Bolney Estate Dark Harvest Review: With a name like a Black Sabbath album and a shade darker than blood, this meaty English red wine from Waitrose might polarise opinion, but it hit the right notes for me.
Good old Waitrose: they’ve been championing English wines for some time now — in particular Bolney Estate, who’ve garnered a rep as one of the country’s premier producers. I first tried the Sussex vineyard’s wares on a review of Brighton restaurant Isaac At (read about that here) and paid their vineyard a visit a couple of months later. They were kind enough to show me around (click here for that one).
Up till now, though, I hadn’t tried any of their reds, and I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blend of dornfelder and rondo grapes. The former is the second most widely grown red-wine grape in Germany, apparently. Still… a new one on me.
It wasn’t till I flicked through a few reviews that I realised this is a wine that polarises opinion. “Really odd,” and “virtually undrinkable,” are two of the less charitable comments on the Waitrose site. I have to disagree.
Yeah, it has an unusual flavour palette, but I was surprised by its boldness and complexity. At 12.5% volume, it’s billed as medium bodied — but it doesn’t look, taste, or smell medium bodied to me. It’s dark as a witch’s cat. And, as the name promises, it gives a hearty, meaty smack round the chops reminiscent of a bolognese that’s been simmering on the stove all afternoon. A rich, viscous passata with a touch of smoke.
Maybe I was in sensory overload, but I was also getting black cherry, blueberry, redcurrant, wood, leather and green pepper. The firm tannins mean it’ll pair brilliantly with red meat. And I’ll stick my neck out and say that it’ll make a good alternative to a cabernet sauvignon on a rainy October Sunday. English claret, if you like.
Waitrose also do the Bolney Estate pinot noir, which is a fiver more expensive at £16. That one’s been added to the rapidly expanding “to drink” list.
Bolney Estate Dark Harvest, 2015. £11 at Waitrose. 12.5% volume.
4 NINJA STARS