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English Wines at Sam's Chophouse

Gordo goes back to Blighty for his flavours

Written by . Published on March 22nd 2010.


English Wines at Sam's Chophouse

Sam’s has a good reputation for its wine list, which is these days looked after by arguably the best wine man north of the M25, George Bergier. George can give Gordo a second prize on all matters oenophile; as well as being effortlessly and sincerely a good deal more charming than the Fat One.

With the exception of Denbies Sparkling, all of these wines are showing the shape of English wines. Not only are they enjoyable drinking, but they can easily keep up with the New World and in the case of Alex Carr Taylor’s brut, stand up to the French masters.

Every now and again Gordo is lucky enough to taste some of George’s ideas.

He wasn’t, mind you, too excited when George invited him to taste a basket of English wines. So far, only one sparkling white had impressed him, Nyetimber, a ‘blanc de blancs’ chardonnay grape ‘methode champenoise’ sparkling wine. All but Champagne in name, it is produced on a chalky escarpment in the South Downs, a geological feature that runs under the English Channel and surfaces again in the Champagne region of northern France.

It is a stupendous wine, which Gordo scored above a vintage Moet in a blind tasting. Gordo was gobsmacked to find out that it was an English wine. Global warming may well have some benefits.

On the day in Sam's, George showed a couple of English ‘methode’ wines. Carr Taylors brut followed by Denbies’s 2004 bottle fermented Whitedown cuvee. The Whitedown was the higher price point and had the bigger reputation. But, It was a little short on the palette; the mousse (bubbles) quite tight, acidic; a little bit of a lightweight. Gordo scored it 3/5 for an English wine.

But, the Carr Taylors Brut, which we had tried first, was the star. Gordo’s notes read ‘underipe peach, green apple cut with a steel knife’. This, dear reader, is a find. Carr Taylors is produced near Hastings on the south coast by one of the UK’s foremost wine men, Alex Carr Taylor. It is well worth drinking, it will stand up to any of the non-vintage Champagnes on Sam's lists. If you are having a wedding or other celebration, this feller is the one; you should be able to find it on the internet for under twelve quid. Buy some and leave it under the sink for a year. It will out-perform any Prosecco or Cava. 4/5

There were three others to try from George’s new English section, two whites and a red. All of great interest to anyone wanting to keep in touch with the new generation of UK wine producers.

Flint Valley, from Denbies again, using Reichensteiner, Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay grapes; you don’t find that little ménage a trois very often but it’s a great combination delivering a wine with a New Zealand personality at around £24 on Sam’s list. 3/5

Three Choirs is represented by their Coleridge Hill, a blend of Madeleine Angevine and Phoenix (Nope, Gordo had never heard of them either) grapes, delivering a crisp wine with fruit. 3.5/5

Finally, Bookers Vineyard ‘Dark Harvest’, 2006. Dornfelder and Rondo grapes give this deep, ruby red plenty of fruit with a cheeky touch of personality giving a long-ish finish. George has been brave here; he could have chosen Bookers Pinot Noir, a safer bet with the punters, particularly the Americans. But this little beauty is far more interesting. 3.5/5

With the exception of Denbies Sparkling, all of these wines are showing the shape of English wines. Not only are they enjoyable drinking, but they can easily keep up with the New World and in the case of Alex Carr Taylor’s brut, stand up to the French masters.

One thing all of these vineyards could do with: less cheesy labelling.

Sams Chophouse: Click here

www.carr-taylor.co.uk

www.threechoirs.co.uk

www.denbiesvineyard.co.uk

www.BookersVineyard.co.uk

Follow Gordo on twitter GordoManchester

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