Mersea Island Vineyard -English wines in Essex

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at the Southbank

I was wandering around the Southbank over Easter Weekend and stumbled upon a slow food market set up outside the Royal Festival Hall.

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spit roast pig

a little paella?

a little paella?

I like slow food and the slow food movement as much as the next person but what really made my eyes light up was the English wine booth I found nestled between the English oysters and Stilton cheese. Mersea Island Vineyard had their entire range out for a taste. Mersea Island is situated in the estuaries of the Blackwater and Colne rivers, about 8 miles south of Colchester, Essex. To you and me, it’s way east of London, about as far as you can go. According to their rep manning the booth, Claire, legend has it that there have been grapes on the island since Roman times. The vineyard is also situated facing south so as to get as many rays from the sun as possible.

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the Mersea Island range

The vineyard has been around since 1985 and they grow 5 different varietals, muller thurgau, ortega, chardonnay, pinot muenier, and reichensteiner, cool climate varietals which do very well here in the English clime.

I tried all four wines they had on tasting. I started off with their dry white, the  Mersea Native, (£8.75) made with the reichensteiner varietal. It said dry on the label but I thought that was debatable. On sipping,it had an elderflower character to it on the nose and palate, not exactly dry either. I would have said it was off dry, it was very fruity but did have good acidity.

After that I went for the Mersea Vintage Sparkling Wine, (£15.00)a blend of chard, p. muenier, and reichensteiner. They make their sparklings in the traditional method thus producing a wine with a slighty nutty character, ripe apples and rather big bubbles for a method traditional made wine. It was dry but had a short finish.

I then tipped back the “Summer Days“, (£8.50)medium-dry white, made with muller-thurgau. This one to me seemed drier then the previous one with  lovely grapefruit aromas and flavours. It didn’t seem medium dry at all, more on the dry side, nice body to it but a bit short on the finish. I quite enjoyed it.

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"Summer Days"

The last one was the rose, the Island Blush (£10). This one was a blend of their whites and then fermented on the skins of the p. muenier. It made for a rather sweet rosè, boiled raspberry sweets, off dry. I can see this being popular for those who like their rosès on the sweet side.

All in all, I’d buy the Summer Days white if I had to chose one, a perfectly serviceable white and if you want to buy English, you could do much worse ( I won’t mention the English merlot I had the other day). They also have a brewery on site and produce a number of Cask beers, all the info is on their site.

There’s a big food and drink festival coming up, the Mersea Island Festival at the end of May (23rd -24th) but I won’t be able to make it due to previous committments. Too bad for me but it sounds like a good time with plenty of local food and bev on offer (and it’s free admission!) Afterwards I went for a walk in Hyde Park where there were plenty of wildflowers about.

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Bluebells and daffodils in Hyde Park

12 Comments

  1. I missed the slow food movement over easter but I’m looking forward to going to the next one. Your picture of the spit roast pig looks awesome.

  2. I;ve never been more disturbed by a photo of a pig. :(

    However, YES, more more more English wines please.

    • Really? I thought the roasted pig was kinda coool and it smelled realllly good! You can be sure I’ll be looking for more English wine, there’s got to be more around here somewhere…

  3. Winesleuth, no I haven’t tried the Chapel Down Rose (amazingly – Ive tried more or less everything else they produce). Hush Heath…..well I’ve certainly got my work cut out to catch up.

    • You really should check out Balfour Brut Rose, it really is world class. I know it’s available from some M&S’s. Keep an eye out here, next week there’s the annual English wine trade tasting here in London which I’ll be sure to blog about.

  4. Not a producer I’m familiar with either; but then I don’t know many English wine producers at all! Time to rectify the situation I think.

    • I wasn’t familiar with them either until the market. Just goes to show, there’s a lot of unexplored territory out there!

  5. No, never heard of Davenport vineyards – thanks again for another tip. Nothing like a nice sunny English day, drive in the countryside visiting vineyards and purchasing the wine at source. Only problem is – not being able to actually drink it due to driving!

    I’m a big fan of Chapel Down Bacchus reserve, and Biddenden Ortega – strangely enough, I first came across these in restaurants in London and was blown away – so summery and light.

    • Have you had the Chapel Down rose? Quite refreshing and dry. Also Hush Heath do a fabulous sparkling, the Balfour Brut sparkling rose, both of which I’ve blogged about here previously.

  6. I’m a big fan of English wine, I try and drive down to Kent and visit the Chapel Down and Biddenden vineyards to stock up a few times a year (with a detour to Tunbridge Wells for a bit of a wander around and some shopping). But an Essex wine? news to me, fantastic considering I live in the county. Thanks for the heads up.

    • You’re welcome, that’s what the Winesleuth is here for! hope you get a chance to check them out. Have you heard of Davenport Vineyards? They’re in Tunbridge Wells and I’m pretty sure their wines are available locally. They’re sold under the name Limney Estate dry white and sparkling. Cheers!

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