This white wine blend, from Surrey producer Denbies, really brightened up a rainy June Sunday evening for me, arriving to tantalise my tastebuds like, erm… Cliff Richard entertaining the crowd at Wimbledon. Actually, bad analogy. It wasn’t like that at all.
Denbies (near Dorking) boasts the largest vineyard in England. And, with around 300,000 visitors a year, it’s also a popular tourist attraction. Its relatively warm microclimate, chalky, flinty soil and south facing slopes make the area ideal for grape cultivation. The majority of their wine is sold on-site. But is it any good? On the evidence of this Ranmore Hill cuvée, the answer is an obnoxiously deafening: yeeesss!
A blend of Pinot Gris, Bacchus and Chardonnay, the Ranmore Hill shoots straight out of the blocks with vibrant, aromatic notes of peach, lychee, lime and apricot. Yep, its wonderful complexity on the nose really took me by surprise, and I kept having to go in for another sniff, as ever more interesting smells emerged.
On the palate, it’s dry and fresh with (like all English whites) high acidiy, but also a deft touch of salinity and a slight gooseberry finish. It’s apparently been aged in new oak, but this certainly doesn’t overshadow the fruit, which is how it should be.
This really is elegant winemaking, and on this form I’m surprised this wine hasn’t won more awards. It’s a real pleasure to discover something different and characterful, which steers away from the conformity found in most supermarket wines.
English producers are really excelling at Pinot Gris (and Pinot-based blends) these days. Perhaps this is due to relatively warm recent vintages (although you’d have to ask a winemaker about that).
I paired the Ranmore Hill 2017 with the 1991 Jim Jarmusch film Night on Earth and some leftover tarka dhal. Well, sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. It went pretty well, actually.
5 NINJA STARS
Denbies Ranmore Hill white wine blend, 2017. 12% volume. £14.95. Available online from denbies.co.uk
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