If you are ever lucky enough to drive down the motorway in the garden of England and turn off one of many roads then I’m sure you’ll experience quaint little England. Nice neat houses, quiet country lanes and maybe even a fabled sloe gin hedge! But one such village, Tenterden, is witnessing a revolution. Here lies Chapel Down.
Ever since the popularity of English wine Chapel Down has been at the forefront of consumers minds for its approachable price and pleasant characteristics. This mini industry from the 388 Acres is operated from 4 vineyards. Kits Coty vineyard, Court Lodge Farm, Street Farm and a newly acquired parcel of land near Boxley.
Having visited the estate this month I was impressed by the operations, by the enthusiasm of the staff and by the range of wines. Far to short an article to list them all here!
Two things that are evident in the industry today is firstly all producers do not lay their wines down for investment and as a result omit a vintage ratings system. Secondly due to the nature of youthful wines and the lack of oak the wines are intentially made to be drunk young.
So for the majority of still and sparkling wines they are void of oak. Very few will venture into Grand Cru Chablis characteristics. It’s almost a cartel of an Anti –Oak movement. It’s a brave producer that goes alone in this embryonic industry. On the flip side drink them young and you sell more and you avoid storage costs on older wines. Costs are also recouped quicker. Forward thinking for an industry on the up. So not only does Chapel Down have prime vineyards in the heart of the garden of England (Kent) but it also produces a world-class range of sparkling and still wines, together with the award-winning range of Curious beers & cider.
Trade body Wine GB has said that it believes the UK industry, which includes vineyards across England and Wales, could be producing 40 million bottles of sparkling wine per year by 2040.How could you disbelieve them. 2018’s bottle production was 15.6 million bottles produced up from 5.9 million in 2017. Quite remarkable!
Because of their brand they supply Gordon Ramsay, The Royal Opera House, The London Symphony Orchestra, No 10 Downing Street and are the official sparkling wine of the Oxford & Cambridge Boat Races ….but all this talk of British wines! Why do we like it so much and why is it so popular? Look at the White Cliffs of Dover and you see chalky soils. Perfect climatic conditions with perfect soils. This combination allows vineyards to produce world-class sparkling wines and dry aromatic still white wines. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Bacchus all thrive on the South Coast
Chief grape varieties at Chapel down
- Chardonnay:Grown largely for sparkling wines.
- Pinot Noir: The variety thrives in cool climates (UK) & produces delicate thin-skinned grapes with low tannins & an abundance of red fruit
- Bacchus:England’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. Sometimes shows punchy tropical fruit to more restrained citrus and gooseberry.
Chapel Down has its own premium of wines range :
The Kit’s Coty vineyard has a lime-rich chalk soil and a unique microclimate on the North Downs. It is named after the monuments to the first settlers of Britain’s earliest farming society who recognised the fertility of the land in the third millennium BC. The expansive southerly aspect ensures the vines capture the sunshine all year long while free-draining chalk soils provide the perfect condition for producing well-balanced vines and intensely flavoured fruit. 3 notable examples include:
KIT’S COTY COEUR DE CUVÉE 2013. First British wine over £100.00 per bottle.
KIT’S COTY BLANC DE BLANCS 2014 Chardonnay 40.00 per bottle.
KIT’S COTY CHARDONNAY 2016 Wild-ferment Chardonnay, which has been matured in old French oak for nine months. £30.00 per bottle.
3 grape varieties tried and tested and worth recommending.
GRAPE VARIETY 100% Pinot Noir
TASTING NOTES: Fresh strawberries, cherries and redcurrants with background notes of toasty shortbread. The palate is crisp and fresh, its fine mousse contributing to the light and effortless style.
SERVING SUGGESTION : Great as an aperitif or for pairing with light pasta dishes and summer fruit desserts.
KITS COTY BACCUS 2017
GRAPE VARIETY: 100% Bacchus
TASTING NOTES: This very ripe style of Bacchus has guava, melon and peach aromas with background oak influence. The palate is pure and focused with more tropical flavours and an exceptional length.
SERVING SUGGESTION: An ideal pairing to white crab meat salad, asparagus risotto and lightly smoked fish.
CHAPEL DOWN TENTERDEN ESTATE BACCHUS 2018
GRAPE VARIETY: 100% Bacchus
VINEYARDS : Fruit is sourced exclusively from the Tenterden vineyard, which is home to the oldest Bacchus vines producing the lowest yields but finest fruit.
TASTING NOTES: Aromas of lime zest and elderflower followed by a refreshing palate of juicy citrus fruit and a pure mineral finish.
SERVING SUGGESTION : A great match with Pork Belly or pair with a wide variety of seafood dishes. An ideal alternative to New World Sauvignon Blanc.
Sometimes its not just the words that matter its the vibrancy and energy that is displayed. Still as fresh as it was all those years ago….. See where I’m going with this !
(and these two need no introduction!)
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