why not use that time to visit some wineries. You know as one does when visiting England. In fact the response from @benton8tor was “Don’t get your hopes up, it probably won’t be very good.” I however begged to differ
Recently, I had to travel to Europe for work, so @benton8tor and I thought that could be a good opportunity to visit family in the UK if we left a couple of days earlier. @benton8tor was pretty excited to see family as was I but since we got in a bit early while everyone was still at work, I thought why not use that time to visit some wineries. You know as one does when visiting England. In fact the response from @benton8tor was “Don’t get your hopes up, it probably won’t be very good.” I however begged to differ,After all, I had seen an episode of House Hunters International, (Obviously I did my research) where they settled in the South of England to operate a winery on chalk soil. And the wine is largely sparkling. So @benton8tor reluctantly agree.
Right off the plane we stopped for breakfast at a small town somewhere in Kent then we proceeded to Chapel Down Vineyards in Tentenden Kent, https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g503919-d566283-Reviews-Chapel_Down-Tenterden_Kent_England.html Chapel Down is a fabulous vineyard that allows you to wander through the vineyards before tasting. The vineyards are a lovely walk. Returning for our tasting, the staff knows their product. They have replaced the old vines that were high producing German varieties with a more suitable grape. We tasted, whites, reds and sparkling (both white and rose) and we ere very surprised, me that the red was good! The red wine was indicative of a cooler climate red, easy drinking and elegant (Union Red). Both sparklings were delicious! So we left with a couple bottles and in my case a smug attitude that I had indeed been right. “See” I tell @benton8tor, “I was right.” He appreciates that. We also found out Chapel Down winery had provided sparkling wine for the Royal Wedding. Kate and William that is. I was even more delighted.
Off to dinner with family at the Whitmore Arms in Orsett, Essex. Whitmore Arms is still a family owned pub and as Claire, the best UK guide you could ever hope to meet informed me, it is known for its wine selection as much as its beer. Over dinner, she gave us a brief history of the pub and the family awhile I enjoyed an excellent wine list and cheese board.
No only do they have several Beaujolais crus to pick from but some excellent port options. The Whitmore Arms is a must do.https://www.whitmorearms.co.uk/
Back in Canada 2 weeks later, I take the Chapel Down wine to my wine club. I am bringing English wine, I tell other members Mostly I am met with puzzled looks and the occasional “Should I be excited about that” to which the answer is yes. Either way, at wine club I introduce my wine complete with the Royal Wedding anecdote. Everyone is skeptical. Fast forward 2 hours later and whose wine is the nights favourite? Well chalk one up for the British beating out Portugal, New Zealand, California, and Chile. Turns out English wine is indeed a royal treat.
Georgia is one of the oldest if not the oldest wine producer in the world. Again like Jura it uses more traditional methods such as making the wine in clay pots in the ground.
If you have read my blog before it might be a tiny bit obvious that I have a thing for French wine. You know, just a tiny thing. In fact out for drinks this past Friday night with friends, i was splitting a bottle of wine with some at the table. ” what are we drinking?’ she asked. Before I could answer, my other friend piped up ‘You know its French.’ she was right it was and it was delicious. We all have our wines we love, our go to wines or wine regions, but I also find it is incredibly rewarding to go out of our comfort zone and try new wines, wines we aren’t sure if we’d like, from a country that makes us say ‘really they make wine?’ or simply something you haven’t tried before. Sure there is a chance you won’t like it but what if you love it? There are so many under the radar, under valued, undiscovered wines out there. Here are my top 5 picks for the must trys
- Vin de cuit- Provence. i know I know, we are still in France. But this sweet wine produced in Provence has grape must cooked over an open fire for 10 hours. It is traditionally served at Christmas with the 13 desserts. Here is the thing, sweet wine, especially in North America has had a bad reputation. Due in large part to the culture of the late 80s and early 90s that had heavy emphasis on wine coolers, bad and I do mean bad sweet sparking wines, sweet red wines that tasted like cough syrup mixed with sugar (double shudder) and the worst offender….white Zinfandel , a wine so ridiculously sweet and disgusting it almost ruined Zinfandel grapes and rose for me. Luckily for me I like roses (thanks to Provence and 2benton8tor) and Zinfandel now but i almost didn’t try them. Sweet wines are the same. Whether it is port, sherry, or the sweet sauternes of Bordeaux, sweet wines have an undeserved bad rap. Good sweet wines are meant to be drunk after a meal with dessert or cheese. Yes they are sweet often with flavours of honey, prunes, plums ect but they are nuanced, they can have high acid to offset the sweet and are flavourful complex wines to be enjoyed. Vin de Cuit is no different. Try it as soon as you can.
- Sparking Wines from England. What you are probably asking? and yes yes yes I say. England does a have a small wine industry. In fact in Kent, the chalky soils and cliffs share the same soil as the famed Champagne region.Albeit a distinctly different climate. England is starting to produce some very interesting sparking wines. Not overly expensive but they can be hard to find. But definitely worth it.
- Green Wine from Portugal. Before leaving this year to go to Portugal, I was hearing a lot about Green wine. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t do to much (read any ) research into what it actually is. I am even more embarrassed to admit I thought it was wine with a greenish tinge. Well it is not. Green Wine is in fact more commonly known as Vinho Verde is a DOC wine region f Northern Portugal. it is usually slightly sparking due to malolactic fermentation that happened accidentally in the bottle in early years of production, consumers liked it so it stayed although the effervescence is produced differently today. Not all Vinho Verde is slightly sparking, it can be still, white, red, or rose. I have tasted both still and sparking. Both were good but I prefer the sparking, paired with a bifana YUM!! It is an easy to drink wine, light in the glass and on the palate with slightly fruity notes, an excellent summer wine. Next time I will try the red Vinho Verde rumored to be dark and peppery.
- The Jura wine region. Yes another French wine region but with excellent reason. Jura borders both Burgundy and Switzerland. A fairy small wine producing region but one of the most interesting. Jura is at the forefront of ‘natural wine production. really meaning they have kept the tradtional methods. All Jura still wines should be decanted for at least 4 hours before consuming. These wines are complex. The red and and whites age for a considerable time in oak with controlled oxidation, giving the wine interesting and unexpected flavours as in the case of whites, strong almond flavour. But Jura has 3 wine stars: -Vin Jaune literally translating to yellow win. This wine ages in oak barrels under yeast with controlled oxidation for 6 years. It has interesting nutty flavours. -Macvin du Jura a sweet fortified spicy wine ages 14 months in the barrel. -Vin de paille or straw wine. grapes are dried on straw allowing the grapes to almost dry, once pressed the flavours are concentrated producing a unique sweet wine. Jura also happens to be incredibly beautiful so….
5. Georgia, the republic not the state. Though there are arguments over where grape vines and viticulture began (was it Croatia? Was it Georgia?) Georgia is one of the oldest if not the oldest wine producer in the world. Again like Jura it uses more traditional methods such as making the wine in clay pots in the ground. Georgian wine can be hard but worth it. The wines have a different mouth feel and flavor on the palate most likely due to the clay pots and grape varieties but they are easy to drink and even easier to enjoy. Georgia like Jura is stunningly beautiful so maybe a wine vacation is in order.
Honorable mentions should go to : Croatia also a wine originator and produces some very good wines, Bulgaria and Uruguay both producers of some very interesting wines. Also Romania Lebanon, China, and India are worth a try. Where do you get these wines? Well if in London, try Gordon’s wine bar, one of the best stocked wine bars , I have ever visited. https://gordonswinebar.com/ Wine Quay in Porto Portugal is another option with excellent wine selection and knowledgeable servers. .http://www.winequaybar.com/ But do your research on wine bars, wine stores and tastings. Most importantly don’t be afraid to ask.