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The wines of New wave wines/Curious Grape, England

New Wave Wines, Tenterden Vineyard, Small Hythe, Tenterden, Kent TN30 7NG
Tel: 01580 763 033 Fax: 01580 765333
E-mail: sales@newwavewines.com Website: www.newwavewines.com

England’s finest? From this tasting, it seems to be the case. With wine, size matters: it’s usually a bad thing as far as quality is concerned. However, in the UK, the largest producer happens to be one of the best. New Wave Wines was formed in 2000 from the merger between Lamberhurst, Tenterden and Carr Taylor vineyards, and they’ve since pushed the UK wine industry forwards.

The key to their success has been making good quality wines at affordable price points. It’s all very well making good wine, but unless it’s priced right no major outlet will list it, and therefore no one will buy it. Curious Grape have priced their wines so that they are stocked in supermarkets and high street shops, by means of their economy of scale.

They own some of their own vineyards, but the majority of their grapes are brought from up to 23 growers, though they have 2–3 major suppliers. Grapes come from Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

According to Owen Elias, who poured these wines, they pay more for better grapes, depending on the variety, the sugar levels, the acidity and the level of rot. Lots of grapes are used, but Elias’ favourites include Bacchus, Huxelrebe, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Recent vintages have given the UK wine industry a boost. 2002 was a very successful vintage, with high sugars, high acidity and yields down. 2003 is the warmest in recorded history, and the suggestion is that this will be a classic vintage, although I’ve yet to try any of the wines.

So the key question: are these wines very good for English wines, or are they very good full stop? I suspect if you tasted them blind (and I once came across one in a blind tasting - the 2000 Pinot Blanc - marking it down as a decent Loire white), you’d find them quite convincing. They are of at least solid commercial quality and priced just right. But I wouldn’t say that any blew me away. Maybe next year?

Curious Grape Huxelrebe 2002
Lovely floral, ripe nose: sweet and not too grassy. The palate shows good acidity coupled with lovely rich fruit. Nice balance. Very good+ 86/100 (£6.99)

Curious Grape Seyval Blanc 2002
Slightly neutral grassy nose. The palate is vivid and juicy with lots of crisp fruit and good concentration. Acid provides balance. Very good 84/100 (£6.99)

Curious Grape Bacchus 2002
Very taut crisp nose is tight and herby. Really lovely herby, grassy palate is savoury with good acidity. Quite firm. Very good+ 88/100 (£6.49)

Curious Grape Schönburger 2001
13 g residual sugar. Gently herby nose. Lovely balance on the palate with the acid and residual sugar in nice tension, giving weight. Nice herbiness. Very good+ 87/100 (£5.99)

Curious Grape Ortega 2001
Lightly oaked. Nice savoury nose with gentle nuttiness from the oak. Savoury, dry palate with some spiciness. Very good+ 85/100 (£6.99)

Curious Grape Bacchus Reserve 2001
Nice savoury spicy nose with some herby fruit. Lovely weight and balance on the palate, which is deliciously rounded with a nice herbal, grassy edge. Ripe and full. Very good+ 88/100 (£7.99)

Curious Grape English Rosé 2002
Nice pinkish sort of colour. Gently herbal nose. Very juicy, high-acid palate with soft sweet strawberry fruit. Very good 82/100 (£5.99)

Chapel Down NV Brut
A blend of Rivaner, Reichensteiner and Pinot Noir. Fresh, crisp clean and refreshing. Very good 83/100 (£7.99)

Chapel Down Pinot Reserve 1999 
Fizz made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Nice fresh herby nose. Lovely crisp taut palate with a hint of yeasty, biscuitty character. Very good+ 87/100  (£14.99)

Chapel Down Pinot Reserve Brut 2000
Toasty biscuitty edge to the nose. Nice herby palate. Taut with good acidity. Very nice. Very good+ 86/100 (£14.99)

Curious Grape Pinot Noir 2000
Pale red colour. Nice varietally true nose is herby with some spicy medicinal notes and berry fruits. Midweight ripe, savoury palate is quite elegant. A little simple but nice. Very good 84/100 (£12.99)

Curious Grape Epoch 1 2002
This red wine is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, 20% Rondo and 20% Dornfelder. Deep purple colour. Sweet berry and blackfruits nose with a warm, spicy meaty edge. Nice midweight palate shows soft fruit character. Quite rich and appealing. Very good+ 86/100 (£8.99)

Curious Grape Rondo Reserve 2000
Very deep purple colour. Soft, ripe chocolatey black fruits on the nose. Savoury, minerally palate with soft ripe fruits. Tasty. Very good+ 87/100

Curious Grape Nectar 2002
Sweet ripe grapey nose. The palate is fresh and grapey with some herby character. Nice weight and texture. Medium sweet. 30–35 g residual sugar. Very good 84/100 (£5.99 50 cl)  

see also: UKVA award winning wines, 2003; English wines:raising the standard; tasting notes of English wines

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