May 2021: An English Country Garden

A client asked me to create an English food and wine tasting for her birthday. I was a little skeptical; I worried a line up of ‘plain Jane’ wine from England would be dull, insipid and tricky to pair food with. I was wrong – the English wines were beautiful! Each one well made with a delicate but firm character and sophistication to rival wines of Europe.

Oxney Organic Sparkling Rose NV, made in the Champagne style, started the tasting. The wine was so good you could be forgiven for thinking it came from a top Champagne house! It was remarkable with its structure and character.

Concerned the white wine would be a too acidic and the fruit washed out, I was again pleasantly surprised! Simpsons Gravel Castle Chardonnay was excellent; clean with perfectly balanced fruit and acidity. Very like a French Chablis with minerality, a citrus palate and hints of lees complexity. I paired it with smoked trout.

The barely there tannins and subtle spice on the finish made the Chartham Vineyard Pinot Noir the perfect partner to cold cuts of beef and duck. Light and delicate, I served it chilled.

My favourite was Biddenden Schonburger Dessert Wine. I honestly was not sure what to expect: would it be thin and insipid or sticky and sickly? As soon as I nosed it, I was enchanted! An English Country Garden in a glass! Delicate, floral blossom on the nose, sweet and fragrant not sticky or cloying. I paired this with Bakewell Tart – delicious!