It was 2nd January before I managed to visit my first British vineyard of 2023. In this case it was the excellent Burn Valley in Norfolk. Located in North Creake only 5 miles from the magnificent North Norfolk coast with its masses of wading birds and seals, 12 acres have been planted with vines on the family farm. The addition of their own extensive winery has given owner and winemaker Laura Robinson all the tools she needs to crafty a truly wonderful range of wines covering all styles. This is really quite an achievement given that 53° North is getting to the very limit of grape growing and wine making in Britain.
Burn Valley is truly a family enterprise with the surrounding farm land belonging to the family, her sister Samantha taking a role in the business and her husband Steve running a catering business from the same base. On the day I visited they were clearing from what looked like a superb New Year’s Eve party that had been held in the winery surrounded by the 2022 vintage fermenting and maturing in tanks and barrels.
Burn Valley’s range of wines covers still whites from Bacchus and their much loved Solaris as well as Seyval Blanc and Schönburger, still pink from Regent, still reds made from Pinot Noir, Regent and Rondo plus a sparkling white and rosé. It is always difficult to pick favourites, but one of the real surprises for me was the Chalk Bed Reserve whose Rondo and Regent blend produced a depth and character that belies its northerly creation. This really is an English red well worth seeking out.
The real star for me is the wine that I have chosen to use in my next book ‘British Cheese and Wine Pairing’. The wine is called Solar and is a late harvest Solaris. At only 8% alcohol and 126g/l residual sugar, this is a true delight with a sweetness that is perfectly balanced by just the right amount of acidity to make it luscious and refreshing at the same time. The cheese that I am pairing it with is the tangy Binham Blue made by Catherine Temple only 8 miles away in Wighton.
A North Norfolk pairing to seek out and try.