Crab Pie and an English Wine Week Preview.
On a perfect English Easter weekend what could be better than having a tasting of some of the new crop of English wines for the summer. Whilst we languish in the dog days of Brexit there is an energy and excitement about English wine that would have been unthinkable a few years ago with a staggering rise in the number of new vineyards and an exciting range of high-quality new wines coming into the market. At Simpsons Wine Estate the first vines were planted in 2014 in the Elham Valley – a beautiful area of the North Downs of Kent well suited to winemaking. The two vineyards sit in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), with a lime-rich chalk soil perfect for the cultivation of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. With the winery opened in 2016 by Oz Clarke, this is a great time to be tasting their wines. Simpsons Derringstone Pinot Meunier 12.5% 2018 (£19) is a wonderful expression of the grape full of poached winter fruit flavours but with a well-balanced with acidity and a creamy mouthfeel. You can really notice the champagne aroma of the Pinot Meunier on the nose – it’s a wine that would be great with a Dover sole or turbot.Both of the Simpsons wines came in a beautifully elegant bottle with an eco-friendly glass stopper that makes it for reusing as a water bottle. Simpsons Railway Hill Rosé 12.5%. 2018 (£19) has a lovely peach colour and grapefruit, lime and lychee notes and is easily on a par with comparably priced Côtes de Provence wines. I would drink it as an aperitif or with mildly-spiced foods.
Denbies Wine Estate sits in 265 acres of vineyards in the heart of the Surrey Hills around their romantic English Vineyard Wedding venue. The winery was founded in 1986 overlooking Box Hill with the terroir being built on Surrey chalk. Denbies wine now competes on an international level, including multiple gold awards for sparkling wine production, the first-ever gold for an English rose wine and most recently an international gold for Denbies Noble Harvest Dessert wine. We were tasting a Bacchus white, the classic floral German grape that crosses Silvaner x Riesling with a Müller-Thurgau, and the aforementioned sweet wine, the Denbies Noble Harvest 2016. With a cork stopper, the Denbies Bacchus 12% 2017 (£14.95) had a light straw colour with delicious blackcurrant, lemon and elderflower notes. It would make a good pairing with asparagus at this time of year and is a great summer glugger. One of the real stars of our show was the Denbies Noble Harvest 2016(£24.95) made from hand-picked Ortega grapes. Wonderfully smooth and with honey and apricots notes Denbies advise a treacle tart to accompany the wine. How English! Our final two wines are both sparklers from Jenkyn Place. Property man Simon Bladon bought the Hampshire estate in 1997 and started planting vines in 2004. The business is now managed by Simon’s daughter Camilla with the vines being planted in the south-facing old hop fields next to his house. While I hadn’t come across these wines before, others from the London-Unattached team have visited. The grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir, grown in ‘Greensand for elegance, Marlstone and chalk for complexity and depth’. First up was the Jenkyn Place 2013 Classic Cuvée Brut (£29.50). It has a wonderful mousse with flavours of toast and green apples and a hint of peach in the middle. The Jenkyn Place 2014 Rosé Brut 12%. (£35) is made from 100% Pinot Noir. Perfect with canapés it has a fine mousse hint of with a hint of strawberry and lemon. It was fabulous to have two English sparkling wines that were new to me and of such great quality. A great find just ahead of English Wine Week. To go with the Jenkyn Place 2013 Classic Cuvée Brut why not try this fabulous Crab Pie recipe created by Louis York as a starter.
Crab pie with samphire and apple chutney with a hot water crust pastry
- 150 g pasteurised crab meat
- 2 egg yolks
- 250 ml vegetable oil
- 100 ml olive oil
- lemon juice
- 350 g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 100 g vegetable fat
- 175 ml water
- 350 g samphire
- 450 g pasteurised crab meat
- 150 g spiced apple chutney
- 10 pie tins
- parsley to serve
- Blend the egg yolks with an immersion blender until slightly thickened. Start slowly streaming the mix of oils, making sure not to overwhelm the yolks. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Mix with a quarter of the crab and let set in the fridge.
- Steam the samphire until tender and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180 Fan/ Gas Mark 6.
- Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
- Put the vegetable fat and water together in a small saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, pour into the flour mixture and mix together quickly to form a soft dough.
- As soon as you can handle the dough cut off one quarter and leave to one side.
- Divide the remaining mixture into ten pieces and roll each into a ball.
- Roll out the balls on a floured surface, and push them into the corners of the tins, ensuring and even layer pastry, trim the edges.
- Fill each tin first with small handful of the steamed samphire and then 3 tablespoons of the crab, without mayonnaise, with a thin layer of the chutney above that.
- Moisten the top of the pastry with milk and press the lids into place.
- Glaze with a beaten egg and bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
- Carefully remove your pies from the tins, let them cool on a wire rack and serve with a quenelle of Crab mayonnaise and parsley.
It makes a delicious starter – a light flaky pastry with layers of crab meat and samphire spears given a hint of sweetness by the apple chutney.
English Wine Week runs from May 25th to June 2 2019. According to English Wine Producers – the organisers of English Wine Week there are now 577 vineyards across the UK with the majority in the south-east (152) and south-west (136). So why not get involved this year – there’s plenty to choose from. With the prospect of a great English summer ahead and English Wine Week, it’s a great moment to have a look at these websites and stock up on some great drinking English wines. The English are coming!
Disclosure: We were provided with samples of wine for the purpose of this review. All content is editorially given.