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England’s Chapel Down winery pushes boundaries

Chapel Down has this month released England’s first orange wine.  The Chapel Down Orange Bacchus 2014 is the fifth single varietal Bacchus that Chapel Down produce and it is due to this extended knowledge and understanding of the grape variety that Chapel Down winemaker, Josh Donaghay-Spire, began skin contact trials with Bacchus during the 2014 harvest.

This unashamedly different and unique wine is sourced from the ripest Bacchus from the excellent 2014 vintage.  The fruit was de-stemmed and left to wild ferment in contact with the skins in the same way that a red wine is made. This extracts additional aroma and flavour compounds alongside tannins, which adds complexity. The fermentation was completed in fifth fill French oak barrels for additional weight and depth on the palate as well as softening some of the tannins.  The resulting wine offers intense aromas of smoky stewed apple together with hints of citrus rind and an
almond-like bitterness on the palate leading to a rich complex finish.

Josh states: “We are keen to push the boundaries and experiment with winemaking techniques in order to produce the best quality and innovative wines.  With England increasingly becoming known for Bacchus as a white wine varietal, I was eager to explore the potential of this versatile variety.  Often Bacchus is compared to Sauvignon Blanc in style, however our Orange Bacchus has added weight and depth of flavour with smoky notes, a rich palate and a really interesting tannic edge which makes it ideal for pairing with weightier foods, especially smoked meat or oily fish.

 “England is gaining a deserved reputation for world-class sparkling wines but I hope with our Orange Bacchus it demonstrates the quality of English still wines and winemaking excellence that we offer as a growing industry.”

The Chapel Down Orange Bacchus 2014 (12% ABV) doesn’t have the brown hue often found in this style of wine which derives from oxidation resulting from no or very low sulphite addition.  This is a deliberate move by Chapel Down to retain the wine’s aromatic qualities whilst also delivering on taste.

This limited release wine will be focused at the premium on-trade and independent off trade with a RRP of £20.00.

17 November 2015 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor