Originally imported from Germany, the Bacchus grape has found itself very much at home as an ex-pat on English soil, especially in Sussex, Kent and Surrey. It was created as a hybrid of three of Germany’s most popolar white grapes — Silvaner, Riesling and Müller-Thurgau, although its acidic, citrussy style often leads to comparisons with cool-climate Sauv Blanc.
But, given the quality and popularity of English fizz, you don’t find much sparkling Bacchus around (the only other one I can think of right now is from Chapel Down), with English winemakers often happy to fall into the Champagne slipstream and mix Chardonnay with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.
So I was happy to try this limited edition sparkling, single varietal Bacchus from Surrey producer, Denbies — especially as it’s in a style I really enjoy.
Made using traditional methods, from grapes grown during the “exceptional” 2016 harvest, it’s intensely refreshing, clean and fruit-forward, with flavours of citrus, pear, peach and honey.
It’s spent 18 months resting on the lees (dead yeast cells) in order to add some depth and complexity. This might sound a lot, but it’s not much more than the minimum requirement for standard Champagne, and a lot less than vintage Champagnes. Consequently, it lacks much of the intensely dry, yeasty flavours that are so characteristic of Champagne.
This is no bad thing though. I reckon UK producers should be encouraged to conjure up novel and pioneering styles, rather than sticking to traditional, established templates. Another ace example of this daring approach from Denbies was their unusual Ranmore Hill (a still blend of the English faves Pinot Gris, Bacchus and Chardonnay), which I loved and awarded 5 stars to back in June.
In summary: if you favour a fizz that’s light, fresh, fruity and sharp, rather than steely, super dry and biscuity (and I must admit, I do), this’ll be right up your street. It’ll be superb with seafood, and is very good value too, hence…
4.5 NINJA STARS
Denbies Classic Collection Sparkling Bacchus RRP: £16.95 | Available from Denbies Wine & Gift Shop, www.denbies.co.uk