Laithwaites buy 6 save 25%

An English Wine tour like no other: Part 3 – Drinks at The Pig

Read Part 1: Gusbourne or Read Part 2:Simpsons  Simpsons Wine Estate

After literally sliding out of Simpsons Estate we returned to The Pig, only mildly inebriated, and got ready for dinner. They had got two more English wines in store to pair with our food.

Sugrue South Downs Dr Brendan O’Regan

The apertitif, and excellent combo with salty charcuterie and smoked cods roe, was Sugrue South Downs Dr Brendan O’Regan (only £180). It is in fact named after the man, the winemakers granduncle, who invented Duty Free and began the shopping trend we are all used to in airports. This wine was made to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the first opening of his store in 1947.

It is a multi-vintage blend comprising 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir sourced from two select vineyards in the South Downs and aged in Burgundian oak. The vintages in the blend are old giving it some real depth and complexity from the off. Critics such as Sir Hugh Johnson and Matthew Jukes rave about this wine calling it “England’s best” and the “most profound, complex and rewarding English sparkling wine”, and I find it hard to disagree. The nose showed prominent signs of well-developed age already with caramelized apple, toast and nuts. On top of this were peach and dried apricot notes followed by brioche and honey. The mouthfeel was textured and rich with racy acidity giving it a great finesse. I’d suggest getting your hands on two bottles (if not more), one to drink now, and the other to keep for a decade or more. Unfortunately, this is not the easiest wine to get hold off due to limited availability, but I can strongly recommend taking a look at what else they have to offer.

Explore Sugrue South Downs Wines >

It is very easy to say that English wine is on track (and indeed arguably already is) to be amongst the greatest wines in the world

Danbury Ridge Pinot Noir

The next wine to be presented was the sustainably focused Danbury Ridge Pinot Noir 2020 from Essex of which only 4573 bottles were produced. It influenced my decision for a gamey meat like venison as the main course. Unlike most English wine producers who put emphasis on emulating Champagne with an English twist, Danbury Ridge have drawn on Burgundy. The grapes are handpicked and hand sorted from their three different vineyards to ensure optimum quality. Winemaking is quite restrained with only very gentle techniques used including letting fermentation temperatures rise naturally. It spends 10 months in French oak barrels with stirring to encourage leesy flavours and gentle oak influence and then it is bottled without fining or filtering to avoid stripping flavour and keep the wine very natural. And how Burgundian it was. There was a ripeness about the fruits with juicy berry and black plum flavours but not on the levels of Australia or New Zealand Pinot, it was more elegant and refined. It already displayed what you might expect in a top quality Burgundy after a few years too, with forest floor and mushroom being the key pointers. Velvety tannin and bracing acidity worked beautifully in tandem to balance the wine and make the finish linger. It really had the hallmarks of a great Burgundy, just without the extortionate price tag. That is not to say it is cheap, but it is truly excellent value in the face of the competition.

Explore Essex Wines >

Sadly, that was the end of the English wines, but after this whirlwind day it is very easy to say that English wine is on track (and indeed arguably already is) to be amongst the greatest wines in the world. A decade or two more and we will see how far it will come along. We will have the advantage of being able to say how well English wine ages in 30, 40 or 50 years time like the rest of Europe has. Only time will tell. With any luck, this has inspired you to seek out a local vineyard visit or at least get your hands on English wine which is becoming easier and easier to find. The value for money is exceptional compared to other countries, it comes with the advantage of being more environmentally conscious due to lesser transport distance, and well, who doesn’t like to shop local? So, explore all our English wines today.

Explore English Wine >
 Danbury Ridge Pinot Noir  Sugrue South Downs Dr Brendan O’Regan

David Andrews, DipWSET

David Andrews, DipWSET Student

David brings great enthusiasm to the wine industry, starting with Majestic Wine in 2019 and now joining us at Winesdirect in 2023. He has completed his WSET level 3 qualification, achieving distinction for his theory, and is now nearly finished with the WSET Diploma (just awaiting results!)

As an industry enthusiast and expert, David also writes a regular blog on instagram. Check it out here @oinosattheoikos

Read more articles by: David Andrews

Let us know what you think! Review or comment on this page


Laithwaites buy 6 save 25%