Wine and gin to slake your thirst this St George's Day
20th April 2018
This week, Times drinks editor James Viner (@QuixoticWine) picks three native tipples to toast St George's Day on April 23 - plus a bonus gin to celebrate The Queen's 91st birthday on Saturday April 21.
RACY AND FRAGRANT HIGH-STREET CHOICE
2016 Co-op Irresistible Limestone Rise, Denbies, Surrey (£8.99, Co-op)
English winemaking has developed at an unremitting pace recently, and this tasty commercial example reflects the remarkable quality coming out of vineyards in southern England.
A majestic blend of a majority (early ripening) bacchus and reichensteiner, with all the crisp lime peel, elderflower and grapefruit pizzazz you'd expect. The juicy lilt of bright acidity helps make this light-bodied Surrey white so enjoyable, particularly at the giveaway price. A perfect match with spicy Asian cuisine. Alc 11 %
FOR DEVOTEES OF SAUVIGNON BLANC & ASPARAGUS
2016 Camel Valley Bacchus, Cornwall (£13.50, The Wine Society)
This light and pungent Sauvignon Blanc-like dry white has notes of elderflower, nettles, grapefruit and hedgerow. Cool, citrusy Cornish acidity gives persistence, ensuring the finish is as fresh as a spring day. It all adds up to a dandy wine that's ideal to chill down and enjoy as a perky aperitif. Also pour it for oysters, trout and chlorophyll-rich green asparagus spears (remember St George's Day traditionally marks the start of the short British asparagus season).
Great stuff. Alc 12.5%
CELEBRATE ST GEORGE'S DAY WITH A GLASS OF ELITE ENGLISH FIZZ
2010 Furleigh Estate Sparkling Rosé, Dorset (£27-£29, Corksout/Hedley Wright/Shaftesbury Wines)
Everyone who tastes this polished chardonnay-forward Dorset wine will be impressed as there's a real drive and energy to it. It's enthralling as it's just so well-crafted, and has the sparkling pink X-factor writ large. I love the wild strawberry, redcurrant and subtle autolytic (brioche) notes, plus the marvellous, long, savoury finish. Altogether a dry, delicious and delightful vintage rosé which could take on any domestic rival with the utmost confidence - and ideal with a 'sparkling' afternoon English tea. Alc 12%
BOTANICAL SOMERSET BELLE OF THE BALL
Newton House London Dry Gin, Newton Surmaville, Somerset (£35-£36, Master of Malt/Whisky Exchange)
Despite only distilling in tiny quantities since March 2017, this outstanding artisanal small-batch gin scooped a deserved Gold medal at the World Gin Awards in January. The 12 botanicals jump out on the palate with citrus, blueberry, peach, liquorice and almond notes all working well to complement a bold, dry, piney juniper and black pepper spice hit that leaves you with a crisp, clean finish. Vivid and remarkable stuff. A must-try for any gin fan (and also a marvellous Negroni and Martini bedfellow). Rule Britannia! Alc 43.2%