We spend loads of time talking about great wine from around the World, Australian Chardonnay, Italian Pinot Grigio, English Bacchus from Norfolk etc…. Sorry did someone mention English wine from Norfolk in the same sentence as great wine? Well yes I did. English Wine has been making a great reputation for itself over the last few years and every year it seems to get better.
Winbirri Vineyards in Surlingham, Norfolk are at the forefront of this revolution. About 5 miles from Norwich Winbirri is a lot further North than the more famous Kentish and Sussex producers but Lee Dyer has been producing some fantastic wines and picking up loads of awards for the last few years.
Over the last couple of months the Winbirri Bacchus was awarded the ‘wine of the year’ award at the 2016 English and Welsh Wine Awards. This is a very keenly contested Awards ceremony. This was then followed up with the ‘Best Norfolk Producer’ at the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards, despite being more regional it is a very hotly contested award in a very rural community!
Winbirri is a truly family business. Lee’s father, Steve planted a few vines just to ‘see what they would do’. This became an established vineyard in 2007 and is now covering 25 acres, producing around 80,000 bottles per year.
The wines that are produced by Winbirri are:
Winbirri Bacchus, clearly the star of the show having won gold medals for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages. It has also been voted in the top 20 Bacchus in this time, bearing in mind that almost every vineyard in England grows the Bacchus Grape but its shining glory is as ‘Wine of the Year’ at the English and Welsh Wine Awards in 2016. https://www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/winbirri-bacchus
Winbirri Vintage Reserve, What a great Sparkling wine this is, made from the traditional Champagne blend and using the same methods, this produces a great sparkling wine. Full of flavour and loads of little bubbles streaming up the glass, a sure sign of quality. https://www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/winbirri-vintage-reserve
Winbirri Pinot Noir is by far and away the most popular red wine made by Winbirri. Maybe as it is a known grape but do not be lulled into a false sense of security. This is a much more robust wine in weight and character than you may be expecting. www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/winbirri-pinot-noir
A fantastic offer, to introduce you to these wonderful wines we have put a case together for you to enjoy, and to make it sweeter we will deliver it free! https://www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/winbirri-award-winning-english-case
Set in the heart of Tuscany the approach to the vineyard is just stunningly beautiful. The drive up the 3 mile dirt track lined with tall slim pine trees is exactly what you would image. Established in 1970, Caparzo is one of Montalcino’s 30 historic wineries, and is amongst those that contributed to the fame of Brunello di Montalcino. The vineyard was bought in a dilapidated condition in 1998. There has been much investment in the vineyard, modernisation in the winery and the help of winemaker Massimo Bracalente have all ensured that Caparzo is now a top Brunello producer.
The Caparzo estate covers 200 hectares. 90 hectares are vineyards and 9 of these are designated for Brunello, distributed throughout different hillsides in the DOCG, ranging from 220 to 300 metres above sea level.
So on to the wonderful wines we looked at, there were 7 red wines in total available in 3 sizes. All are available at www.warlinghamwines.com but we shall feature 2 wines.
The classic Brunelli di Montalcino 2011. This is the wine for which the area is most famous and this is an excellent example of this wine. It is a Sangiovese grape that has been aged in french oak for 3 years and then a further year of bottle ageing. A ruby colour, tending towards garnet as it ages. A complex and ample bouquet, wild berry fruit, tea leaf and orange peel. Palate is dry, firm, both delicate and austere but smooth and warming, like a cuddle in a glass! Very long length and persistent tannins on the finish.
Sangiovese di Toscana is a bright ruby colour with hints of violet. An intense fruity bouquet, with ripe blackberries, wild strawberries and spice. The palate has a warm brambly feel, full of soft ripe fruit and a persistent spice to the finish. Very easy drinking and something to impress your friends. Stunning value at under a tenner!
So dry January is over and its time to restock the cellar. We thought that we would look at a great little vineyard with a fantastic provenance, what does this mean? Coteaux du Giennois (pro: co-d-jenwar). This is a little known appellation North-east of Sancerre and around the town of Gien, with the proximity to Sancerre there is no surprise that the wines are similar in style but at around two thirds of the cost. This offers some great wines at fantastic prices.
The Wines of the appellation are a crisp white, a dry rose and a fruity red.
White wine – 100% Sauvignon Blanc and offers a fruity dry white wine, a pale straw yellow in appearance. The nose has some minerality with floral and quince notes. this leads to bright citrus flavours with a crisp finish, great with goats cheese or chicken in a lemon sauce or just on its own! more info – https://www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/coteaux-du-giennois-blanc-2014/
Rose Wine – A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, a dry rose with plenty of fruit flavours, pale salmon in appearance. Fresh notes of peach and nectarine on the nose leading onto tart fruity flavours. A very refreshing wine. Great with seafood and shellfish with creamy sauces, perfect on a balmy summer evening on its own with good friends. More info – https://www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/coteaux-du-giennois-rose-2012/
Red Wine – A blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay. A medium bodied wine with a fantastic ruby red appearance. On the nose there are red and black berries and a gentle pepperiness. This leads onto subtle flavours of black fruits and a generous finish. We like this wine a lot. Great with roast pork, barbecued duck, try it a little chilled in the summer! More info – https://www.warlinghamwines.com/shop/coteaux-du-giennois-rouge-2010/
A bit more information
The wine maker – Domaine Philippe Raimbault
Philippe Raimbault is a 9th generation winemaker. His family have been making outstanding wines since 1701. He has been learning his craft since the age of 10, working closely with his grandfather and father for many years until he decided he wanted to make wines completely by himself after his father retired. They produce wines in three appellation only from their own grapes. The càve and Sancerre vines are in our village of Sury en Vaux, about 6km from Sancerre. Pouilly Fumé vines are just the other side of the Loire River. The third appelation is Coteaux du Giennois, which is about 15km from the Pouilly Fumé vines. He has 16 hectares in total. Philippe is an award winning, hands-on, driven and passionate winegrower, striving to make the best wines possible.
Coteaux du Giennois has a total vine area of around 475 acres, about half of this is planted for white wine, 40% for red wine and the remaining 10% for Rose wine. This gives a total of around 450,000 of wine or 335,000 bottles if you prefer!
Soil: The vines are planted on silica or limestone soil There are also old Loire terraces at Gien and extensions of mainly Sancerre limestone geological formations to the east of the Cosne fault, and silica to the west, with tertiary flint deposits.
Climate: A temperate climate with a continental influence, this appellation is often at risk for spring frosts. The average yearly temperature is comparable to that of Sancerre. Average annual rainfall is 850 mm (33.5 inches), the highest in the Centre-Loire.
The Government have changed the limits with out any consultation to the drinks industry. Is this fair?
The new recommendations are amongst the lowest in Europe, is this now ‘Nanny State’ mentality or realistic advice?
The New Rules focuses on the limit for men down to that of women i.e. 2-3 units per day and a maximum of 14 units per week but now including not drinking on consecutive days and a total abstinence for pregnant women. Full guidance is at www.drinksaware.co.uk This also includes ‘In particular, stronger evidence is available that the risk of cancers, especially breast cancer, increases directly in-line with consumption of alcohol.’ But the limits for women not been changed?
Industry thoughts on the change are focused on the lack of consultation with the industry, the industry has worked with the government over the last 19 years to educate us on safe limits. The Wine and Spirit Association has shown that this education has helped reduce alcohol consumption by 19% over the last 10 years, that is contrary to the picture that the press paint! As to the health benefits, it is suggested that following these recommendations make your chance of dying from an alcohol related disease less than 1% or about as dangerous as watching 1 hour of television a day or a couple of bacon sannies a week! A great article was published by Harpers through the following link – http://www.harpers.co.uk/news/industry-blindsided-by-latest-government-drinking-advice/529911.article
So what are our thoughts? Well we are not experts or doctors but we have seen a bit of life! We also promote responsible drinking. As a career Policeman I have seen the effects of irresponsible drinking and in the same way that any addiction can destroy lives. YES, I do get fed up with being demonised because we sell and drink alcohol, good quality alcohol in our case. People baulk at buying a case of 12 bottles of wine for a month but that is just 3 bottles per week and usually shared between two, is that excessive if taken between Friday and Sunday with dinner, the government says yes! Yes whenever this is portrayed on the news they show some town centre on a Saturday night where people have been illegally served drink whilst already drunk, no action is taken against the night cubs or bartender, isn’t this where the problem lies? What are your thoughts?
John Tisshaw, Owner of Warlingham Wines