Ask a wine aficionado to name a country that produces the best still wine, and England might not be the first place that comes to mind. However, our new Bacchus wine is testament to England’s ability to produce exceptional wine of its own.
Originally grown in Germany, the Bacchus grape does not ripen so well in warmer weather, making it a great match for England's unpredictable climate. Currently bringing a buzz to the wine world, the Bacchus grape thrives in our cooler temperatures, and has been touted as our country’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc. The Fortnum’s Bacchus is a fine example, and Laneberg Winery source the best possible Bacchus fruit from a single vineyard in Leicestershire.
After our experts blind tasted 40 different wines in search of our next bottle, it was the distinctly English character of the Bacchus grape that really stood out. The grapes are basket-pressed to fully capture the aromas and flavours of an English country garden, with notes of crisp apple, garden herbs and elderflower.To celebrate the launch of what promises to be a new signature English wine, and a marvellous addition to Fortnum’s large and varied wine department, we spoke to Elise Lane, Laneberg’s CEO and Head Winemaker. While winemaking has traditionally been a male environment, Elise is one of a new generation of pioneering women running their own wineries and crafting exceptional wines – their award-winning Bacchus being one such superb bottle. We sat down with Elise to hear more about her journey into winemaking and what makes our Bacchus so special. SHOP BACCHUS WINE
How did you know you wanted to be a winemaker?
'I did a Master’s in Chemistry at Oxford and graduated in 2003. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with that degree. I ended up in finance and moved to London. I did a few wine tasting courses and got WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Level 2 and Level 3, and there was a part at the end of Level 3 about winemaking. I realised how much winemaking related to chemistry and became very interested in it.
When we visited an urban winery in West Brompton, in London, I realised that you could make wine without growing the grapes yourself, which later led to us starting our own urban winery here, in the North East of England.'
What interested you about winemaking?
'While I am interested in the growing side of wine, It’s definitely the winemaking side of it that’s my passion. If you took blueberries and made wine out of them, all of the wine would taste more or less the same – no matter what blueberries you took or where you grew them. Whereas we have so many different varieties of grape that lead to different tasting wine. While all white grapes may generally look the same, they can create such different flavours. There’s also so much you can do with your winemaking to enhance those flavours.'
Why did you want to make Bacchus wine?
'I trained in viticulture at Plumpton College and I worked in their winery. It was a great place to work as you have a number of students working with you, so you’re teaching others as you’re learning yourself. I remember making Bacchus wine there and thinking that if we could get this wine right it could really play into the Sauvignon Blanc market - which is big in the UK.Most English wineries focus on traditionally made sparkling wines, but for us that wouldn’t have been financially viable as they are more expensive to make due to their popularity, and take longer due to the ageing methods and the double fermentation. So our initial plan was to make some lovely still wines, of which Bacchus was one. We chose Bacchus because we wanted to make premium quality white wine in England. In 2018, when we were just starting, I bought 3 tonnes of Bacchus, as well as some Pinot Grigio and Rosé, and our first 2018 Bacchus won us medals at the International Wine & Spirits Competition and the Wine GB awards.'