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  • Writer's pictureFrancesca De Franco

5 Surrey Vineyards to Discover During English Wine Week

Updated: 13 hours ago


English Wine Week Greyfriars Vineyard, Albury Vineyard, Denbies, Chilworth Manor Vineyard, High Clandon, Surrey Vineyards, Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills

Winemaking was introduced to England by the Romans around 43 BC, and by the end of the 11th century, the Doomsday Book referenced 42 vineyards in Southern England. However, viticulture in this country has had a chequered history with several 'golden ages' followed by numerous downturns and long periods of vineyard neglect. Fast forward to the 21st century, however, and it's a very different story. 


English Wine Week 2024


The English wine industry is thriving and the future is looking ever brighter. Testament to this is the coming of age of English Wine Week - an annual celebration of all that's great about English wines and viticulture. This year it's taking place Saturday, 15th June - Sunday, 23rd June (that's over a week but who's counting?!).


Vineyards of the Surrey Hills and English Wine Week


English Wine Week Vineyards of the Surrey Hills

Surrey boasts many of England's premier wines and vineyards. This southeastern county shares the same chalky limestone soils as Champagne and has the prestige products to match (read about the Battle of Waterloo Taste-off below!). 


The Surrey Hills - a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - is a recognised wine-growing region and home to the 'Vineyards of the Surrey Hills' a group of outstanding producers comprising: Albury Vineyard, Chilworth Manor Vineyard, Denbies Wine Estate, Greyfriars Vineyard and High Clandon. These five award-winning vineyards are ambassadors for Surrey as a premium wine-producing region and are all founding members of Sustainable Wines of Great Britain.


To kick off English Wine Week, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills will hold a Summer Spectacular festival weekend (Saturday, June 15th - Sunday, June 16th) where all five vineyards host unique events and tastings.  


English Wine Week Summer Spectacular Festival Weekend Vineyards of the Surrey Hills


Ahead of this celebratory affair, here's a spotlight on these renowned vineyards and a look (and taste) of some of their wines.


 

Denbies Wine Estate


English Wine Week, Denbies, Surrey, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Surrey Vineyards

Denbies, as well as being the largest vineyard in England, is also the first and only to be certified as a Net Zero wine producer in the UK. 


With a broad portfolio of wines, there's something for everyone's palate. Its stable of six whites includes blends of grape varieties such as Reichensteiner, Bacchus, Müller-Thurgau and Ortega, as well as varietal wines of Chardonnay and Pinot Gris (see tasting notes below). On the red front, there's Redlands NV - a Rondo and Pinot Noir blend - an ideal summer red - and its 100 percent Pinot Noir made only in the best seasons. Its still rosé offering (Rose Hill) combines Pinot Noir and Dornfelder. From the increasingly popular orange wine category is its Orange Solaris.


Denbies' pantheon of sparklings range from the everyday summer drinking Whitedowns NV, its Demi-sec and the Cubitt Blanc de Blancs 2016 (aged for seven years in bottle on yeast lees) to its buttery and creamy Cubitt Blanc de Noirs, Whitedowns Rosé NV and its flagship, multi award-winning Greenfields sparkling (notes below). 


Denbies Pinot Gris 2022


English Wine Week, Denbies Wine Estate, Surrey Wines, Pinot Gris

Denbies' Pinot Gris is only made in the best of years, which is clearly evident on tasting. Initial pear aromas quickly develop into riper stone fruit, led by peach, which continues onto the palate. This is a multi-layered wine; rich with vanilla hints and some almond alongside the fruit. There's a good balancing acidity and lovely mineral finish.


Find out more and order Pinot Gris 2022.


Denbies Greenfields NV


English Wine Week Denbies Wine Estate Surrey Sparkling Wines


Denbies' signature sparkling is a golden straw colour with an enduring perlage. There is brioche on the nose as well as subtle strawberry from the Pinot Noir, which accounts for 56% of the blend (Chardonnay 32% and Pinot Meunier 12%). The palate is creamy and rich with delicate hints of honey and a continuation of the brioche. This spends a minimum of three years on lees prior to disgorgement. A very elegant sparkling.


Find out more and order Denbies Greenfields NV.


What's on for English Wine Week 2024



English Wine Week, Denbies, Surrey, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Surrey Vineyards, Summer Spectacular


Denbies is running an English Wine Week Exclusive Wine Tasting Trail (Friday, 21st June, 12.30pm & 5.30pm), which takes enthusiasts on a leisurely train ride through its 265 acres of vines. En route, there'll be a glass of sparkling to enjoy followed by a tasting of six of its award-winning premium wines with Denbies' WSET wine expert providing the full lowdown.


On Sunday, 16th June, there's a special Father’s Day event with pizza, wine and beer on the front lawn. Local singer/songwriter Luke Edney will be performing live and there'll be plenty of tasting opportunities.


For more information and booking go to: https://www.denbies.co.uk/events/forthcoming-events/


 

Albury Vineyard



English Wine Week, Albury Vineyard, Surrey, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Surrey Vineyards

This small, family-run biodynamic vineyard located by the iconic Silent Pool is Surrey's only organic vineyard and boasts one of the few female managers in England.


The Champagne grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are grown alongside Seyval and Pinot Gris. Its sparklings range from its classic cuvée featuring the aforementioned grapes and the 100% Pinot Noir Blanc de Noirs (which took gold Decanter 2022 and IEWA 2022) to its sparkling rosé and 100% Chardonnay Albury Biodynamic Wild Ferment 2018. The latter is a limited-release sparkling wine (only 500 bottles), which is fermented using wild yeasts found naturally occurring on the vineyard; it spends 54 months on lees.


Albury Vineyard Silent Pool Rosé - 2023


 Albury Vineyard, Silent Pool rosé, Surrey wine, rosé


The new vintage of Albury Vineyard's Silent Pool rosé was released on Monday, May 6th, 2024. The vineyard's flagship still wine was originally served on the Royal Barge to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Since then it's garnered such a reputation that new releases sell out quickly.


Pale salmon in colour, this Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir blend has delicate aromas of strawberries and fresh raspberries on the nose. The strawberry flavours linger on the palate and I detected a very subtle hint of star anise. This is a fresh, dry, elegant rosé with a lovely bright acidity. A wonderful aperitif.



What's on for English Wine Week 2024



English Wine Week, Albury Vineyard, Surrey, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Surrey Vineyards, Summer Spectacular

As part of the Summer Spectacular festival weekend (and to celebrate its 15th anniversary), The Albury Wine Festival, will feature tours of the vineyard, access to its wildlife walk, wine tastings (of its wines as well as wines from all other Surrey Hills Vineyards), masterclasses and local artisan food and pop-up wine bar. Booking is essential.




 

High Clandon



English Wine Week, High Clandon, Surrey, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Surrey Vineyards


Established 20 years ago, High Clandon's focus is on creating long-aged vintage sparkling wines where quality rules over quantity (just one aged-vintage cuvée is produced each year). The vineyard's south-east-facing hills make for rich, ripe grapes, which have resulted in High Clandon winning a huge number of accolades. Its multi-gold-award winning sparklings are created from the Champagne grapes of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.


The Gloriana Cuvée Prestige Vintage Brut 2018



English Wine Week High Clandon Gloriana Cuvée Prestige Vintage Brut 2018


Hailing from the 'golden summer,' the Gloriana Cuvée Prestige Vintage Brut 2018 was released in June 2023 and has already scooped Silver at the Decanter Awards. A blend of 26% Pinot Noir, 56% Chardonnay and 17% Pinot Meunier this beautifully gilded bottle is created in the classic Champagne method with five years of maturation including four years of lees ageing.


On pouring you're greeted with a beautiful golden hue and lovely fine vibrant perlage. There's elderflower and pear on the nose, which continues on the palate alongside ripe apple, peach and light brioche. This manages to perfectly combine tanginess, ripeness and creaminess and has a pleasingly long finish.



What's on for English Wine Week 2024



English Wine Week High Clandon Battle of Waterloo English sparkling versus Champagne, Summer Spectacular, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills


On Saturday, 15th June and Sunday, 16th June, as well as being able to enjoy the Gloriana Cuvée 2018 in the beautiful surroundings, you can help decide whether the English sparklings of the Surrey Hills outrank grand marque Champagnes in The Battle of Waterloo taste-off. This masterclass will be led by drinks expert Joe Wadsack (pre-booking essential).



 

Greyfriars Vineyard


English Wine Week, Greyfriars vineyard, Surrey, Vineyards of the Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine, Surrey Vineyards


The original vineyard was planted in 1989 and was one of the first in England to plant the Champagne grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Since taking over in 2010, husband and wife Mike and Hilary Wagstaff have expanded the area under vine to 40 acres on two sites. Their aim is not to replicate Champagne but rather to produce a defined range of high-quality sparkling wines which reflect the terroir.


Greyfriars has been the recipient of numerous awards over the years, most recently for its Blanc de Blancs and Cuvée Royale, which both scooped gold in the 2022 WineGB Awards. Its Rosé Reserve had the prestigious accolade of being named best English Sparkling in the International Wine Challenge in 2019.


Although known predominantly for its sparklings, Greyfriars also produces a number of still wines including its popular rosé, and 'Pearl' a limited edition blend, which combines barrel and tank-fermented Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.


Greyfriars Vineyard Classic Cuvée Brut, 2015



English Wine Week Greyfriars Vineyard Classic Cuvée Brut, 2015, Surrey Vineyards, Surrey Hills, Surrey Wine


This blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir - 61%, 16% and 23% respectively - was produced in the challenging year of 2015 (all of August and most of September were cooler than average, which dictated a very late harvest) and is a real triumph over adversity.


This multi-award winning cuvée has pear tart and ripe citrus aromas on the nose. It is crisp and clean, with a wonderful acidity, but also combines complexity and richness, which showcases the extended ageing (over six years prior to release).


Find out more and order Greyfriars Classic Cuvée 2015.


What's on for English Wine Week 2024


Greyfriars will be running tours on the evening of Friday, 14th of June as well as on the Saturday and Sunday daytimes. Saturday, June 15th will be its main Summer Spectacular event with mini-tours and a Vineyards of the Surrey Hills wine tasting as well as dedicated Greyfriars’ wine tastings. Additionally, there'll be beer tastings courtesy of Hiver. Food and jazz will be adding to the festival vibe.



 


Chilworth Manor Vineyard



English Wine Week Chilworth Manor Vineyard, Surrey wine, Surrey Hill Vineyards
Photo credit: @JulieSkeltonPhoto

The rich history of Chilworth Manor spans a thousand years. However, the vineyard itself was only planted a decade ago with production starting in 2017. Its highly sustainable site now stretches over ten acres and is home to Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are used to create its Classic Cuvée (launched 2021), Brut Rosé and still rosé.



Chilworth Manor Classic Cuvée Alwyn 2018



English Wine Week Chilworth Manor,  Alwyn from the Surrey Hills

Released late last year, the Chilworth Manor Classic Cuvée Alwyn - from the UK's 'miracle vintage' year - is named after the nobleman who was the first known owner of the original Saxon Manor of Chilworth. Produced using the Classic Method, it is made from the Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, which are hand-picked and gently pressed. The wine then spends over fifty months on lees.


The resulting sparkling is a lovely golden straw colour. There are brioche and tarte tatin notes on the nose, which linger nicely on the palate alongside subtle almond. This is warm and rich with a very good balance.



Chilworth Manor Rosé 2023



Chilworth Manor Vineyard Surrey Hills Wine, rosé wine, English rosé

This pale pink Provence-style rosé is made from gently pressed Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir grapes. There are aromas of raspberry, rhubarb and rose petal; on the palate, there's light cherry and strawberry with very delicate star anise. It possesses a lovely acidity that makes the mouth water. The perfect aperitif!



What's on for English Wine Week 2024



English Wine Week Chilworth Wine Festival Summer Spectacular 2024
Photo credit @julieskeltonphoto

Chilworth Wine Festival is taking place on Saturday, June 15th. As well as a great opportunity to see the just launched Watch House Tasting Barn, visitors can look forward to a fun afternoon and early evening of live music, street food, ice cream and tasting plenty of premium English wines from all five of the Vineyards of the Surrey Hills.




 

I've tried some wonderful wines from these five great vineyards in the county of Surrey, and there are many more to explore. Let's raise a glass to English Wine Week!


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