Raise a Glass to Father’s Day and English Wine Week this weekend

Raise a Glass to Father's Day and English Wine Week this weekend

Put down that pack of gift box socks, this top-notch Father’s Day drinks selection is sure to put a smile on your dad’s face! From a gastronomic award-winning cider from Devon to a stellar English sparkling wine from Hampshire, these special celebratory bottles are certain to get papa’s tastebuds tingling this Sunday…. 


1) Award-winning, medium-dry, vegan-friendly, gluten-free vintage ‘exhibition’ cider from Devon

Sandford Orchards, Vintage Reserve 2019 finest cask-aged cider, near Crediton, Devon, also Darts Farm, Topsham (£32 for 12 x 500ml, sandfordorchards.co.uk or £3 each at quickes.co.uk; 7.4%)

I don’t often recommend cider but I was knocked out a while ago by this award-winning, vintage, cask-aged craft Devon example. It’s medium-dry, made from 100% fresh cold-juice ferments from late-pressed, cider-specific apples with largely high levels of tannin and matured in large wine casks sourced from the dynamic wine region of Priorat in Catalonia, north-eastern Spain. Peach, honey, yellow plum, butterscotch, apricot, hay/straw, caramel, oaky and dried fruit flavours jostle for position. Gastronomic tannins kick in on the finish; the balance is spot on. Time for the cheeseboard (hello Quicke’s cheddar) or a picnic with pork pies, sausage rolls and scotch eggs. Curry perhaps? ‘Cider done right,’ as Sandford says.


2) Must-try new Tesco French rosé from the southern Rhône valley for the garden & BBQ

Domaine d’Arbousset Tavel Rosé 2021, Rhône, France (£12, Tesco, 13.5%)

While others are pouring Provençal pinks this summer, why not dare to be different and drink this delightful, weightier, deeper coloured, red fruit-scented rosé from a specialist all-rosé appellation contrôlée, less than 10 miles (16KM) southwest, on the opposite bank of the Rhône River from Châteauneuf-du-Pape? Made using fairly lengthy maceration, it’s bursting with juicy, easy-glugging, tangy raspberry, pomegranate and strawberry fruit and is enlivened by bright, well-integrated, minerally acidity and a gently spicy, finish. A top-notch summer food-friendly pink that’s certain to be a rip-roaring success at dad’s celebratory garden parties and barbecues. It leaves an impression. Vive la pink vinous différence! Drink as a substitute for red wine (and Provençal rosé) this sizzling summer. Tesco, take a bow.


3) A fine white made in a sustainable, ethical fashion from the cool coastal vineyards of Stellenbosch, South Africa

Journey’s End Winemakers’ Selection Chardonnay 2021, Coastal Region WO, South Africa (£12.99, mix 12, Laithwaites, 12.5%)

Relatively early-ripening chameleon chardonnay is massively multipurpose, adapts well to being aged and fermented in oak and can make potentially outstanding wines, both sparkling and still. Here’s a racy alternative to white burgundy from South Africa, made at a sustainability-minded estate owned by the British émigré Gabb family (it was named Ethical Company of the Year in The Drinks Business Green Awards in 2020). This fine-boned, vegan-approved Laithwaites exclusive has vibrant, juicy peach, pineapple, melon and citrus fruit caressed by light creamy/almondy oak and some mandarin tang. A subtle mineral feel on the fresh, long finish, invites the second glass. Pour with roast chicken, creamy fish pies, trout, or smoked salmon.


4) Must-try classic splash-out treat: Aldi’s new Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Vielle Étoile Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017, Rhône, France (£19.99, Aldi, 15%)

For all of those full-bodied-loving red wine imbibers, this one has the old man’s name on it. Created in 1936, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (CDP) was the very first French wine appellation. This dashing, potent, velvety, violet and bramble-scented, herby, raspberry-and-sweet-spice-stashed, vegan-approved example gets my thumbs up. The palate is on another level with a fireworks spectacle of flavours but it is the astonishing length, fine filigree of ripe tannins and integrated alcohol that sets it apart. A garlic-and-rosemary-crusted leg of lamb, beef wellington or duck is the way to go. Serve very lightly chilled in the summer – after all, this is made from a majority grenache noir, a late-ripening, thin-skinned variety with soft tannins and lowish acidity. Perhaps decant too. dad will be smiling from ear to ear when he opens it. A real treat if you feel like splashing out.


A must-try sub-£20 supermarket single malt whisky from ‘The Queen of the Hebrides’

If smoky, full-on Scotch whisky is dad’s thing, head a little further down Aldi’s booze aisle and grab a bargain. Smoky, briny and moreish Glen Marnoch Islay Single Malt Whisky (just £16.99) just received a Gold at the International Spirits Challenge 2022 and will ignite dad’s inner firework. No Ardbeg but it has ticks in all the key boxes (and comes in a rather lovely gift box). Easy drinkability, done very well. Slàinte Mhath!


5) Pick of the pops for poppa to toast English Wine Week – scrumptious chic bubbly from the chalk slopes of the N. Hampshire Downs

Coates & Seely, Brut Reserve NV, Hampshire (£32.95-£34.95, Lea & Sandeman, coatesandseely.com, 12%)


It’s the start of English Wine Week this Saturday so why not pop open a bottle of fabulous homegrown fizz? Miss this delicious, award-winning (it just got ‘Best in Show’ at Decanter World Wine Awards 2022) Hants bubbly and dad will miss out. Made from the classic Champagne grape mix of pinot noir (50%), topped up with chardonnay (40%) and pinot meunier (10%), you get a stylish, toasty, nutty sparkler with a creamy texture, fine mousse, plenty of lively orchard fruit character and a lingering finish. This comes from the team headed by the genius of self-taught, terroir-focused, celebrated consultant winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt. Refreshing and compelling, it’s a masterful, benchmark, personality-laden release that sings from start to finish. Papa can enjoy it as a sparky aperitif or with smoked salmon, eggs Benedict/Florentine or posh fish and chips.

Get involved with English Wine Week 2022

Cellar doors, winery tours, on-site restaurants and vineyard trails have reopened so if there’s a vineyard or winery near you, why not pay a visit and get tasting?! From bubbly to cracking still whites and reds, there is something to suit every taste this English Wine Week. I plan to attend Simpsons’ Wine Estate Open House celebrations in Barham on Saturday between 11 am and 3 pm (all proceeds from ticket sales will go to Demelza Hospice Care for Children). Visit winegb.co.uk, simpsonswine.com and winegardenofengland.co.uk for more information

Follow James on Twitter @QuixoticWine

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