Ben Franks: Beyond Bath’s wine bars
If you love wine there’s few places quite as fantastic as Bath. Its rich, varied foodie scene and twilight watering holes make it one of the highlights of the south west. However, while there are plenty of delightful restaurants and wine bars to enjoy a glass of wine or two, the city has even more to offer wine lovers.
Shop around a food market
Wine is just incomplete without food. We’re lucky enough to have a whole host of food markets in Bath, guaranteed to make you smile. There’s nothing quite like a food market to inspire a choice for a better bottle of wine. Fresh, quality produce and treats deserve great wine. At some of these markets you’ll even find a few small, quality wine producers and retailers. We recently covered the awesome Wolf Wine in a column, which has a permanent fixture in Green Park Station if you fancy a bottle of something different.
Get out and about
I know the weather has been on and off when it comes to sunny and dry spells but where would we be without the Great British picnic? Let’s not forget that wine is better enjoyed with friends and in Bath you have a selection of charming picnic spots from the expanse of Victoria Park to the beauty of Prior Park and its landscape gardens. You might even prefer to venture along Bath’s skyline walk and enjoy lunch with a view. A punnet of strawberries and a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc while overlooking the hustle of the city below just sounds ideal.
Visit a vineyard
Alternatively you could travel to one of the local vineyards and meet some of the winemakers behind your favourite tipple. There are now over 440 vineyards in England and Wales, all getting better and better with every vintage. In the east down by Kent and Sussex, chalky Champagne soils, climate change and improving winemaking methods mean Great British bubbly is now competing on the same stage as the best houses of Champagne. In the rolling valleys of Cornwall, Camel Valley is one of England’s leaders for exceptional sparkling wine.
Here in Somerset, we excel with white wines. Whether it’s the red clay soils of Oatley Vineyard near Bridgend in south Somerset or the steep aspect hills of Wraxall, all have their own unique signature but enjoy one thing in common: excellent white wine. Oatley produces the fresh, juicy elderflower Jane’s Madeleine Angevine (£13.50, Novel Wines) and the crisp, elegant Leonora’s Kernling (£13.90, Novel Wines). Wraxall work wonders with England’s adopted white grape Bacchus to make a perfumed and fruity white (£11.99, Waitrose), amongst its popular Somerset Dry blend and a duo of fine sparkling wines. We even have a flash of pink brilliance with dunleavy’s vineyard just outside Bristol, where the latest vintage of Pinot Noir rosé is youthful, energetic and bright while tasting every bit as refreshing as a stellar pink from Provence.
So if the pleasures of Bath’s wine scene aren’t enough to excite you, do book a tour with one of the county’s numerous and brilliant vineyards. You’ll be able to see the fruit on the vines, chat to the winemaker and taste their wines. Cheers!
Ben is launching his new wine business, Novel Wines, on 24 September 2016. If you fancy tasting a range of over 90 wines, you can book tickets now from just £12pp. Visit www.novelwines.co.uk to find out more.
Text © Copyright Ben Franks Wine 2016
I’m always on the look-out for new wine lists to try and I’m here to help any restaurant or pub who think their wine list needs a seasonal update. For more information or to get in touch about some more of my favourite wine & dine destinations, call Ben Franks Wine on +44(0)7545353147.