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English sparkling wine is world-class, but there's much more to come from bacchus, our unsung signature grape

Bacchus is shaking off
its austere reputation,
and emerging from the
Brit-fizz shadows
Bacchus is shaking off its austere reputation, and emerging from the Brit-fizz shadows Credit:  Gareth Fuller

If you wanted a satirical name for wine made in a waterlogged field by doughty Anglo-Saxons determined to ignore the grey skies and chilly climate, then “bacchus” would probably do it. Bacchus: god of wine and ecstatic celebration, often surrounded by satyrs and nymphs. Transplanted to England, it has a whiff of Brian Potter’s Phoenix Club. But it’s what we have.

The bacchus grape was engineered in Germany in the Thirties. It came here in 1973 and is the closest thing England has to a signature variety, making still wines that smell of grassy meadows and hawthorn; elderflower and citrus. The question now being asked is not how good bacchus can get as English wine improves (thanks to climate change...

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