WINE ‘It’s a se­ri­ous glass of wine for the money’

Accrington Observer - - LEISURE - ANDY CRON­SHAW

THE recent re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of English wine mak­ing is a great suc­cess story.

More and more grapes are be­ing grown in Eng­land, par­tic­u­larly in the south east, and bot­tle fer­mented sparkling wine has reached lev­els of qual­ity more ex­pected of Cham­pagne.

Ge­og­ra­phy is very im­por­tant and that’s why the Downs, North and South with their chalk based soils, have be­come one of the most pro­duc­tive ar­eas.

They are es­sen­tially part of the same lime­stone plateau that stretches to Cham­pagne it­self.

The sig­nif­i­cance of this fac­tor can­not be over es­ti­mated be­cause it’s the min­eral na­ture of the soil that gives the wines fresh­ness and pro­vides the right kind of en­vi­ron­ment for vines.

West­well wines in Kent has vines that have been planted strate­gi­cally based on ex­pe­ri­ences of con­di­tions in the North Downs.

Their lo­ca­tion is dis­cov­ered just be­neath the Pil­grims Way, a route used for cen­turies by Pil­grims trav­el­ling to Can­ter­bury. As with many English pro­duc­ers, mak­ing sparkling wine to the Method Cham­p­enoise recipe is para­mount. West­well have been able to plant the two essen­tials: Chardon­nay in very flinty shal­low soils and Pinot Noir in sandier soils.

They also make use of Or­tega, once quite pop­u­lar in Ger­many.

It’s an in­spired choice as it pro­duces fullflavoured white wines that are quite soft. With the cool con­di­tions of an English sum­mer acid­ity is not some­thing that English wine mak­ers need to ac­cen­tu­ate.

All West­well’s grapes are hand­picked and pressed gen­tly with min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion.

An­other ad­van­tage of West­well is that you can or­der di­rect from the es­tate re­mov­ing fur­ther costs from the chain; be­cause of lower yields and pro­duc­tion English wine can be rel­a­tively ex­pen­sive. West­well Or­tega Clas­sic 2016 (west­well wines.com £75 for case of six or £12.95 per sin­gle bot­tle)

A sur­pris­ingly rich wine with scents of honey­suckle and ap­ple blos­som. The palate is a lit­tle waxy over its blast of grape­fruit cit­rus. The fin­ish is long and re­fresh­ing. I can imag­ine that this wine would pair nicely with seafood but its best set­ting may sim­ply be when placed on its own nicely chilled in the gar­den. West­well Spe­cial Cu­vée 2014 (west­well­wines. com £165 per case of six or £29.95 per sin­gle bot­tle) I’ve tasted some of the very best English sparklers from Nyetim­ber and Ridgeview and I have to say this is up there. It’s a se­ri­ous glass of wine for your money made, just like Cham­pagne, from Chardon­nay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Me­u­nier. It’s left in bot­tle for 24 months be­fore dis­gorge­ment when the yeast sediment is re­moved. There’s plenty of bis­cu­ity bite to this cu­vée with an el­e­gant nose and rich lemony char­ac­ter to the palate.

West­well Spe­cial Cu­vee 2014

West­well Or­tega Clas­sic

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