Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.
The official English wine week has been pushed back to the end of June, but we see no reason to delay the celebration of the growing band of English wines! With the weather we’ve been enjoying and a bank holiday weekend, now is the time to enjoy the weather with a glass of English fizz and tub of English strawberries.
We’ll admit, Great Britain and especially England, aren’t necessarily at the front of your mind when it comes to imagining great wines. If you live in the South East especially, you’ve probably noticed over the last few years that those slopes and hills at favourable angles have been planted with vines! The conditions are really good and we’re starting to get some recognition for our fantastic selection of wines and award winning sparkling wines.
You might be surprised to hear that we actually have a much longer history of viticulture that spans over 2000 years. It was only in 1536 when the Dissolution of the Monasteries ruined much of England’s wine growing.
Plus, if you’re not fond of the grape variety (there’s always a few!) it’s worth noting that wine can also be made from many other products such as strawberries, elderflower, rhubarb and even nettles and clover.
The south of England enjoys a very similar climate to Champagne, so everything is starting to fit into place. We also have chalky or sandy soils that you need to grow wonderful grapevines and while you might be concerned that it occasionally snows and gets cold in these parts, it’s actually good for the vines thrive in the winter with a hard frost and the cold to kill of any nasty bugs while they lay dormant.
English sparkling wines are made in the same way as the French Champagnes and we can even use the same grape varieties for pinot noir and chardonnay.
Knowing all that it’s a little bit strange we’re so inclined to pick up a bottle of French wine and turn our nose up at English varieties. British wines hold a certain elegance and finesse that you wont find in other wines and to top it off, we’re supporting local producers who are right here on our door step.
Pinot Noir is very much at home in the English climate. Light in tannins with hints of raspberries and cherries and sometimes in a more savoury pinot noir you will find earthy flavours like mushrooms, vanilla and forest. This wonderful wine is light enough to go with baked salmon, but also complex enough to hold it’s own with a roast duck and you won’t have too much difficulty tracking a bottle down if you’re looking in the right places. As a matter of fact British wines frequently win awards, including eight trophies for the Best International Sparkling Wine and four for the Best Sparkling Rosé.
Seeing as our wines are being recognised as a serious wine contender abroad, it’s about time we took notice and should be putting them front and centre on our menus.
You could even become a wine maker yourself and use some of your your home grown produce of forage some local hedgerows!