Darcy Lambton

22 June 2024

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England’s love affair with local wine and fizz steps up a level

When it comes to turnaround success stories in the food and drink sector, few can match that of English wine. What was once looked upon as a poor cousin to French produce, English wine making has become a much loved and highly valued business. In short, we’re glugging more of it, exporting more of it and talking more about it.

So while English Wine Week (running between 15th – 23rd June) is a wonderful excuse to sample some tipples that are right on our doorstep, the underlying fact is that demand for English wines is growing dramatically year after year. We take a look at how English wines became so well established, and give our suggestions for delectable dining and drinking.

 

A short history lesson

Going back to 1940s and 1950s, English wines attracted a little bit of a raised eyebrow. This post-war period saw many producers plant varieties influenced by sweet German wines, rather than the drier varieties which are now enjoying such popularity. From the late 1980s to early 90s, producers began to pivot towards French grape varieties. It’s at this point that the embryonic English sparkling wine expertise started to establish itself. The thing is, vines take time to grow, and so the initial turnaround in reputation was naturally slow coming. Once momentum was gathered, though, there was no stopping it!

 

English wine now

Now we find ourselves at a point where the UK boasts almost 900 vineyards. Viticulture (the cultivation and harvesting of grapes) is today Britain’s fastest growing agricultural sector. It employs around 2,300 people full time and is expecting to continue to grow still further. Not only is the industry experiencing unprecedented growth, but it’s come with a significant upsurge in reputation, too. English sparkling wines especially have garnered strong admiration, with regular commendations from the IWSC over the last 20 years. English wines, both still and sparkling, are highly valued at home and popular overseas. Scandinavian countries especially are huge fans of English wine, with Norway importing around half of all English wine exports.

 

The power of local

Of course, vineyards and wine producers are only one side of the coin. Suppliers and consumers have just as much to do with this story. And that means both us at Lambton & Jackson and you reading this! We love working with our good friends at New Hall Wine Estate, making delectable gift pairings so that you can enjoy local wine and food together. To find out more about New Hall, and explore how their flavours work with several of our products, this programme is wonderfully informative.

 

How do we enjoy it?

It’s great that the English wine trade is doing such fantastic business. But most importantly, we want to talk about drinking the stuff! With such well received, refined flavours, what you consume with your wine really matters. We’ve got some enticing pairings and top picks for which English wines are ideal to elevate our locally produced smoked foods.

 

Smoked Salmon

The thing to remember with artisan smoked salmon is that there is a huge range of flavours infused into the fish. For example, our Maldon Cure offers a different flavour to our Juniper Smoked salmon. Then there’s hot smoked options and beetroot cured salmon, too! Depending on whether the smoked infusions are light or more punchy, the food pairs better with different wines. So to enjoy the perfect taste combination, choose complementary flavours.

 

Maldon Cure

This salmon is smoked over oak and beech, so it has deep, complex flavours that need to find a match in your choice of English wine. Step forward New Hall Wine’s Bacchus. With its fruity aromas, this is a crisp and fresh wine that ideally complements the smokiness of our classic artisanal smoked salmon. We’ve even matched the two in a convenient hamper so you can easily enjoy this particular combination.

 

Juniper Smoked

A more subtle flavour can be found with our juniper smoked salmon. Smoked with a classic Nordic blend of beech, alder and juniper, this fish has a smooth buttery texture and hints of sweetness in the finish. So we’d suggest enjoying it with New Hall’s Signature white. Clean and bright on the palate, this wine is perfect to work alongside a more gentle smokiness.

 

Smoked Cheese

A classic part of any cheese board, smoked cheese varieties have a striking depth of flavour. While some people can think of cheeses as an addition to a meal, with the flavours at play in our smoked cheddar and smoked Shropshire blue, they can really take centre stage. We’re all used to enjoying wine with our cheese, and these pairing suggestions work well across the board.

 

Cheddar

Our smoked cheddar abounds in flavour. With something this punchy, it’s worth choosing a robust English wine. Lots of us enjoy a red with our cheese course, so why not go for a pinot noir. In this wine from New Hall, the flavours are utterly in line with the English countryside and seasonality.

 

Shropshire 

The classic flavour combination to end a meal, pair a smoked Shropshire blue with an excellent dessert wine. The Purali Gold from New Hall is rich and luscious to sit alongside the Shropshire’s creamy depth. We love this combination so much that we’ve matched it together so you can enjoy it with ease.

 

A wine for all seasons

English wine is intrinsically celebratory. The flavours that local wines take on are reflective of the seasons and nature around us. This makes English wine the ideal choice for a special occasion all year round. Here we go through our top tips for that special event food and wine pairing.

 

Spring wedding

Clearly, a sparkling white is in order to toast the happy couple! Why not pair New Hall’s Classic Cuvée Brut with canapes? We can recommend our smoked salmon pate for a light and refreshing flavour combination.

 

Summer garden party

From gatherings to picnics, we all enjoy a spread that sings the praises of seasonal produce. The hints of smoky sweetness in our beetroot cure smoked salmon sit snugly alongside the floral tones of the Barons Lane Rose.

 

Autumn Harvest

Come harvest time celebrations, there’s nothing to warm the heart better than the deep flavours of kiln roasted smoked salmon. Pair it with a wine that embraces the harvest in all its glory, the Bacchus.

 

Festive Cheer

Christmas simply wouldn’t be complete without a cheese board and a full bodied red. Keeping things local, try a pinot noir from Crouch Ridge. As two key elements of luxury dining, wine and smoked salmon are a classic pairing. And English wine week is the perfect nudge to remember that we can enjoy the best products by keeping things local!