Five of the best English vineyards to visit this summer
The Coral Room’s General Manager, Giovanni Spezziga, shares his pick of the best English wine estates in the South East to visit this summer
A trip to Bordeaux or Piedmont might be off the cards for a little while longer, but with the English Wine industry thriving and over 200 vineyards in England and Wales welcoming visitors, a trip to one of our own homegrown, award-winning wine estates is a wonderful way for wine lovers to elevate their summer staycation.
In honour of English Wine Week (19-27 June), The Coral Room at The Bloomsbury Hotel has partnered with Rathfinny to showcase the Sussex-based estate’s award-winning sparkling wines. As home to London’s largest collection of English Wines, The Coral Room’s General Manager, Giovanni Spezziga, has shared his picks of the top English wine estates in the South East to visit this summer.
Sussex-based estate, Rathfinny, was founded in 2010 by husband and wife Mark and Sarah Driver. Known for producing some of the UK’s best sparkling wines, visitors can enjoy self-guided walking trails or summer estate tours of its 350 acres of vineyards - growing its four principle grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Grisand - as well as its RIBA nominated winery, from £25 per person, with complimentary drop-in tastings beginning from 21 June.
“Mark and Sarah Driver are dedicated to producing some of the world’s finest sparkling wines from a single-site vineyard in Sussex. Their Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs is a very elegant wine of complexity and delicacy.”
Giovanni’s pick: 2016 Rathfinny Blanc de Blancs
A stones throw from Brighton, Albourne estate is another family run estate, founded by wife and husband duo Alison and Nick Nightingale. The vineyard is made up of 42,000 vines covering 30 acres and produces traditional method sparkling wines, as well as still red, white and rose wine, and one of the first English Vermouths.There are a number of options for visitors to the estate including weekend tours, drop-in wine tasting, picnics among the vines, and even a beekeeping experience.
“Alison Nightingale lives on the vineyard with husband Nick and they are both very passionate about their wines. The initial inspiration came from visiting lovely boutique wineries and vineyards in New Zealand and Australia some 20 years ago. Albourne Estate winery overlooks the beautiful South Downs, just 8 miles from Brighton in the heart of the Sussex countryside.”
Giovanni’s pick: Albourne Estate Multi-Vintage
Renowned for its sparkling wines, the first vines were planted on the Nyetimber estate in 1988, the holy trinity of sparkling wine grapes - Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Produced using the traditional method, visitors can sample, amongst others, the estate’s Classic Cuvee, Blanc de Blancs and its 1086 Prestige Cuvees. The estate hosts open days allowing visitors to explore the vineyards, with the opportunity to upgrade to a paired dinner experience.
“The original Nyetimber estate in the heart of West Sussex was acquired in 2006 by the present owner Eric Heerema who has expanded the estate to over 400 acres, making it the largest in the UK to make wine from only estate-grown fruit. The first ever Prestige Cuvee made in England, the 2010 vintage has a rich and generous fruit character alongside a savoury flavour.”
Giovanni’s pick: Prestige Cuvee,1086
Another specialist in English sparkling wines, Ridgeview is a second generation family business that has been producing wines for 25 years and was one of the first English wineries to focus solely on the production of fizz. The estate welcomes visitors all year round for tours and hosts events such as a chefs dinner series and ‘Ridgefest’, its summer music festival. It also houses Ridgeview Wine Garden, an alfresco terrace where guests can enjoy a number of hospitality experiences among the vineyards.
“This second-generation family company was awarded the coveted global trophy of Winemaker of the Year 2018, in the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition, making history for English wine. Creators of world class quality English sparkling wine, crafted with passion and dedication on the South Downs of England since 1995.”
Giovanni’s pick: Bloomsbury
COATES & SEELY
Over a decade since setting out on their mission to create a sparkling wine to rival the best in the world, Nicholas Coates and Christian Seely’s wines can now be found listed in royal palaces and on the menus of Michelin-starred restaurants (and are the only English wine ever to have been stocked at the George V hotel in Paris). Private tours of the estate can be arranged by appointment only, and tastings or dining experiences can be arranged under Indian Mughal tents, in the vineyard, or at the private residence of the owners.
“In 2008, two old friends – Nicholas Coates and Christian Seely – embarked on a quest to create the best English sparkling wine in the ancient chalk downlands of Hampshire. Beautiful pale in colour with scents of rose-hips and strawberry and fabulously vibrant palate which teases with sweet fruitiness and great acidity through to the finish.”
Giovanni’s pick: Coates & Seely Rosé NV
The Coral Room’s English Wine Week partnership will run from Saturday 19th – Sunday 27th June 2021. The Coral Room is open daily from Monday – Wednesday: Midday – 12pm, Thursday – Sunday: 10am – 12pm. 16-22 Great Russell St, London WC1B 3NN