English wine week

Sharpham Vineyard on the River Dart

To mark the beginning of the English summer.

English wine is a bit of a funny one. I can’t help feeling that it’s partly localism and zenophobia gone mad, but amongst all the huff and puff about out champagning the Champenoise, there are some pretty good English wines out there.

May, with the first flush of spring ‘primavera’ vegetables strawberries is the time to raise a glass the English summer (with a silent prayer for good measure).

We’ve been lucky enough to have Sharpham Estate Vineyard just down the river and their Dart Valley Reserve (£10.99) and Estate Selection (£12.99) have been bestsellers in the shops for many years. Pebblebed (£11.99), just the other side of Exeter are equally good. Both use mainly German varieties, bred to ripen in the English summer.

In sunnier West Sussex, Stopham Estate take a slightly different approach and focus on Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc from French Alsace. They’re the best still English wines I’ve tasted. Not cheap at £14.99 but both deliciously crisp, fragrant and aromatic – like an English rose.