Seven of the best – note that all of the wines are available directly from the vineyards – so make the time to go and visit them!
2009 Ridgeview, Bloomsbury, Cuvée Merret, Sussex (£21.84 Waitrose; £25.00, Great Western Wine tel. 01225 322810, Fortnum & Mason tel. 0845 300 1707, Quaff Wine Merchants tel. 01273 820 320, Stony Wine Emporium tel. 01908 267373). One of the first ‘cuvées’ devised by Ridgeview, this is the wine that as put them on the world stage and it is thoroughly elegant, classy and sophisticated.
NV Meonhill, Petersfield, Hampshire (£24.75 – £26.99, The Fareham Wine Cellar tel.01329 822733, www.winepantry.co.uk). This wine is actually made by a Champagne producer! Imogen and Didier Pierson planted a four hectare vineyard seven years ago and this wine is made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. It is jolly smart as you would expect with a very fine palate.
NV South Ridge, Blanc de Noirs, Sussex (£19.99 Laithwaites Wine tel.0845 194 7720). This robust style, made from red grapes, is more foody and savoury than many of the other wines in this piece, so don’t think twice about uncorking it during your main course – roast chicken would be a triumphant combination.
NV Chapel Down, Vintage Reserve Brut, Tenterden, Kent (£18.99, Waitrose, Majestic, Morrisons, Booths Supermarkets). One of the stalwart English sparkling wine producers, I have been following Chapel Down for nearly two decades. This pioneering estate is one of the finest in the land and this great value wine has been fine tuned over the years into a true beauty.
2009 Marksman English Sparkling Brut Blanc de Blancs, Sussex (£24.00, reduced to £19.00 between 8th May and 5th June, Marks & Spencer). Made from 100% Chardonnay, with a touch of French oak used to give it a creamy texture this is spectacular value and a wine which is so ethereal and impressive it will blow you away.
2011 Chapel Down, English Rose, Tenterden, Kent (£9.99, www.chapeldown.com, Majestic, Waitrose). Ripe pinot noir grapes are the magic ingredient in this vibrant, cherry red-scented rosé. With a mélange of macerated red fruit nuances, like a red-fruit-only summer pudding, this is a joyous wine with a lick of fruitiness on the finish.
2011 Camel Valley, Bacchus Dry, Bodmin (£12.95, reduced to £11.66 for a case, www.camelvalley.com). Conscious of sounding like a stuck record, this really is, for the umpteenth year in a row, my favourite dry white English wine. It is world class, vital, refreshing and eminently classy. I am particularly proud to be English with this wine in my glass.