Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Heart Full of Wine - Ancre Hill Estate Welsh wine

Wales may get the occasional scorcher of a summer, but lets face it, while the rain may mean a beautiful lush green landscape, we're not exactly blessed with an overabundance of sunshine. In fact we have a 'maritime' climate, mild and damp with 1360 hours of sunshine every year against England's 1436 and at least 2000 hours in Central France. Given this, you may be surprised as I was, to learn that lists a grand total of 13 vineyards in Wales!

Why am I looking up these riveting facts? Recently I was offered the opportunity to try some Welsh wines by Fine Wines Direct, a Cardiff based wine retailer who carry the Ancre Hill Estate. For those of you not in the know (like me), Ancre Hill is a vineyard in Monmouthshire, growing Chardonnay, Albario and Pinot Noir and the estate is biodynamically farmed.

Ancre Hill Estate Sparkling Wine
 Ancre Hill Estate Sparkling Wine
The first bottle I tried was Ancre Hill Estate Sparkling Wine £21.99 and I have to say this was genuinely a pleasant surprise. Very pale in the glass and with a pleasant citrus note, more of grapefruit lemon, this would make a lovely refereshing Christmas morning lunchtime aperitif, although at this price point, not one to slosh around in some bucks fizz! This bottle comes with a couple of awards (Silver from Decanter and Bronze from International Wine and Spirits), and I could see why.

The second bottle was the Ancre Hill Estate Pinot Noir 2010 £18.99. I wanted to love this wine after the first great bottle, but I'm afraid I couldn't. Pinot Noir is a lighter wine that is less expressive than a bolshy Shiraz, but even so I found the mouthfeel a little thin for my tastes. This wine definitely benefits from decanting to bring out some of the complexity but at the price, this one wasn't for me.

It is encouraging to see Welsh wines moving outside the 'novelty factor' bracket that they occupied a few years ago, and I'd be more than happy to serve the sparkling to guests! The rose has garnered some very positive write-ups so I'll be trying that one next. These were both still pretty young wines so it will be interesting to taste their later bottlings, particularly from the 2009 Pinot which also tasted well.

The wines were provided by Fine Wines Direct and were complimentary.

Fine Wines Direct
242 Penarth Road, Cardiff, CF11 8TU
029 2078 7500

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