Yes, English wine and a serious contender for an increasing market share of Europe's production
Wine production in England, a centuries old tradition seriously damaged by Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1530s, is making a come-back. Denbies vineyard, in Dorking, Surrey, was planted in 1986 and now produces 400,000 bottles of quality wines every year (300,000 liters), comparable to the best wines produced in Europe and around the world.
Denbies is the largest vineyard in the United Kingdom, producing 10% of the country's wines. Set in 265 acres of south-facing slopes on the North Downs of Surrey in southern England, Denbies' chalky soil and privileged geographical position, surrounded by hills, give the vineyard striking similarities to France's Champagne region.
Denbies produces a wide variety of excellent wines, ranging from the sparkling Classic BRUT, 11.5%, (a blend of Champagne, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier grapes) and the Greenfields Cuvee Premium Sparkling, 12%, matured with yeast and stone fruit aromas, to the dry white Coopers Brook, 11.5%, matured in oak barriques or the Surrey Gold, also 11.5%, a magnificent wine which has simultaneously a spicy and fruity bouquet. The Surrey Red (12%) is a medium bodied wine with a hint of forest fruits, while the Redlands (Dornfelder and Pinot Noir) is a rare smooth, full-bodied dry red wine, very interesting and very convincing, to name just a few of the quality wines produced by this vineyard, which in less than 20 years has won an impressive list of international awards.
Denbies has a highly experienced team of dedicated professionals who have been responsible for the importation and planting of 14 varieties of grape. The wines produced depend upon the harvest of each year, which can yield dry or medium white wines, dessert wines, a variety of reds, roses and sparkling wine.
A visit to Denbies forever corrects those long-held, preconceived views that England and the English do not and cannot possibly produce wine. English wine is perhaps as misunderstood as the excellent, but rarely publicized, English cuisine.
The visitor receives a warm welcome before being taken on a tour of the wine-making process, which uses state-of-the-art facilities, and after sampling the best wines, where better to taste and experiment the surprising variety of Denbies' produce than in the glass-covered restaurant, conceived to provide a meal in all weathers in a natural environment? This before a leisurely tour of the vineyard to appreciate the beauty of the countryside and the amazing geographical and geological microcosm which provide Denbies with the perfect conditions to succeed.
For those who still doubt whether Denbies wines have the same quality as a Champagne or a Bordeaux or a Dao or a Douro or a Rioja or a Riesling or a Valpolicella or a Chianti.
Denbies Wine Estate
Surrey RH5 6AA
00 44 1306 876 616
00 44 1306 734 651
Fax: 00 44 1306 888 930
A 15-minute walk from Dorking Station on the Waterloo or Victoria lines from
London southwards. By road, on the A24, near the M25 and A3.