Still Red Wines
While red wine is still only produced in small quantities – accounting for around 15% of all still wines produced in Britain – it has been showing perhaps some of the greatest promise, as the desire for lighter styles of red with less alcohol becomes more popular. Our climate lends itself well to cooler, fruitier reds that match many dishes throughout the year. Even in warmer years, there is an elegance and style in the wines produced, resulting in reds that are lighter in tannins and more fruit driven.
The variety that challenges winemakers the world over, in riper years red Pinot Noirs are capable of achieving real elegance, ripeness, and poise in the UK. Many of the Classic Method sparkling wine producers plant clones from both Champagne and Burgundy to provide a good mix of fruit qualities from this variety, and this can create stylish still wines. With some oak ageing, they gain elegance, complexity and spice, with light tannins and lasting potential. A style which combines the acidity and savoury character of a young Burgundy with the vibrancy of fruit of a New Zealand Pinot Noir. Often these wines are only available direct from the producers themselves as so little is produced – but they are worth seeking out.
Pinot Noir Précoce or Frühburgunder
An early-ripening variety that is a form or mutation of Pinot Noir that displays many of the characteristics of the noble grape. The grape tends to have slightly less acidity and tannins, which serves as an advantage in the cooler climates of England and Wales, coupled with the benefit that it ripens and can be harvested earlier.
A red wine variety from Germany, grown in England and Wales for many years. Dornfelder, being darker skinned, has allowed the production of more internationally styled reds, giving good colour, acidity and the ability to benefit from barrel-ageing and the associated oak flavours. Some single-varietal Dornfelders are available, but it is often blended.
Produces another wine of good colour and style, and blends well with other varieties (such as Dornfelder and Pinot Noir). Like Dornfelder, it responds well to oak ageing.
Producers of red wines that are blends of several varieties often opt not to name the variety, but focus on a brand and wine name on the front label. While some retailers stock red wines, they are generally only available direct from the producer.