It’s been a heck of a year, Covid has posed a physical health threat, an economic threat, and often hidden ….. a mental health threat. But there have been many instances of kindness and support for all of us, often not recognised. Village groups visiting elderly residents, doing shopping for them, a neighbour collecting medicines weekly, neighbours “coming together” over the garden fence for a coffee or a glass of wine. I’m sure you all have your own instances.
To many, Christmas will come as a welcome relief, a distraction from the stresses of lockdown, travel restrictions and social distancing. So let’s try and experience a little normality as we put up the decorations, consider the presents to give, what to have for lunch … turkey, beef …… or a nut cutlet! Let’s continue with another very important question in this house: “what wines to have over Christmas or on Christmas Day”?
We are having the “full English”! All award winners, most you will never have heard of, even if you live in England and buy in supermarkets! Here’s a summary of our choices, all English, all easily available …… but only if you know where to look as I will mention shortly:
The Pre Lunch Wine:
Chapel Down, Sparkling Bacchus
“Our love affair for the Bacchus grape varietal continues with our 7th expression of the grape. Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus 2019 is characterised by aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and elderflower. The palate is tropical and floral with a crisp texture and a refreshing finish.” (Waitrose £11.99,)
The First Course Wines:
Hush Heath, Balfour Cuvee Rose, and Stopham, Pinot Gris 2018
“Our Cuvee Rose is made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and true to the signature style of Balfour this wine is beautifully pale coral in colour, with wild strawberry and citrus flavours balanced with a vibrant acidity. Try it with Charcuterie, poached salmon and vegetarian lasagne” (M&S, £20)
“Our Pinot Gris is off-dry, with aromatic peach and pear fruit alongside the floral character on the nose. On the palate, this has excellent balance with crisp acidity. It is fairly full in body, with plenty of juicy fruit intensity, but is refreshing and long, with a lively citrus and stone fruit finish. Excellent with spicy dishes and roast pork.” (Stopham Estate, £16)
The Main Course Wine:
Gusbourne, Boot Hill, Pinot Noir 2018
“Soft, yet rich and clean, this wine shows all the classic Pinot Noir aromas of ripe strawberry, morello cherry and earthy spiciness.” (Gusbourne Estate, £35)
The Dessert & Cheese Course Wines:
Three Choirs, Noble Harvest 2015
This wine, only produced 2 years in 10 in very limited quantity, has an intensely aromatic, lychee and raison nose and leaves a rich grape character on the palate. This is still cool climate wine and does not have the stickiness of many late harvests, but goes well with fruit deserts and cheeses.
A BIG English Revolution Needed, NOW!
Now, I mentioned earlier that if you live in England you should try these wines “if you can find them”. But there’s a problem, a big one so let’s kick off with some images from British supermarkets:
Are you seeing what I’m seeing? How on earth can a British supermarket BURY our award winning wines in The Rest of Europe section or even in Spain! Bloody hell, this is either deliberate or outright incompetence! I have also searched for “English Wine” on some major U.K. supermarkets and what popped up …… an Italian Chianti and an Argentine Malbec. Not funny. These wines are not nonentities, Nyetimber and Winbirri have won global platinum awards for their sparkling wine and still Bacchus wines, Chapel Down, Gusbourne and Hush Heath are up with them in international awards too. Google their websites, take a look at their class, quality, style. What on earth is wrong with a bit of national pride in something as good as this, what is wrong with supporting “local” businesses seriously affected by the Covid pandemic? We have stunning vineyards in Norfolk, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Cornwall ….. get out there and support them, go for a free tasting, ask their advice for Christmas and you will be welcomed unbelievably.
If you don’t live in England, no problem, my message is the same at present, Think Local, Drink Local, Support Local, whether you are in California or Cornwall, Sussex or Sydney. Just do it. And if you live in England, get stuck into the managers of Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, M&S, Morrison’s, and ANYBODY else who thinks Sussex is in Spain, Kent in Argentina, or that we are insignificant in the Rest of Europe!