Wines of England: #2 Winbirri Bacchus

Wine with History: Where the heck is Winbirri?
Writing my new book, “It’s Not About The Wine” during the Covid pandemic has inspired me to continue my wine travels from home and today’s virtual tour of the vineyards of England arrives at Winbirri in Norfolk near the old city of Norwich. Sounds a bit like a New Zealand or Australian name doesn’t it, but Winbirri is slap bang in the heart of old England at Surlingham on the banks of the River Yare. It’s close to lots of English history associated with Norwich, England’s second city in Medieval times, and which was the site of the famous Ketts Rebellion which took place during the short reign of King Edward VI in 1549. The rebellion was a reaction to enclosure laws in which wealthy landowners could put up fences to prevent anyone else using the land as they had for generations to grow food or graze a cow. Two big battles took place at Mousehold Heath and Dussindale which resulted in the rebel leaders being captured and executed!

The Wines of Winbirri
Winbirri has 33 acres of vines which include Rondo, Regent, Dornfelder, Seyval Blanc, and Bacchus, plus the classic champagne combination of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. They produce about 150,000 bottles of wine annually of red, white and sparkling, but it is the still white Bacchus that has brought fame and fortune to Winbirri. In 2017 Winbirri won the Decanter Platinum Award for Best in Show Varietal White Wine in the world with their Bacchus 2015 vintage. Apparently within only 6 hours of winning they had demand for 10 years supply worth of Bacchus from all over the world! I suppose I was lucky recently to grab 6 bottles of their 2019 vintage and couldn’t resist opening one of them within a couple of days with my daughter Sharon, only fair since it was she who alerted me to the availability. So I opened a bottle in my Wine Room reading from the Wines of Gala featuring Salvador Dalí and his chapter The Wines of Joy to which I have just added this stunning Bacchus 2019 as a perfect example:

The Wines of Joy are linked together in a dance, they are wines to be drunk young, generally in the year following their birth. They mostly give us aromas, perfumes linked to the grape’s properties. Beaujolais tops the list offering an array of perfumes from the vegetable world, fruits and flowers too. Peaches, strawberries, apricots cherries, faded roses, iris, violets, all reaching our palate through the retro-nasal passages. Together with taste they compose a symphony of freshness and suppleness so typical of young wines.”

Here’s my own brief note from that first glass of Winbirri Bacchus 2019:
Very pale yellow, floral notes from the beginning, maybe elderflower. Then a definite taste of passion fruit with a long lasting finish. Plenty of acidity but well balanced with fruit. An obvious comparison with Sauvignon Blanc, but a very gentle version, complex. I think this will age well and turn out to be a classy vintage. Probably the best English wine I’ve had. Buy more, if I can find any!”

So, I encourage you to try this wine, you won’t regret it. And, if you don’t have a copy of The Wines of Gala to read as you savour the wine, then content yourself with listening to The Wasps: Overture, written by that great English composer Vaughan Williams, which goes splendidly with this great English wine. There’s more about England’s wine in my new book, “It’s Not About The Wine” recently released on Amazon.

Wine goes a long way with history, or art, or philosophy especially when it’s a classy wine like this Winbirri Bacchus, an award winner and the best English still wine I’ve tasted. Have you had any of our increasingly famous high quality wines? If you have, tell me your favourite.

Categories: England, Wine

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4 replies

  1. Yes, some bottom up data is needed ….. but I think it can lead to a very fast jump to top down identification especially in visual processing. Posting your book today ….🤞


  2. Thanks for sharing a snippet from Dalí’s book! More technical than I imagined. Also, I’m forming a mental image of Bacchus (the grape) through your posts which includes English history, the people who make the wine, the prizes it’s won and some typical characteristics. I might even have a top-down experience when I get the chance to taste it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blimey! I just can’t imagine you as a top down processor of wines😂 But seriously we both know it’s a combination of the two, just like there is always a combination of the subjective and objective, the sensory and the cognitive plus affective, as well as very personalised “dimensions” we choose to describe a wine and the experience of tasting it. I have learned so much from our engagement, it has widened my own thinking and I try really hard to sense the things you usually sense. But …… I’m not very good at it! I’m currently re reading the Questions of Taste book dodging around the chapters as they appeal to me, it seems to make a lot more sense now and it’s giving me ideas for some new posts …. including on the aesthetic issue. 🙏🙏👍🍇🍷

      Liked by 1 person

      • 😅 I can’t imagine being a top down processor either! But if it’s a combination of two, it may be happening more than I’m aware of- so, likewise, the differences in our approaches have given me a lot to think about. I just always come back to a chicken and the egg scenario, would there be any top-down perception processing without the initial raw data? Looking forward to your new posts! 🥂


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