Mersea Island Vineyard -English wines in Essex
I was wandering around the Southbank over Easter Weekend and stumbled upon a slow food market set up outside the Royal Festival Hall.
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.
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.
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.