A wine discovery on our doorstep

The exotic can be found on our doorsteps.

Take the subject of wine and the grapes with which it’s made.
Those such as sauvignon blanc, chardonay, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir are commonplace and I’ve seen them growing in vineyards in many distant countries.
But what about the siegerrebe – a grape of which I, no stranger to necking back a glass or two of wine, had never heard, let alone seen growing?
Yet here it was growing under slate grey skies on the rolling land of the Three Choirs vineyard in Gloucestershire a little more than an hour from Birmingham.
After a recent journey to St Emilion, this was my latest fact-finding trip with the guys who will soon be opening the Cheval Blanc wine bar in Moseley.
Such tough work.
But back to the the siegerrebe – a white wine grape created by a German viticulturist in 1929 by crossing the madeleine angevine and gewürztraminer varieties.
It’s widely grown in Germany but is popping up in other countries, too.
Here, at Three Choirs, a siegerrebe was among several bottles that we tasted – all of them displaying the huge progress than English winemaking has made over recent decades.
The siegerrebe – made from the largest plantings of the grape in the UK – in particular was a stunner.
The nose was bursting with exotic fruits yet, on the palate, the was dry with zingy freshness, gentle spice and depth.
The Three Choirs Late Harvest was a stunner, too – lusciously sweet with pleasing acidity.
A red wine, Ravens Hill 2014, made with regent, rondo and pinot precose, had typical English lightness but would be fantastic slightly chilled eaten outdoors with barbecued sausages.
There’s a huge range of wines made at Three Choirs, including fizz.
With 75 acres of vineyards, it produces 250,000 bottles of wine a year from grapes that are hand-picked.
And, using its modern winery, produces another 200,000 bottles for other English producers.
Around 55,000 visitors a year visit the vineyard.
There’s a restaurant, rooms and a shop.
It’s worth checking out their wines either at the vineyard or when you see them stocked at shops, bars and restaurants – they show that we English are making some damn fine stuff these days.
Even with oddities such as the siegerrebe.