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A royal salute to Britain’s finest
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A royal salute to Britain’s finest

When considering British stereotypes, writes Tiffany Vernon, we are often described as being sophisticated, polite and self-disciplined.

When we aren’t queuing or talking about the weather you can find us enjoying a good cuppa, food or an alcoholic drink. We are suckers for tradition, have a great sense of humour and all personally know the royal family…

In reality, whilst we may not regularly nip to Buckingham Palace for cream tea and a catch-up, I am sure many of us will be celebrating the forthcoming coronation ‒ let’s face it, if an event involves food and drink with the opportunity to chat about rainclouds as we set up for a street party, we are there! With this in mind, raising a glass to this historical event with products that match our personality seems only fitting.

We have all undoubtedly sampled an English Sparkling Wine by now and heard how it is similar to Champagne – the chalky soils in southern England are often found to be a continuation of those within northern France and are planted with the same trio of grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Interestingly, the majority of the best vineyards across Britain planted their vines back in the 80s – after realising great potential early on upon assessing local terroirs (the combination of factors such as soil and climate – yes we are back on the weather!), in classic British style, we have been patiently waiting for the vines to grow and our winemakers to perfect their craft before showing these wines to the world decades later.

A perfect example of such an enterprise is Nyetimber – this stunning Sussex estate dates back many years (it’s even mentioned in the Doomsday Book!) and today produces what is regarded as the pinnacle of English Sparkling wine. As much as I love the whole Nyetimber range, I think you can’t beat their flagship Nyetimber Classic Cuvee which is brimming with baked apple flavours encased in almond pastry, complemented by a touch of spice and dashes of honey. This easily reflects the sophisticated character of a typically British character.

Of course, we don’t just make sparkling wine, so look out for estates such as Sandridge Barton in the Dart Valley of Devon. Originally set up by Maurice and Ruth Ash in the 1960s, they took their prized Jersey cows with them on the train from Essex with a view to making French-style soft cheese. Twenty years later, they planted vines across 32 acres so people could enjoy a thirst-quenching accompaniment to their famous cheese (we do love our food and wine after all!). My go-to from this estate is always Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve as it bursts with zesty orchard fruit, lemon thyme and elderflower nuanced over grassy tones. Akin to a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, it is delicious with every sip.

Stepping away from the more traditional wines of our nation, Ancre Hill estate in Monmouthshire, Wales, has been producing interesting and experimental small-batch wines since 2014. Their focus is on being as natural as possible with the use of minimum sulphur and wild yeast whilst farming according to biodynamic practices. I am always impressed with their ability to be at the forefront of the winemaking scene, producing orange wines and pet nats ahead of the curve! Celebrate the coronation with their Ancre Hill Chardonnay which boasts great precision of lemony grapefruit flavours and subtle toasty notes – I would say this denotes our composed and restrained British spirit with a nod to being innovative.

Speaking of spirits, gins are another fabulous craft we can be proud of and enjoy sipping – certainly my drink of choice when wine doesn’t fit the bill. Tanners Hereford Finest Dry Gin is the perfect example of tradition – after Tanners took over the Pullings distillery in Hereford during the 1970s (the building that now homes Tanners Hereford branch), an old gin recipe was discovered within the Pullings archives. In 1983 Tanners revived this recipe which has been followed ever since to create Tanners’ own-label gin. Wonderfully crisp with well-defined botanicals and a citrus edge, this makes the perfect refreshing.

Back in Wales, there is also an abundance of delicious gins. The classic British food pairing of rhubarb and ginger is brought to life in Aber Falls Rhubarb Ginger Welsh named after the dramatic waterfall within Snowdonia and inspired by the homely flavours of a rhubarb and ginger crumble. This is subtly spicy and reveals distinctively tart rhubarb notes, lending itself to part of a rhubarb sour – grab your lemon juice and egg white and get shaking!

Finally, a gin hailing from Scotland, The Botanist Islay Dry Gin is made at the Bruichladdich distillery on the isle of Islay in the Hebrides, where the land is extremely fertile and thus offers an array of botanicals to create a unique gin flavour. This is rich with sweet and earthy notes layered with the distinctive smoky character that is famed on this island. My take for this gin would be to whip up a smoked dirty martini – it will pack a punch and whilst it is perhaps not a daytime drink, my goodness it will be delicious whilst you watch fireworks on the eve of the coronation! The Botanist gin comes in a distinctive Latin-embossed bottle and if you look a little closer at the words, you will see why I suggest this product reflects British humour perfectly...

So, whether you consider yourself to be a stereotype of a British persona, or you believe British products reflect our nation well, the diversity of drinks available at our fingertips is undeniable and well worth exploring ‒ even if it is simply for a good old-fashioned knees up.



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