Welsh Wine Week 4th-13th June 2021
The annual Welsh Wine Week in early June gets overshadowed by English Wine Week a few weeks later. But the 27 vineyards in Wales – a rise from 13 in 2011 – shouldn’t be dismissed.
There are vineyards on the north-west coastal island of Anglesey and near the northern seaside town of Llandudno, to Vyrnwy Vineyard close to the English border at Oswestry and two vineyards near Cowbridge right down in the south. Many of these have been planted since 2010 but Croffta Vineyards has a history going back over 40 years – Seyval Blanc grapes are used to make sparkling wine which is vinified for them at the larger Three Choirs Vineyard across the border in English Gloucestershire.
And that’s not uncommon. Welsh vineyards, and English ones too, are generally too small to invest in winemaking equipment and a winery (vineyard sizes are measured in parts of an acre or several) and so send their grapes to be made in the larger established wineries such as Three Choirs (established in 1973 with a winery added in 1990, now 75 acres in size and expanded in 2014 after buying up Hampshire Wickham Vineyard). A few do have their own wineries and bottling plants, like Cwm Deri in Pembrokeshire with a bottling capacity of 30,000 a year.
Both still and sparkling wine is being made with an emphasis on the still table wines as much as the sparkling. Which makes it different to English vineyards where sparkling wine rules the day with 4 million bottles being produced annually. So in Wales it’s more Rondo reds, Solaris whites, Pinot Noir rosés, and even a fashionable orange wine made from Albarino grapes.
But what do they taste like? Expect sharp apple and lemon flavours from the Welsh whites, light fruity flavours in the rosés, light and fruity reds and complex and aromatic sparkling wines that have had the benefit of lees ageing.
To buy Welsh wines either purchase direct from each vineyard’s website, or buy selections at Vin Van Caerdydd and Discover Delicious. Some independents and supermarkets stock a small selection (Tanners and Waitrose stock Glyndwr wines, Dylanwad wine merchant stocks a range).
Ancre Hill Orange Wine 2019
£24.99 Grape Britannia
A fashionable orange wine made from Albarino grapes that have been left to macerate in the fermenting juice to extract some of their colour. At only 9.5% alcohol it is a light and herby tasting quaff.
Glyndwr Dry White 2019
£12.49 Waitrose, £14.50 Tanners, or direct from vineyard £12.50
Made with the grape varieties Reichensteiner and Seyval Blanc, this Welsh white tastes of gooseberry and peach. A low alcohol content too, at just 11%, keeps this wine light enough for lunch.
Glyndwr Red 2018/9
£13.99 Waitrose (2018 vintage), or direct from vineyard £16 (2019 vintage)
Made with the increasingly popular red grape variety Rondo, this red tastes of cherries with a black pepper finish. Bit like a Chianti.
Glyndwr Sparkling Rosé Brut
£20.99 Waitrose, or direct from vineyard £22
Made in the same way as champagne but using grape varieties more suitable to the Welsh climate, this bubbly pink tastes of strawberries and digestives.
Llaewlith Sparkling White 2014
£32.99 Vin Van Caerdydd
The choice of the Orion grape variety is unusual for any British vineyard. Grown more in Germany, this white hybrid garpe produces grassy, herbal wines when used in the UK. This sparkling won Silver at the Welsh Vineyards Association Wine of the Year.
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