repurchase any of these wines come visit the Bottle Shop.