Sunday, May 9, 2010

Denbies Chalk Ridge NV

Ah yes...English wine. We all want to like it because we live here. Some of it is pretty good, some of it isn't (not unlike any other country). I think to sum it up though, you have to like tart, high acid white wines. If you don't, then you may struggle with English wine.

We packed up all the kids recently for a day out to Denbies. I was under the impression that it was a good day out for families (i.e. kids). It isn't, and the fact that it isn't severely hampered my enjoyment (not to mention my wifes). They have wine tours, but they are lazy and mechanical - a movie at the start followed by a ride through the cellars accompanied by a tinny, pre-recorded soundtrack which takes all of 5 minutes.

The woman doing the tasting at the end was more entertaining though. We opted for the 'sparkling wine experience', which meant we tasted the 'Whitedowns' (Seyval Blanc - OK), the rose (100% Pinot Noir - not so good), and the 'Greenfields' 2004 (champagne varieties - pretty good). Random Aussie Bloke got a ribbing for being Australian, and for me being Canadian icewine got mentioned, but at least she knew her stuff...

So, the Chalk Ridge. I bought it because it was described as 'aromatic' and 'off dry'. I love that style of wine. However it isn't's dry, which is fine just inaccurate. It's like a grassy, nettley Sauvignon Blanc, but a bit underripe. Not a problem, this is England and not everything ripens the way you'd like it - like I said earlier you have to like the style to appreciate this stuff.

Bottom line - OK but if I was English I would only be buying it out of loyalty. There are better wines for that price.

Chalk Hill NV
Dorking, Surrey, England


  1. I'd have to agree with you there, English still table wines still have a way to go. What a shame Denbies was not more fun and that you didn't get to try their Greenfields '02. I tried it at the recent English Wine Tasting at Chelsea and it was showing excellently. As for me, if I'm drinking English wine, I'll stick to the sparklers.

  2. The trouble with Denbies & their wines is that the operation is run to separate tourists from their money; the wines & vineyard are very much 2ndary. Moreover the wines are made to sell to tourists rather than wine lovers.

    There are some very good still wines out there, & it's a pity the EWP tasting at Stamford Bridge predominantly featured the '08s, which aren't a patch on the '09s. I've been particularly pleasantly surprised by Plumpton College's output this year - the reds (never England's forte) are not only drinkable, but actively enjoyable.