Brightwell Vineyards & English wine week – slideshow

English wine. English wine week. Do they make enough wine to support English wine week? Well, yeah, they do. There are over 250 vineyards in the British Isles and loads of them are winning awards and making fantastic wines. I’ve become a big fan lately, not only because I’m living here but also because I think that they’re producing some fantastic stuff. I have to say that the sparkling wines are the ones that are winning the awards but they’re getting better and better at making those whites and even, dare I say, reds! Last weekend, Andrew from Spittoon invited a bunch of us food and wine bloggers up to Wallingford, Oxfordshire to visit Brightwell Vineyards and have a taste or two of quality English wine. So one EARLY Saturday morning, I met up with eatlikeagirl, foodstories, pencilandspoon  (Mark, a beer blogger) and cooksister to brave the wilds of the English countryside. (A slideshow of my trip to the English countryside and vineyards) Our first stop was Brightwell Vineyards which has been around for about 20 years and they have a quite an extensive collection of varietals but most are experimental. They focus mainly on bacchus, ortega, reichensteiner, and dornfelder with pinot noir being planted next year. They are unusual in that they focus on still wines as opposed to sparkling which most English producers seem to gravitate to. Brightwell is not only situated next to the Thames but has a lovely duck pond with lots of wild birdies, horses, the friendliest dobermans I’ve ever met (the dogs would probably show you where the safe is), and pigs! Athough the wine pigs, as we nicknamed them, will be moving next year to make way for rows of pinot noir. The big hit of the tasting had to be the Oxford 2006 Regatta red, a complex spicy, woody, red wine. Pepper, graphite, ripe red fruits, raspberry, all those decriptors were being thrown about with abandon by the bloggers. I had to agree and it also had a lovely silky weight to it. Carol,...

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Funky English varietals at the annual trade show(w/ video)

Huxelrebe, Siegerrebe, Regner, Schönburger. The ill-fated cast of characters from an little known Wagnerian opera? “Reichensteiner and Würzer are dead” -The original title? Rondo, Ortega, and Phoenix. The Mexican villains from a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western? Madeleine Angevine. Latest X-Factor winner? Triomphe. A sports car? Orion – oh, I know that, that’s a constellation, right? Well, yes and no. Orion is a constellation but it’s also a cool climate hybrid varietal used in England to produce wine.   In fact, all of the above are just some of the rather esoterically named varietals that have been put into use to produce English still and sparkling wine. Along with the more familiar müller thurgau, dornfelder, and bacchus, and the downright prosaic chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. I just love the monikers of this cast of characters but what have the English been doing with their wackily named varietals? There are two opinions about English wine. One, the still wines are a work in progress. Two, the sparklings, though, are winners. I had the chance to put the wines to the test at the recent English wine producers Annual Trade Tasting. The show was an opportunity for us to see what those English have been up to and the launch of English Wine Week 2009. English Wine week will be held at the end of May (23rd-31st) and encompasses a variety of activities including tours, tastings, and special events in vineyards around the country. There are also plans for a Welsh Wine Week and a Devon Wine Week alongside the English events. All events can be found on their website, www.englishwineweek.co.uk  I found that the whites were not quite ready for prime time. They were competently made and drinkable but nothing really shouted out to me except the one varietal that I discovered and actually liked, the Madeleine Angevine, a white grape that produced some lovely dry and fresh wines, aromas of orange blossoms and white flowers with nice acidity and rounded body but no flabbiness. It reminded...

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