Grand Hotel: English Wine Week – how times have changed!

JPEt The Grand Hotel Eastbourne SUS-140521-164803001
JPEt The Grand Hotel Eastbourne SUS-140521-164803001

With English Wine Week kicking off on Saturday May 24, Ronnie Tayao, sommelier at The Grand Hotel, takes a look at a selection of vineyards behind some of the best wines in the country

England is a notoriously tricky location for producing wine with southern England being at the absolute northern tip of the ideal climate required to grow quality vines.

However, in recent years English wine production has fast become the subject of much critical acclaim and independent-wine producers in the region are now amongst some of the best in the world for consistently producing top quality, award winning wines year after year.

Introduced by the Romans in the 19th century, in relative terms, England is a very minor producer of wine, making up just 1% of the domestic market. Here I take a look at some of the exceptional wines, which will be on offer at The Grand Hotel throughout English Wine Week, and the vineyards behind them.

Sparkling White Wine - Ridgeview Cuvee Merrett Bloomsbury 2010 – Decanter World Wine Awards Best Sparkling 2010:

Founded in 1994 by Mike and Chris Roberts, Ridgeview Wine Estate specialises in creating world class sparkling wines on the South Downs of England and has received numerous medals, accolades and awards for their superb range of wines.

The limestone soils of Sussex make it particularly suitable for the grape varieties used in sparkling wine production – perfect for producing award winners!

Ridgeview’s signature blend Bloomsbury is a Chardonnay dominant blend, which is supported by the fullness of Pinot Noir and Pinot Muenier. With citrus fruit aromas and a hint of melon and honey, the Chardonnay dominance of this wine brings finesse, along with crisp fruit freshness and toasty notes. Excellent as an aperitif or served with shell fish.

White Wine - Denbies Surrey Gold – England’s best-selling English wine:

Renowned for being the largest vineyard in England, the Surrey based producer has been family owned and run since 1984. They now compete on an international level and have recevied multiple gold awards for their sparkling wine production including the first ever gold for an English rosé wine.

Made from the Muller Thurgau Bacchus Ortega grape, Denbies Surrey Gold has a fragrant nose of violets leading to a well-structured fruit driven palate with a flinty backbone and hints of ginger. Excellent as an aperitif or served with spicy food.

Red Wine - 2011 Lychgate Red – Bolney Wine Estate – 2011 Bronze Medal winner:

Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex started back in 1972, with three acres of vines, as Bookers Vineyard. The Estate has now grown to 39 acres specialising in red wine production. Many national and international awards have been won by the vineyard, which houses a state-of-the-art winery.

An elegant, easy drinking wine, the medium bodied 2011 Lychgate Red has notes of red fruits with a hint of leather lead through to juicy plum and berry flavours together with soft tannins. It is perfect served with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding or salt marsh lamb.

Rosé Wine – 2013 Chapel Down English Rose – Chapel Down, Tenterden:

The talented staff at Chapel Down, based in Tenterden, Kent, are enthusiastic producers of world class, interesting, distinctive and award-winning English wines. Chapel Down is rapidly establishing itself as a premium wine brand and is gaining national and international recognition.

Chapel Down English Rose has attractive notes of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and redcurrant with similar characters to be found on the palate, which is full of juicy ripe summer berries leading to a crisp and refreshing finish. It is great served chilled with barbecues, salads and grilled shellfish.

All of the above wines will be available to purchase in The Grand Hotel during English Wine Week between May 24 and June 1. For more information about The Grand Hotel Eastbourne please visit