June update from Mark Harvey

A Bacchanalian Summer it is!

Much of the excitement in English Wine has centred around the classic Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Deservedly so when you consider the quality of the traditional method sparkling wines coming from us at Chapel Down and some other leading producers. In the last few months we have been proud to secure awards for our wines at the IWSC, Decanter and the Ultimate Wine Challenge where we were awarded the Chairman’s Trophy for our Three Graces 2014!

However, if England is to have a ‘poster grape’ all of its own, then Bacchus is the front-runner! Interest in Bacchus has been growing steadily over recent years and was recently propelled by judges at the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards giving a Platinum medal to Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Bacchus 2017. They described it as having ‘subtle oak, Fumé Blanc-esque aromas, with a delightful complexity and depth to the palate, combined with great acidity and nectarine fruit’.

Bacchus is a combination of a Riesling-Silvaner cross with Müller-Thurgau, first achieved in Germany in the 1930s. It was not allowed in commercially-available wines until the 1970s. Bacchus is a relatively early ripener in the growing season. In Germany, it was generally known for having high sugar potential and low acidity levels. It has rarely been considered good enough for premier vineyard sites for white wine in the country, where Riesling continues to reign. In England however, the colder climate lifts the acidity of Bacchus, and it has been touted as the country’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. ‘This is how England delivers the herbal pungency of Sauvignon Blanc,’ write Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand in ‘Grapes and Wines: a comprehensive guide’. They cite the aromas of hedgerow, elderflower and pear.

Our winemaker, Josh Donaghay-Spire, is a big fan! And having produced six versions of still wine including of course the single estate Kit’s Coty, last month he announced to the world a sparkling version! And unlike our current range, this is not produced via the traditional method. Josh explains: “Deciding to carbonate the wine and not to put it through traditional method was a considered choice as I wanted to retain the youthful aromatic components which Bacchus showcases so well. It’s not a wine to discuss and debate for hours or a wine to cellar for years to come; it’s an uncomplicated and very refreshing wine to open and enjoy this summer.”

The wine is fresh and aromatic with intense aromas of pineapple, grapefruit and elderflower. The clean, refreshing palate has an abundance of tropical fruit with bright acidity and a touch of sparkle. Available nationally at Waitrose and chapeldown.com I encourage you to try this exciting new wine and raise a toast to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine!



Mark Harvey, MD Wine & Spirits