English wines: sparkling, rosé and white

English wines: five good wines to try

I have visited quite a few wine producers on my home turf this year including Rathfinny Estate in Sussex, where I saw the estate’s first vines being planted back in the spring. We’ll have to wait until 2016 to taste the first sparkling wines from this newcomer, but in the meantime there are plenty of other wines to enjoy. Thankfully it is now also easier to find them in wine shops and restaurants. Here are my current favourites:

Chapel Down Flint Dry 2011

Made by the Chapel Down winery at Tenterden in Kent, this unoaked dry white is a blend of Chardonnay and traditional grapes including Huxelrebe, Schonburger and Bacchus. The 2011 vintage is unusually rich and structured thanks to the particularly warm weather leading up to harvest (remember the glorious Indian summer last year?) which resulted in low yields and perfectly ripe grapes. Its delicious peachy fruit and a hint of orange zest make it a lovely white wine for a summer lunch.

Stockists: Waitrose and Majestic, approx £9.

Jenkyn Place Brut, 2007

One of the more complex English wines thanks to 30 months ageing on the lees, this fine sparkling wine is very Champagne-like. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier - the classic Champagne trio - it comes from south-facing vineyards on Hampshire’s North Downs.

 Stockists: Vinoteca, Caviste, Berry Bros & Rudd and Sparkling English Wine; price approx £26

Gusbourne Estate, Blanc de Blancs 2007

 Kent’s Gusbourne Estate is a relative newcomer to the English wine scene – this is only the second vintage – and the wines are impressive. The Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) makes a delightful aperitif with its delicate lemony fruit and freshness but there’s enough complexity to make it a good match for a seafood starter.

Stockists: Slurp, Sparkling English Wine and Vagabond; price approx £25

Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rosé 2009

A particularly delicate and light sparkling rosé wine from Kent, the pale salmon pink coloured Balfour Brut Rosé has a hint of redcurrant fruit, a silky texture and very fine bubbles. A perfect sparkler for the aperitif and a versatile wine for food, especially fish and chicken dishes.

Stockist information: www.hushheath.com

Ridgeview Victoria Rosé 2009

Located in Sussex on the South Downs, Ridgeview is currently on great form and this producer offers various styles of sparkling wines. I particularly like the ‘Victoria’ sparkling rosé which makes its debut this year. A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the wine has perfumed red fruits on the nose and elegant fresh raspberry notes on the palate with a hint of brioche. Delicious with some smoked salmon paté.

Stockist: Berry Bros & Rudd, £26.95