Wine of the Month - July 2022


Heppington Vineyard Pinot Noir Rosé

Until not too long ago English wine was still a curious novelty you’d probably only come across at some rural farm shop, or stately home gift shop and certainly wasn’t something a self-respecting wine merchant would want to have on their shelves. How times change. The best of the wines we make in this country now bear comparison with those from any of the long established wine producing nations anywhere in the world. No longer do customers suppress a snigger when we point them to our growing range of English wines – they’re properly serious wines these days and that’s something we’re pleased to get behind. It's high time therefore that we chose one to be our ‘Wine of the Month’. And given that summer’s reaching its high point we’ve gone for a delicious, pale and elegant rosé from near Canterbury in Kent. It’s made from Pinot Noir and is suitably crisp and refreshing as you’d expect, but with a fruity silkiness and subtle floral aroma that’s really welcoming. And it comes in at just 12% ABV.

While the quality of the wine certainly speaks for itself the bottle is also arrestingly attractive. In fact the label design won ‘Best Individual Product’ at the 2020 Harpers Design Awards. So It really looks the part on the shelf as well.

Heppington Vineyard is a relative newcomer to the scene, even by English standards. Their vineyard was only planted in 2016 but despite only having a few vintages behind them they’re quietly carving out a solid reputation for themselves with a range of wines that aren’t extravagantly expensive. The couple behind it all are a husband and wife team, Henry and Gill Blaxland. Henry is actually a QC of long standing and while he still practises at the Bar possibly has an eye on this as a retirement project. If so he’s going about it the right way.

If you haven’t tried English wine yet this is one to break the ice with.

In a nutshell: A light and fruity, pale and elegant English rosé from East Kent.

The lowdown: The south-facing slopes that overlook Canterbury Cathedral are the perfect location for the vines that produce the grapes for this wine. The Lower Heppington Estate planted their vineyards, on land that previously grew blackcurrants, as recently as 2016 and the first few vintages have only just started to appear. The terrain here is ideal for producing Pinot Noir grapes designed to make light and fruity rosés and they've certainly taken full advantage of this. Its red apple and cranberry crispness is nicely balanced with a touch of smooth, silkiness in the mouth which keeps it agreeably refreshing without getting spikily sharp. There's also an appealing floral aroma which only adds to its attractiveness along with the alluringly light colour. For an English rosé of this quality it's excellent value.

When to drink: Magnificently English it's best enjoyed chilled with a picnic or to accompany a light lunch.

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