I had to include this grape in our list of 52 grapes, it would be wrong not to. First, for a wine lover based in England, it seems right to represent what is fast becoming the iconic grape used in English whites. And then second, who can resist a grape named after the God of wine.
So what is Bacchus like? For me I’ve thought of it as a Sauvignon Blanc on steroids. It is typically very herbaceous, usually with a hedgerow aroma, and on the palate very bright, zingy, with a lime zest quality, racy acidity and peppery spice. For me the best examples have that bit more richness in fruit to balance the acidity.
And if you know me well, I’m not the person shouting from the roof tops about English wines. Yes, there are some great sparkling wines in the Champagne style, but that is because those sort of wines benefit from high acidity and cool climates. For still wines, our climate can still really struggle to achieve the type of wine I personally love to drink. Although if you pick your producers carefully, there are some lovely examples, and the quality is improving every year.
My lovely work mate who buys English wines, has a better view than me. She says that English vineyards are still relatively young, and as they bed in, the flavour of the grapes will improve more and more. Plus, she says that knowledge of how to manage our vineyards in a cool climate, is getting better. This means the growers are becoming more sophisticated on how to use the limited sunlight to ripen their grapes. So watch this space…
This grape is produced from a crossing of Sylvaner/Riesling and Muller Thurgau. Never call an English wine “British”. No this is not Brexit related, it is because “British Made Wine” is a category for wines made in the UK, but not necessary from grapes grown here. So the proper terminology is English wine. And for wine-making techniques most Bacchus is made un-oaked, potentially with lees stirring to add more texture. There are a few oaked examples I’ve found very interesting, they seem to add more softness and texture to the wine style; as well as contrasting flavours. Bacchus originates from Germany. It doesn’t have naturally high acidity, it is more the coolness of the British climate that gives it that character.
Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Sylvaner, Gros or Petit Manseng
United Kingdom: Kent, Sussex, Cornwall
Shellfish, fish & chips, cod in parsley sauce, spring vegetable risotto, asparagus, goats cheese