Northants glorious vineyards
English wine is really coming into its own, so it means it’s as good an opportunity as any to learn a little more about vino and celebrate our local wine producers. Yup, you read that right, there are two amazing vineyards right here on our door step in good old Northants.
1/ Priorities please, first let’s raise a glass of English Sparkling Wine to Brit scientist* Christopher Merret, who put the fizz into flat old wine way back in 1662.
2/ The Romans — those suave, sophisticates — loved quaffing a glass or two of Sancerre, feet-up watching some Gladitorial blood-fest. Brutal true, but they did drag us ale-swilling Celts kicking and screaming into the first century by planting vines right up to Lincolnshire.
3/ Drink local my friends, drink local. Us booze-loving Brits slurp around 816 million bottles of wine annually, only 1% of that is English or Welsh wine.
4/ English Sparkling Wine is the new Champagne, it’s official: get this from voice of yoof Vice. Not convinced? Well, sorry but the experts are. Case in point, after a family holiday in Tuscany Bill Hulme, owner of Fleurfields vineyard decided to bring a little bit of ‘la dolce vita’ home with him. Next up the family planted a south facing meadow at the top of the hill over looking Pitsford Reservoir. And so it came to pass that Bill and his wife Flora planted the vines over 5 years ago. Fleurfields produce three wines – a still white wine similar to Pouilly Fume(Fleur Fields), A white bubbly similar to Champagne (Champs D ‘Amour) and a Pink Bubby similar to pink Champagne(Champs D’Amour Rose’). Speaking from experience – they’re all delicious, and you can find Bill at most of Northants fine food festivals this summer.
5/ And talking of champers, did you know that Southern England’s soil — is it pretentious if I say terroir? Just love the semantics of that word — is similar to the Champagne region, especially now we actually have a summer. Get digging, because the same chalk seam runs from Northern France across the Channel to the Home Counties.
6/ Northamptonshire is a hot bed of all things English Wine and you can judge for yourselves. Exhibit A) June’s Towcester food festival (10/11 June) Exhibit B) Oundle food and drink festival (24 June). Another (local) brilliant exponent of the art is the award winning New Lodge vineyard, a boutique set-up on a southwest slope looking across the Nene valley and just outside the picturesque village of Earls Barton. Here you’ll find octogenarian owner Joyce Boulos-Hanna and Manger daughter Gabby, tending to each vine by hand, all year round.
7/ To end, a random yet true fact. London’s East End wasn’t always hipsters, high rises and baggy-trousered Nineties boybands. Yup way back circa 1660, a certain Lady Batten grew grapes on her country estate in erm, Walthamstow producing a “very good” red wine according to Pepys. Puts the term Grand
Crew Cru in a totally different light, and Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring.
*OK history pedants, I know this is decades before The Union but saying ‘English’ twice in a sentence sounds shoddy, a’right.
Last year at Muddy Awards 2016 we had a brilliant time with our friends and hosts New lodge Vineyard and we reckon it’s these diamonds hidden away in our gorgeous county that make Northants such a very interesting place to visit and live in.
Fleurfields vineyard, Hill Farmhouse, Northampton Rd, Brixworth, Northampton NN6 9DQ
New Lodge Vineyard, Northampton Rd, Earls Barton, Northampton NN6 0HF