10 great organic christmas drinks
There's no reason why you shouldn't go local or organic with your festive tipples, as David Taylor discovers
Saturday 01 December 2007
English sparkling wine
Greenfields Cuvee 2004
Christmas wouldn't be the same without a drop or two of fizz, but this year why not give our Gallic cousins' vintages a miss and try some sparkling English wine alongside your organic smoked salmon and scrambled eggs. Denbies Greenfields Cuvee 2004 is produced from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes grown on the North Downs, Surrey, in similar soil to the vineyards found in the Champagne region. It makes for a fantastically fruity, biscuity glass of fizz and the previous year's vintage (sadly now in very short supply) won gold at this year's International Wine Challenge.
21.99; 01306 876616; www.denbiesvineyard.co.uk
Border Gold organic ale
Broughton Ales, an independent brewery based on the Scottish borders, about 25 miles south of Edinburgh, started brewing back in 1980 and today produces a range of 18 cask ales and 11 bottled beers. One of two organic bottled beers Broughton produces, the 6 per cent abv Border Gold won a bronze medal at the last Brewing Industry Awards in 2005. A fusion between UK-produced organically grown malt and First Gold hops, imported New Zealand organic hops, and water from the Border Hills, the light golden beer is clean tasting with a hoppy aroma and aftertaste. Perfect with your Boxing Day buffet.
Organic Scotch whisky
Benromach Speyside Single Malt
Gordon & MacPhail's Benromach Organic Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the first single malt to be certified by the Soil Association. A silver medallist at this year's International Wine And Spirit competition, Benromach is made by two men at Speyside's smallest working distillery, using pure spring water from the local Romach Hills, Scottish organic barley and yeast. The spirit is then added to virgin American oak casks from environmentally managed forests. Tasting notes pick out "sweet, vanilla and toffee flavours, hints of apples and orange peel". Try it after Christmas pudding.
29.99; 0800 328 2323; www.oddbins.com
Duchy Originals dry reserve cider
Duchy Originals has been producing quality organic food and drink while promoting sustainable farming since 1990. The latest beverage from the stable is an organic, dry cider that's as far removed from the gassy, mass-produced flavour-less pub cider as you can get. Over 1kg of British bittersweet apple varieties including Foxwhelp, Port Wine, Yarlington Mill and Sweet Copping are pressed for each 750ml wine style bottle. All apples used are grown within a 10-mile radius of Knights Cider mill, Crumpton Oaks, Malvern, that has produced cider on the site for three generations.
2.99; 020-8831 6800; www.duchyoriginals.com
Belvoir organic elderflower cordial
This refreshing elderfower cordial is the perfect grown-up alternative to mass produced, over-sweetened, artificially-coloured cordials. It tastes great on its own or can be sipped in place of white wine with a meal, and works well as an alcohol-free sparkling wine alternative when mixed with carbonated spring water. Organic elderflowers are grown in orchards around the Duke of Rutland's Belvoir Castle estate and infused on the day that they are picked in waters drawn from the local Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir Spring. All Belvoir Fruit Farms' drinks are 100 per cent natural and free from preservatives.
3.95; 01476 870286; www.belvoirfruitfarms.co.uk
Apples have been pressed at Pass Vale Farm for over 150 years and today all of the fruit used in Burrow Hill's cider is from Somerset, most from the farm's own orchards. Julian Temperley, the current owner, was granted a licence to distil cider brandy in 1989 and now produces a three, five and 10-year-old vintage from the juice of classic cider varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Harry Masters. In 2006 Temperley first released Somerset Alchemy, a 15-year-old, smooth, mellow and warming 42 per cent brandy with a delicious hint of apple. The farm's delicious flagship spirit deserves to be savoured.
37; 01460 240782; www.ciderbrandy.co.uk
Black Cat's organic mulled wine spice
There's nothing quite as festive as taking a break from the hectic Christmas shopping and enjoying a glass or two of warming, spicy mulled wine with friends. But you've got to make sure you use the right mix of ingredients or you can end up with an over-spiced cough syrupy concoction that ruins your bottle of red. Austrian-born Catherine Kubillus grew up making gingerbread and mulled wine with her mother and got so many requests for her recipe that she decided to launch her own business a year and a half ago. Black Cat's is based in West Sussex and uses only organic herbs and spices.
2.50; 0771 7616574; www.blackcatsorganicscents.co.uk
Organic English wine
Limney Horsmonden Dry White
Davenport Vineyards' first vines were planted in Kent in 1990 and today the company has four acres at Rotherfield and eight acres at Horsmonden, certified by the Soil Association since 2000. All vines are managed without the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. Limney Dry White is made from Ortega, Faber, Siegerrebe, Bachhus and Huxelrebe grapes and the 2005 vintage won the Soil Association's Organic Wine of the Year 2006. Winemaker Will Davenport considers the 2006 vintage to be even better. It's a dry white with a floral nose that holds its own against more established European wines.
7.99; 0800 107 3086; www.vinceremos.co.uk
Black Isle organic porter
Based in the Scottish Highlands, Black Isle brewery has produced a range of organic bottled beers packaged in recycled materials since it was founded in 1998. The independent brewery's 4.5 abv organic porter is produced with dark roasted malts and hops grown on certified organic farms without the use of artificial fertilisers or herbicides. The rich, medium dry ruby black porter is bottle conditioned and naturally fermented for a second time in the bottle, and does not contain finings ensuring that the brew is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans. Delicious with strong cheeses.
31.95 for a case of 12; 01463 811871; www.blackislebrewery.com
Freedom lager and pilsener
Vegan-certified, 100 per cent organic Freedom lager was the UK's first micro-brewed lager back in 1995. Since then the beer has won numerous awards, been given Soil Association accreditation and is now brewed in Germany according to the German brewery laws. The company has recently launched Freedom Pilsener a British lager brewed in Abbots Bromley near Burton on Trent, using the famous Burton water and their own Optic barley cultivated on land adjacent to the brewery. Master Brewer Ian Ward, the man behind the original freedom lager, has helped perfect the new recipe.
16.20 six bottles of each; www.freedombeer.com
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